Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

1 - The Monks on the Move: Narration of Journeys in the Early Pāli Texts

Friday, July 6
12:10 PM - 1:40 PM
Location: Willow, First Floor

The early Pāli Buddhist texts record the journeys undertaken by the first generation of monks, who traveled in groups across a large land-mass, the majjhimadesa of the texts, disseminating faith and seeking shelter among communities of lay followers. Sometimes these journeys would cut across political and geo-spatial borders tracking well-trodden trade routes. At other times, mostly during the rainy seasons, a shorter seasonal route would be followed. These movements, repetitive in nature, occurred in a circumscribed area and the texts indicate a familiarity with the natural as well as social landscapes. Apart from the fine cities, villages, communities of people, the texts repeatedly mention hillocks, lakes, freshwater tanks, rivers and local shrines by name. While recording a journey, the texts also recognized and memorialized familiar and new landmarks, imbuing them with new meanings. The knowledge of the wider landscape, acquired through direct experience early on, was gradually handed down by tradition. In course of time, the routes became an integral part of the religious tradition and got invested with a deep cultural significance, which defined connectivity across known social units and beyond demarcated political boundaries of territorial states.

Preeta Bhattacharya

University of Calcutta, India

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1 - The Monks on the Move: Narration of Journeys in the Early Pāli Texts



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