Organized Panel Session
Our panel is an analysis of, not an apologia for, indigenous Buddhist texts from the perspectives of sociology, archeology, intellectual history, and philology. The concept of indigenous Buddhist texts is used to describe a class of locally composed literature whose authenticity is in question. While the issue of authenticity has garnered much scholarly attention, reasons for the composition and circulation of these controversial texts remain to be explored. Shifting the focus from authenticity to contextuality, our panel perceives these texts as lived objects that actively express the cultural life, sociopolitical discourse, rituals and religious space of Chinese communities across time and space.
Our discussions begin with Ying-Ruo Show’s investigation of the circulation and historical continuities of scriptures associated with the Azure Lotus Teaching in the Buddhist Vegetarian Halls of Southeast Asia, since the mid-19thcentury. Through examining newly unearthed steles from Shandong, which are carved with Buddhist scriptures on parents’ kindness, Ying Chen analyzes the interaction between Buddhism and local rituals, such as ancestor worship, from the mid-Tang to early Song. Jingjing Li unpacks how a contentious document, called the Chronicle of Nadi, discloses the interplay between factional politics and doctrinal competitions in the early Tang. Ruifeng Chen studies 28 clusters of manuscripts with their colophons from medieval Dunhuang and explores whether Buddhist apocrypha met local Buddhists’ needs better than the translated scriptures did. Overall, the panel promotes interdisciplinary dialogues on how a wide range of indigenous Buddhist texts can advance our understanding of cultures inside and outside the Sinosphere.