The Politics of Pure Land Buddhism in India

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Abstract

Pure Land Buddhism achieved its primary influence in East Asia because it supplied a nonmonastic, autonomous source of religious authority and practice to middle elites in those cultural regions. In contrast Pure Land failed to achieve any success in India. The explanation for the marginalization of Indian Pure Land is probably sociopolitical: Pure Land teachings tended to bypass not only the authority of the Hindu brahmins, but even the authority of Buddhist renunciate orders. Indian social history did not produce any significant middle elites concerned with such non-gurucentric religious authority. As a result, Buddhist India did not produce any innovations in the upâya of religious institutionalization in Buddhism.

Numen

International Review for the History of Religions

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