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Bones, Stones, And Buddhist Monks: Collected Papers On The Archaeology, Epigraphy, And Texts Of Monastic Buddhism In India
From the Preface "The present volume provides an essential foundation for a social history of Indian Buddhist monasticism. Challenging the popular stereotype that represented the accumulation of merit as the domain of the layperson while monks concerned themselves with more sophisticated realms of doctrine and meditation, Professor Schopen problematizes many assumptions ab ...more
(first published October 1st 1996)
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It's difficult to think of a better book on Indian Buddhist history. The thesis throughout all the essays: previous scholarship on Indian Buddhism has focused on the doctrines found in textual sources, whereas the archaeological record shows the the practices of the Indian Buddhists shows that they were (willfully or otherwise) of the doctrines found in the text, and that the text's contents (doctrine, philosophy, etc) were maybe known by only a tiny elite few, and that the religion practiced wa ...more
I was lucky enough to take a class with Professor Schopen. He's totally brilliant and turned the field of Buddhist Studies upside down by looking at original inscriptions and translating them himself, as opposed to trusting others previous translations (and mistakes). I love that he wants to know Buddhism for what it is, and not for some romantic western view we have of it. Monks needed to make money too!
Collection of Schopen's articles from the eighties and early nineties. Read the scriptures as evidence in light of the archaeology and epigraphy, not the reverse! Here we can see monks building and dedicating stupas, transferring merits, worrying about their parents, placing their remains close to the Buddha's in mini-stupas, and treating the big B as a legal person and resident.