Sunday, 25 November 2012

Huayan Texts in Dunhuang

Huayan Texts in Dunhuang
Imre Hamar (Eötvös Lorán University, Budapest)

Time: 4 December 2012, 6 p.m.
Location: Asien-Afrika-Institut, Universität Hamburg, Edmund-Siemers-Allee, East Wing, Room 221

The Huayanzong 華嚴宗 is one of the schools of Chinese Buddhism that is regarded as a product of a long process usually called Sinification, which refers to the way in which this originally foreign religion was adopted in China. Huayan is an example of fully fledged Chinese Buddhism, which was preceded by the transmission of the basic text, the Huayan jing, and the meticulous interpretation of this scripture by Chinese monks. During this exegetical analysis, the Chinese interpreters formulated the ideas of Huayan philosophy, such as the dependent arising of dharma-dhātu, the ten mystical gates, the six characters, the four dharma-dhātus, the classification of teachings, etc. Kojima Taizan, the Japanese scholar of Huayan Buddhism, proposed that Huayan Buddhism has two centres or branches in China: the Wutaishan 五臺山and the Zhongnanshan 終南. However, on the eastern end of the Silk road, in Dunhuang we find traces of Huayan Buddhism. Some of the paintings in the caves depict Huayan topics with Vairocana and the cave library preserved translations of the Avataṃsaka-sūtra, commentaries on the Avataṃsaka-sūtra and treatises on Huayan philosophy written by Huayan patriarchs. We find some evidences that the manuscripts of the Huayan jing were made in order to gain merit, and even the names of the donors were preserved in colophons to some of the manuscripts. The investigations of various Huayan mansucripts can shed some light on the textual history of the Huayan jing. The Dunhuang cave library preserved Chinese commentaries on the Huayan jing that were not transmitted in the Chinese Buddhist tradition. This lecture will show that, in addition toWutaishan and Zhongnanshan, Dunhuang could also be a centre of Huayan Buddhism.

About the speaker
Imre Hamar is a professor of Chinese studies at Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest). He is the head of the Department of Chinese Studies, the director of Insititue of East Asian Studies, and the director of Confucius Institute. His research field is Chinese Buddhism, especially the Huayan school. He has recently studied the tradition of commentary-writing in Chinese Buddhism. He is the author of A Religious Leader in the Tang: Chengguan’s Biography (The International College for Advanced Buddhist Studies, Tokyo, 2002), the editor of Reflecting Mirrors: Perspectives on Huayan Buddhism (Harrassowitz, 2007) and the coeditor of Avatamsaka Buddhism in East Asia: Origins and Adaptation of a Visual Culture (Harrassowitz, 2012). 

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