South Asia Seminar - Oliver Freiberger

"I Belong to the Sakyas' Son:" Revisiting Religious Boundary-Making in Ancient India"

This talk discusses the question of how historians of religion can distinguish religions in pre-modern South Asia. It suggests seven aspects of an analysis of religious boundary-making and then presents two examples from ancient India, the concept of the Buddha as an avatāra of Viṣṇu in the Purāṇas and the segregating concept of the Middle Way in the so-called Pāli canon. The analysis of these cases will focus on the plurality and instability of religious boundaries. The talk also discusses the application of the terms “religion” and “religions” and argues that terms widely used to identify the latter are problematic, hybrid terms that are fully contingent upon the demarcation activities of religious actors.

Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 4:30pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)