August 12, 2017 | Autor: Reiko Ohnuma | Categoría: N/A
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V I P A ´S Y I N

in Burma (Myanmar). After encountering initial resistance, the practice of vipassana was endorsed by the Burmese SAN˙ GHA and embraced by the royal court. By the late nineteenth century, a distinct praxis and organizational pattern had emerged that set the stage for the modern vipassana movement of the twentieth century. Led chiefly by reform minded scholar-monks, a variety of simplified meditation techniques were devised based on readings of the Satipattha na-sutta, the Visuddhimagga (Path to Purification), and related texts. These techniques typically follow the method of bare insight. The teaching of vipassana also prompted the development of new Buddhist institutions called wipathana yeiktha or insight hermitages. Initially attached to monasteries, these evolved into independent lay oriented meditation centers. A related development was the rise of personality cults devoted to the veneration of prominent meditation teachers as living arhats. In terms of impact, the popularization of vipassana represents the most significant development in Burmese Buddhism in the twentieth century. Thailand has also witnessed a revival of vipassana practice in the modern period, and both Burmese and Thai meditation teachers have been instrumental in propagating vipassana in Sri Lanka, India, and the West. See also: Abhijña (Higher Knowledges); Ana tman/ A tman (No-Self/Self); Anitya (Impermanence); Dhya na (Trance State); Duh kha (Suffering); Prajña (Wisdom) Bibliography Kornfield, Jack. Living Buddhist Masters. Santa Cruz, CA: Unity, 1977. Mahasi Sayadaw. The Progress of Insight through the Stages of Purification: A Modern Pa li Treatise on Buddhist Satipattha na Meditation, tr. Nyanaponika Thera. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Forest Hermitage, 1965. Mendelson, E. Michael. Sangha and State in Burma: A Study of Monastic Sectarianism and Leadership, ed. John P. Ferguson. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1975.

eons (kalpas) ago. His career is discussed at length in the Maha pada na-suttanta (Dl ghanika ya, no. 14) and more briefly in the Buddhavam  sa. Despite his prominence in the list of seven, Vipas´yin does not appear to have become a major cultic figure. See also: Buddha(s) Bibliography Horner, I. B., trans. The Minor Anthologies of the Pa li Canon,  sa and Cariyapitaka. London: Pa li Text Part 3: Buddhavam Society, 1975. Walshe, Maurice, trans. Thus Have I Heard: The Long Discourses of the Buddha. London: Wisdom Press, 1987.


VISN U Visnu is the Brahmanical god who preserves the universe, frequently as an avata ra, or descent. The Buddha is incorporated into Visnu’s mythology, most clearly in the Gaya -maha tmya (Praises of the Greatness of Gaya ) section of the Va yu-pura n a (Ancient Book of Va yu), in which Visnu assumes the form of the Buddha and preaches false teachings to a group of asuras. Visnu himself is not a particularly important textual presence, but in Sri Lanka he is frequently worshiped by Buddhists, often as one of the protectors of the religion and as a powerful, active force. See also: Divinities; Folk Religion, Southeast Asia; Hinduism and Buddhism Bibliography Gonda, Jan. Aspects of Early Visn uism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1965. The Va yu Pura n a, tr. G. V. Tagare. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1987.

Swearer, Donald K. “The Way to Meditation.” In Buddhism in Practice, ed. Donald S. Lopez, Jr. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995.



VIS´VANTARA VIPAS´YIN The first of the so-called seven buddhas of the past, Vipas´yin is said to have lived in this world ninety-one


The story of Prince Vis´vantara (Pa li, Vessantara) is perhaps the most popular and well-known JA TAKA (past-life story of the Buddha). It exists in many different versions and languages, and is a frequent sub-





ject of Buddhist art, ritual, and performance, particularly in THERAVA DA countries of Southeast Asia. In brief, the story involves a prince named Vis´vantara who demonstrates the virtue of selfless generosity through a series of extraordinary gifts. First, he gives away his kingdom’s most valuable elephant, an act that angers the citizenry and causes his father, King Sam  jaya, to reluctantly banish Vis´vantara from the kingdom. After giving away all of his material possessions, Vis´vantara embarks on a life of exile in the forest, accompanied by his wife and two children. When a cruel brahmin asks for the children as servants, Vis´vantara willingly gives them away while his wife is off gathering food. Shortly thereafter, another brahmin supplicant asks for his wife, and Vis´vantara again complies. This last supplicant reveals himself to be the god S´akra in disguise and immediately returns Vis´vantara’s wife to him. Meanwhile, full of remorse, King Sam  jaya ransoms Vis´vantara’s children from the cruel brahmin and then invites Vis´vantara back from exile. In celebration, S´akra rains a shower of jewels from the sky. Vis´ vantara never wavers from the harsh demands of universal generosity—giving children, wife, and material gifts to any and all who ask—yet everything is restored to him in the end. The story thus highlights the bodhisattva’s “perfection of generosity,” while also offering its listeners the promise of karmic rewards. Since Vis´ vantara loses his wife and children and becomes an ascetic in the forest (if only temporarily), the story also calls to mind the monk’s renunciation of the world, as well as the life-story of the Buddha. Indeed, it has an especially close connection with the




latter, for the birth as Vis´ vantara is understood to be the culmination of the Buddha’s BODHISATTVA career and his last human rebirth before the final life as Siddha rtha Gautama. Moreover, when Siddha rtha battles against MA RA underneath the Tree of Enlightenment, it is the merit acquired during his life as Prince Vis´ vantara that he invokes in order to secure Ma ra’s defeat and thus attain buddhahood. In line with its importance, the story of Vis´vantara has been a popular subject of sermons, rituals, folk operas, dramas, and other forms of performance in many Buddhist cultures. In Thailand, for example, the Pa li Vessantara-ja taka is recited annually by monks during the Thet Mahachat festival, an act understood to produce abundant spiritual merit. See also: Buddha, Life of the; Entertainment and Performance; Folk Religion: An Overview; Folk Religion, Southeast Asia; Pa ramita (Perfection) Bibliography Collins, Steven. “The Vessantara Ja taka.” In Nirva n a and Other Buddhist Felicities: Utopias of the Pa li Imaginaire. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Cone, Margaret, and Gombrich, Richard, trans. The Perfect Generosity of Prince Vessantara: A Buddhist Epic. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977.


VOWS. See Ordination; Precepts


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