File Download
  Links for fulltext
     (May Require Subscription)
Supplementary

postgraduate thesis: Chiasmus in the early Prajñāpāramitā: literary parallelism connecting criticism & hermeneutics in an earlyMahāyāna sūtra

TitleChiasmus in the early Prajñāpāramitā: literary parallelism connecting criticism & hermeneutics in an earlyMahāyāna sūtra
Authors
Issue Date2012
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Orsborn, M. B.. (2012). Chiasmus in the early Prajñāpāramitā : literary parallelism connecting criticism & hermeneutics in an early Mahāyāna sūtra. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4775259
Abstract This study examines the early Praj??p?ramit? s?tras through the theory of “chiasmus”. Chiasmic methodology analyses a text into two parallel halves, identifying complementary “prologue” (A) and “conclusion” (A’), and highlighting the critical “central point” (X), with sub-themes paralleled in the two halves (A-B-C-D…X…D’-C’-B’-A’). Through chiasmus theory, many ancient texts formerly considered fragmentary and incoherent have been shown to be structurally sophisticated wholes. The modern text-critical approach has re-written the traditional account of the Praj??p?ramit? s?tras. Several scholars have proposed theories regarding a pre-textual “ur-s?tra”, though with little consensus on this. In general, most agree that after the formation of an “ur-s?tra” the main body of the text was then chaotically compiled from various fragmentary sub-texts, with the Sad?prarudita Avad?na finally appended at the end. The result is the presently extant smaller s?tra. This modern scholarship then claims gradual growth through expansion into the medium and larger s?tras. The modern academic “discourse on emptiness” portrays the Praj??p?ramit? as focusing on the doctrine of “emptiness” (??nyat?). This study challenges many of these claims. On analysis, primary and secondary chiasmi were identified in the first two chapters of the s?tra. Their scope is the authority of teaching and training in the Praj??p?ramit?, and maintenance of the lineage of the Buddhas. Their central climax is definitions of “bodhisattva”, “mah?sattva” and “mah?y?na”, in the rhetorical formula “XY is ~Y”. Clearly paralleled sub-themes include “sam?dhi”, “the illusory”, “M?ra” and “entrance into certitude”. A second chiasmus comprising the entire Avad?na at the end of the s?tra was also identified. The scope is Sad?prarudita’s quest for Praj??p?ramit?, “to see and hear the Tath?gatas”. The central climax is his seeing and hearing the “Tath?gata” as one who has realized “suchness” (tathat?) or “dependent origination” (prat?tyasa?utp?da), again expressed in the form “XY is ~Y”. Paralleled sub-themes include “sam?dhi”, “M?ra” and “giving”. These two chiasmi are similar in scope, centers which define key terms through the rhetorical formula “XY is ~Y”, and sub-themes. This suggests a larger chiasmus which spans the entire text, with these chiasmi as prologue and conclusion respectively. While not conclusive, there is evidence for a central climax centered at “suchness” (tathat?), attainment of which results in the bodhisattva’s status of irreversibility. This connects the prologue and concluding chiasmi, “bodhisattvas” to “Tath?gatas”, respectively. Numerous paralleled sub-themes are more or less salient. There are major implications from the discovery of chiasmus in the Praj??p?ramit?. Critically, it suggests that the s?tra was initially composed as a complete chiasmic whole, rather than from accumulated fragmentary parts. Hermeneutically, the core message may be understood more systematically than earlier methods. It proposes “suchness” (tathat?) as the central theme, rather than “emptiness” (??nyat?). It also rejects the genre designation of the Praj??p?ramit? as a “philosophical” rather than “religious” text. This study also offers direction for uncovering other cases of chiasmus in early Mah?y?na and Buddhist literature in general, with examples. If a range of chiasmi can be analyzed, a general theory of Buddhist chiasmus can be established for use as a standard Buddhological tool.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectChiasmus.
Mahayana Buddhism - Sacred books - Hermeneutics.
Dept/ProgramBuddhist Studies

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorOrsborn, Matthew Bryan.-
dc.date.issued2012-
dc.identifier.citationOrsborn, M. B.. (2012). Chiasmus in the early Prajñāpāramitā : literary parallelism connecting criticism & hermeneutics in an early Mahāyāna sūtra. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4775259-
dc.description.abstract This study examines the early Praj??p?ramit? s?tras through the theory of “chiasmus”. Chiasmic methodology analyses a text into two parallel halves, identifying complementary “prologue” (A) and “conclusion” (A’), and highlighting the critical “central point” (X), with sub-themes paralleled in the two halves (A-B-C-D…X…D’-C’-B’-A’). Through chiasmus theory, many ancient texts formerly considered fragmentary and incoherent have been shown to be structurally sophisticated wholes. The modern text-critical approach has re-written the traditional account of the Praj??p?ramit? s?tras. Several scholars have proposed theories regarding a pre-textual “ur-s?tra”, though with little consensus on this. In general, most agree that after the formation of an “ur-s?tra” the main body of the text was then chaotically compiled from various fragmentary sub-texts, with the Sad?prarudita Avad?na finally appended at the end. The result is the presently extant smaller s?tra. This modern scholarship then claims gradual growth through expansion into the medium and larger s?tras. The modern academic “discourse on emptiness” portrays the Praj??p?ramit? as focusing on the doctrine of “emptiness” (??nyat?). This study challenges many of these claims. On analysis, primary and secondary chiasmi were identified in the first two chapters of the s?tra. Their scope is the authority of teaching and training in the Praj??p?ramit?, and maintenance of the lineage of the Buddhas. Their central climax is definitions of “bodhisattva”, “mah?sattva” and “mah?y?na”, in the rhetorical formula “XY is ~Y”. Clearly paralleled sub-themes include “sam?dhi”, “the illusory”, “M?ra” and “entrance into certitude”. A second chiasmus comprising the entire Avad?na at the end of the s?tra was also identified. The scope is Sad?prarudita’s quest for Praj??p?ramit?, “to see and hear the Tath?gatas”. The central climax is his seeing and hearing the “Tath?gata” as one who has realized “suchness” (tathat?) or “dependent origination” (prat?tyasa?utp?da), again expressed in the form “XY is ~Y”. Paralleled sub-themes include “sam?dhi”, “M?ra” and “giving”. These two chiasmi are similar in scope, centers which define key terms through the rhetorical formula “XY is ~Y”, and sub-themes. This suggests a larger chiasmus which spans the entire text, with these chiasmi as prologue and conclusion respectively. While not conclusive, there is evidence for a central climax centered at “suchness” (tathat?), attainment of which results in the bodhisattva’s status of irreversibility. This connects the prologue and concluding chiasmi, “bodhisattvas” to “Tath?gatas”, respectively. Numerous paralleled sub-themes are more or less salient. There are major implications from the discovery of chiasmus in the Praj??p?ramit?. Critically, it suggests that the s?tra was initially composed as a complete chiasmic whole, rather than from accumulated fragmentary parts. Hermeneutically, the core message may be understood more systematically than earlier methods. It proposes “suchness” (tathat?) as the central theme, rather than “emptiness” (??nyat?). It also rejects the genre designation of the Praj??p?ramit? as a “philosophical” rather than “religious” text. This study also offers direction for uncovering other cases of chiasmus in early Mah?y?na and Buddhist literature in general, with examples. If a range of chiasmi can be analyzed, a general theory of Buddhist chiasmus can be established for use as a standard Buddhological tool.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.source.urihttp://hub.hku.hk/bib/B47752592-
dc.subject.lcshChiasmus.-
dc.subject.lcshMahayana Buddhism - Sacred books - Hermeneutics.-
dc.titleChiasmus in the early Prajñāpāramitā: literary parallelism connecting criticism & hermeneutics in an earlyMahāyāna sūtra-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb4775259-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineBuddhist Studies-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b4775259-
dc.date.hkucongregation2012-

Export via OAI-PMH Interface in XML Formats


OR


Export to Other Non-XML Formats