Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

2 - Tracing Cross-Cultural Literary Exchanges through a Comparative Thematic Study of the Theme of Naga or Dragon Maiden in the Selected Narratives of Pre-Modern China and India

Saturday, July 7
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Jacaranda II, First Floor

The complex cross-cultural transaction between India and China is the result of a spontaneous contactual interaction that primarily was the result of an intellectual quest by the Buddhist monks and trading relations. My attempt in this paper would be to discuss the motif/theme related to the ‘naga’ or ‘dragon (纳加/龍) in the classical Chinese and Sanskrit story traditions and then to trace the most significant stages of transmission where the manifestation of such thematic similarity created a major narrative evolution. This theme helps us look into the journey and the transmission of this specific Buddhist theme of ‘naga’.


I will examine the Buddhist and Hindu philosophical ideas that are interspersed within the stories which ultimately contribute to the tradition of dragon-maiden stories with thematically as well as ideologically similar structure. This motif also marks a major paradigm shift in the Chinese literary tradition by introducing different ‘foreign’ traits and characters in the stories. The stories that will be discussed are primarily taken from the Jatakas and the Chinese Buddhist classics like Samyukta–Avadana Sutra 《舊雜譬喻經》, Samadhi Sagara Sutra 《佛說觀佛三昧海經》 and also sutras translated by Gunabhadra (求那跋陀羅) and Faxian (法顯). I will discuss these stories along with the stories taken from the Sanskrit Kathasaritsagara by Somedevabhatta (11th century AD) and several other stories from the Chinese text Taiping Guangji (978 AD).

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2 - Tracing Cross-Cultural Literary Exchanges through a Comparative Thematic Study of the Theme of Naga or Dragon Maiden in the Selected Narratives of Pre-Modern China and India



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