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Travels in the netherworld: Buddhist popular narratives of death and the afterlife in Tibet

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Oxford University Press,
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In Travels in the Netherworld, Bryan J. Cuevas examines a fascinating but little-known genre of Tibetan narrative literature about thedélok, ordinary men and women who claim to have died, traveled through hell, and then returned from the afterlife. These narratives enjoy audiences ranging from the most sophisticated monastic scholars to pious townsfolk, villagers, and nomads. Their accounts emphasize the universal Buddhist principles of impermanence and worldly suffering, the fluctuations of karma, and the feasibility of obtaining a favorable rebirth through virtue and merit. Providing a clear, detailed analysis of four vivid return-from-death tales, including the stories of a Tibetan housewife, a lama, a young noble woman, and a Buddhist monk, Cuevas argues that these narratives express ideas about death and the afterlife that held wide currency among all classes of faithful Buddhists in Tibet.Relying on a diversity of traditional Tibetan sources, Buddhist canonical scriptures, scholastic textbooks, ritual and meditation manuals, and medical treatises, in addition to thedélok works themselves, Cuevas surveys a broad range of popular Tibetan Buddhist ideas about death and dying. He explores beliefs about the vulnerability of the soul and its journey beyond death, karmic retribution and the terrors of hell, the nature of demons and demonic possession, ghosts, and reanimated corpses. Cuevas argues that these extraordinary accounts exhibit flexibility between social and religious categories that are conventionally polarized and concludes that, contrary to the accepted wisdom, such rigid divisions as elite and folk, monastic and lay religion are not sufficiently representative of traditional Tibetan Buddhism on the ground. This study offers innovative perspectives on popular religion in Tibet and fills a gap in an important field of Tibetan literature.
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Grouped Work ID e0f96cb8-cef0-c584-6059-eb0d6db46f01
full_title travels in the netherworld buddhist popular narratives of death and the afterlife in tibet
author cuevas bryan j
grouping_category book
lastUpdate 2016-12-14 05:06:51AM

Solr Details

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author Cuevas, Bryan J., 1967-
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physical viii, 199 p. ; 25 cm.
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table_of_contents To hell and back -- Travels of a Tibetan housewife -- A lama in distress -- The return of a noble young lady -- A ghost in monk's robes -- Storytellers.
target_audience Other
target_audience_full Other
title Travels in the netherworld Buddhist popular narratives of death and the afterlife in Tibet
title_display Travels in the netherworld Buddhist popular narratives of death and the afterlife in Tibet
title_full Travels in the netherworld [electronic resource] : Buddhist popular narratives of death and the afterlife in Tibet / Bryan J. Cuevas
title_short Travels in the netherworld
title_sort travels in the netherworld buddhist popular narratives of death and the afterlife in tibet
title_sub Buddhist popular narratives of death and the afterlife in Tibet