Robert Kritzer will present his paper, "Life in the Womb: Conception and Gestation in the Garbhāvakrāntisūtra and the Classical Indian Medical Literature"
The first Noble Truth of Buddhism is that all is suffering. In this context, the word “all” means all conditioned things, that is to say, all worldly things. Hence anything that perpetuates the cycle of rebirth in this world is considered antithetical to liberation and is subject to condemnation.
A number of Buddhist meditation and doctrinal texts from the first few centuries of the Common Era describe in various degrees of completeness the stages of the rebirth process, which begins at the moment of death in one life, continues through the stage of the intermediate existence or antarābhava, the moment of conception, the period of gestation, up until the moment of birth in the next life. Among these, the Garbhāvākrāntisūtra contains the most detailed description of conception and gestation.
In this paper, I examine this text, on which little has been written in any western language, and compare its account of the crucial moment of conception and period of gestation with accounts in the Indian medical literature, particularly the Carakasaṃhitā. While there are many similarities, which may be the result of mutual influence between the two texts as well as borrowing from a hypothetical common source, there are also considerable differences, which can be explained by the difference in purpose between the sūtra and the medical texts.
on Monday, June 12, 2007 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
At Kyodai Kaikan, Room 217
Sponsored by the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies
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