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David Quinter

In From Outcasts to Emperors, David Quinter illuminates the Shingon Ritsu movement founded by the charismatic monk Eison (1201–90) at Saidaiji in Nara, Japan. The book’s focus on Eison and his disciples’ involvement in the cult of Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva reveals their innovative synthesis of Shingon esotericism, Buddhist discipline (Ritsu; Sk. vinaya), icon and temple construction, and social welfare activities as the cult embraced a spectrum of supporters, from outcasts to warrior and imperial rulers. In so doing, the book redresses typical portrayals of “Kamakura Buddhism” that cast Eison and other Nara Buddhist leaders merely as conservative reformers, rather than creative innovators, amid the dynamic religious and social changes of medieval Japan.

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Edited by Matthias Bley, Nikolas Jaspert and Stefan Köck

While comparative studies on purity and impurity presented in the last decades have mostly concentrated on the ancient world or on modern developments, this volume focusses the hitherto comparatively neglected period between ca. 300 and 1600 c. E. The collection is innovative because it not only combines papers on both European and Asian cultures but also considers a wide variety of religions and confessions. The articles are written by leading experts in the field and are presented in six systematic sections. This analytical categorization facilitates understanding the functional spectrum that the binomial purity and impurity could cover in past societies. The volume thus presents an in-depth comparative analysis of a category of paramount importance for interfaith relations and processes of transfer.