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Seven Weeks After the Buddha's Enlightenment: Contradictions in Text, Confusions in art

Osmund Bopearachchi (Author)

This groundbreaking volume explores a revelatory Andharan style relief recently discovered in Sri Lanka. It adds to the growing body of archeological evidence of important exchanges between the Buddhists of Sri Lanka and their co-religionists in the Krishna Valley. This relief is the most ancient document attested to date depicting the events that took place during the first seven weeks following the enlightenment of the Buddha. Its unique iconography leads the author to closely examine contradictions between literary evidence and visual representations of what is known as the sambodhi, or ‘perfect awakening’, of the Buddha. According to the classic Buddhist texts, the Mahavastu and the Lalitavistara, the Buddha spent seven weeks after his enlightenment near the Bodhi tree. By contrast, the Buddhist canonical text the Vinaya-Pitaka describes this period as only four weeks long. Sri Lankan and Burmese artists have preferred to depict the seven-week account. Furthermore, the ‘seven-week’ motif depicted in this Andharan relief follows the chronological order given in the important Pali texts, the Nidanakatha and the Mahabodhi-Vamsa. The textual confusions and artistic contradictions uncovered by this volume present a bigger picture of the complex ways in which the story of the Buddha’s life was imagined in the earliest period of recorded Buddhist history. The present study is the first in a series of books by this author on Buddhist art.

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About the author
In the spotlight

Osmund Bopearachchi

Osmund Bopearachchi is a numismatist, historian and archaeologist. He has authored twelve books, edited six books and published 162 research articles in reputed international journals. He has read 91 papers at international colloquia; presented 275 conferences in 80 cities, and has carried out 120 archaeological missions in 24 different countries.  Going beyond the traditional approach of simply cataloguing coins, he has made an attempt to link numismatics with sculptural and pictorial iconography. These attempts made him more and more interested in diverse art forms in ancient India. The exhibition catalogues that he has edited and co-authored, the international colloquia that he has organised and published and the numerous research articles that he has written are the outcome of his deep-seated interest in Central Asian and South Asian archaeology, art and architecture.  Prof. Bopearachchi holds a B.A. from the University of Kelaniya (Sri Lanka), and B.A. honors, (M.A.), M.Phil., Ph.D. all with first class passes from the Paris I-Sorbonne University, and a Higher Doctorate (Habilitation) from the Paris IV-Sorbonne University.  Prof. Bopearachchi currently serves as the director of the Sri Lanka-French Archaeological Mission, and also has launched a joint project with the Department of Near-Eastern Studies of the University of California at Berkeley focusing on Sri Lanka’s role in ancient maritime trade in the Indian Ocean.  He recently published a book on Gandhāran art entitled: “When West Met East: Gandhāran Art Revisted (Manohar, Delhi, 2020) based on a selection of hitherto unknown masterpieces from Gandhāra and Greater Gandhāra dispersed in museums and private collections in Japan, Europe, Canada and United States of America. At present he is working on a new catalogue of Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek Coins.

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Bibliographic information

Title Seven Weeks After the Buddha's Enlightenment: Contradictions in Text, Confusions in art
Format Softcover
Date published: 31.12.2016
Edition 1st. ed.
Language: English
isbn 9789350981375
length 75p., Illustrations Colour; 25cm.