The Weaving of Mantra: Kukai and the Construction of Esoteric Buddhist Discourse

Ryichi Ab




Columbia Univ Pr

Publication Date:




The Buddhist figure Kukai (774-835) is generally credited with the formal establishment of tantric -- or esoteric -- Buddhism in Japan and as the founder of the Shingon school of Buddhism. Yet as Ryuichi Abe contends in his highly original study, the importance of Kukai's establishment of esoteric Buddhism in Japan lay not in the foundation of a new sect but in his creation of a new religious discourse. In "The Weaving of Mantra," Abe presents the most thorough and innovative study to date on Kukai -- one that constitutes a radically different approach to the research on early Japanese religious history. Embedding Kukai within the fabric of political and social life during ninth-century Japan, Abe's book explores the full range of intellectual and political contexts, in the process introducing a number of Japanese and Chinese primary-source texts previously undiscovered by Western-language scholars. As he illustrates in rich detail, Kukai's esoteric Buddhism played a critical role in many societal sea changes -- from the growth of monasteries into major feudal powers to the formation of the native phonetic alphabet, kana.

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Other editions: Softcover - 2000

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