Donors of Longmen: Faith, Politics, and Patronage in Medieval Chinese Buddhist Sculpture – By Amy McNair

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  • NEW FOCUS ON HINDU STUDIES. By Arvind Sharma.New Delhi: D. K. Printworld (P) Ltd., 2005. Pp. 159. $15,ISBN 81-246-0307-3.

    In this book, Sharma observes the challenges involved inthe historical study of Hinduism through an analysis of litera-ture pertaining to four historical periods: Vedic, Classical,Medieval, and Modern, and provides foci that can benetscholars of Hinduism. Sharma asserts, the study of Hindu-ism must not only look at India and Hinduism through Hindueyes and then at the West or other religions and cultures interms of Hindu categories; it must look at itself in the light ofthe other. Beginning with general observations on thestudy of Hinduism, he analyzes the literature that emergedduring various periods and sheds light on Hindu thought,especially onHindu-Muslim andHindu-Christian encountersat political, religious, and mythic levels. Considering theviews of R. Roy, S. Radhakrishnan, and Mahatma Gandhi, heexamines the source material of Hindus themselves for studyof the history of Hinduism in the modern period. As Sharmahighlights the origins of Hindu fundamentalism, he investi-gates the concepts of conversion and secularism in Indiaagainst the backdrop of modern Hinduism in contention withthe ideological forces of Islam, Christianity, and science. Heconcludes with a word of caution for those involved in thestudy of Hinduism that all perspectives must be consideredwhile understandingHinduism. For example, despite the factthat Godse assassinated Gandhi, both Gandhi and Godsestandunited in their commitment to anundivided India. Thisvolume represents well the state of several lines of criticalinquiry developingwithinHindu studies today. In spite of thedivision of his analysis into different time periods, Sharmasattention to ongoing debates among thinkers holds the collec-tion together, enabling those involved in the academic studyof Hinduism to consider many pressing matters confrontingthe study of Hinduism.

    George PatiValparaiso University

    ON THE CUSP OF AN ERA: ART IN THE PRE-KUSANA WORLD. Edited by Doris Meth Srinivasan.Brills Inner Asian Library 18. Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill,2007. Pp. vi + 402; gures. $228, ISBN 978-90-04-15451-3.

    The Kusana period from the second quarter of thesecond-century CE to the mid third-century CE saw a tre-mendous rise and standardization in the artistic and visualculture of the region from contemporary Uzbekistan toBihar. This artistic codication went hand-in-hand with thecreation of a shared set of cultural institutions, includingreligious ones. A new overview of these developments is amajor desideratum of scholarship on South Asia. The argu-ment behind this excellent volume, based on a 2000 confer-ence at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, is thatpreparatory to such an effort it is necessary to engage in asystematic exploration of the precursors of this grand cul-tural synthesis, with a focus primarily on what we canbroadly term northwest India. The fourteen essays by

    leading experts cover the period from Graeco-Bactrian artin the mid third-century BCE until the establishment ofKaniskas era, now argued to be 127 CE. The specializedessays use data on trade and migration routes, coins, sculp-ture, archaeological sites, inscriptions, and Buddhist monas-tic codes. As most of all, Kusana art comprises religiousart, these studies of pre-Kusana art deal extensively withreligious objects, sites and institutions, and so this volumewill be essential reading for all scholars interested in under-standing the development of religion in ancient north India.

    John E. CortDenison University

    ELEMENTS OF JAINA GEOGRAPHY: THEJAMBUDVIPASANGRAHAMI OF HARIBHADRASU RI CRITICALLY EDITED AND TRANSLATEDWITH THE COMMENTARY OF PRABHA NANDASU RI. Edited and translated by Frank Van Den Bossche.Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 2007. Pp. xiv + 327; 12color gures. Rs. 495, ISBN 81-208-2934-4.

    The Jains are famous for their complex geography inwhich intricate and vast calculations are moulded into aquasi-perfect image that satises the almost aestheticdemand for symmetry and relative proportion. The authorwrites, In Jaina cosmography and geography, the endeavourof the human mind to grasp his universe and his world inidealized patterns is illustrated at its best. Jains of all tra-ditions have written copiously on geography, and its studyremains part of the curriculum for mendicants and intellec-tuals today. A key geography textbook for the Svetambaras isHaribhadras Jambudv pasangraham , a text of thirty versesin Maharashtri Prakrit composed in the rst half of thetwelfth century. It deals not with the entirety of the Jaincosmography of the Cosmic Man (lokapurusa), but only thehumanly inhabited middle realm of Jambudvpa, the RoseApple (rather, Black Plum) Island. In its su tra-style brevity,the text is nearly incomprehensible, requiring a commen-tary, in this case one in Sanskrit written by Prabhananda,probably written in the latter half of the twelfth century.Having this text and commentary readily available both inoriginal and English translation is a service to scholarship.The lack of an introductory overview of Jain cosmographyand the difculties of Sanskrit commentarial prose stylemake this book suitable only for advanced students inter-ested in cosmology and history of science.

    John E. CortDenison University

    East AsiaRENNYO AND THE ROOTS OF MODERN JAPANESEBUDDHISM. Edited by Mark L. Blum and Shinya Yasu-tomi. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. Pp. 320; illus-trations. Cloth, $60, ISBN 0-19-513275-0.

    This book comes out of a conference at Otani Universityin 1998 that marked the 500th anniversary of Rennyos

    Religious Studies Review VOLUME 34 NUMBER 3 SEPTEMBER 2008


  • (1415-99) death. As its editors note, Rennyo, generally con-sidered the second founder of Jodo Shinsh after Shinran, isa critical gure in Japanese religious history who remainslittle known in the West. Their premise is that, as a religiousleader with both personal charisma . . . and institutionalgenius, Rennyo had two historical facesone spirituallyappealing, magnetic, and humble . . . the other politicallysavvy, powerfulthat were crucial for transforming theShinsh sect into the important national and now interna-tional religious organization that it is today. What makes thiscollection exciting is the care the editors have given toshaping it into a coherent whole, one that benets bothspecialists and nonspecialists alike. The sixteen essays, withcontributions from noted scholars K. Toshio, A. Bloom, W.LaFleur, and others, are divided into three sections that offerdifferent interpretative lens for understanding Rennyos sig-nicance: historical studies that situate Rennyos life withinthe political instability of the times, Shinsh studies thatlook at particular sectarian issues, and comparative studies.Additionally, the collection covers a lot of ground fromRennyos time to the present, ending with R. Habitos inter-esting essay on the impact of Rennyos leadership onShinsh understanding of its international mission today. Insum, this book is valuable for the new light it sheds on a keyreligious gure whose impact is often eclipsed by the sectsmore famous founder, Shinran.

    Mark MacWilliamsSt. Lawrence University

    GOING FORTH: VISIONS OF BUDDHIST VINAYA.Edited by William M. Bodiford. Honolulu: University ofHawaii Press, 2005. Pp. 344; illultrations. $48, ISBN 978-0-8248-2787-8.

    This book is a festshrift in honor of S. Weinstein and atestament to his gifts both as a scholar and a teacher giventhe vast array of fascinating essays that his former studentshave contributed to this volume on the Buddhist precepts inChina and Japan. As W. Bodiford, the editor, notes, thetypical English translation of vinaya as rules of disciplineof the Buddhist order misses its deeper meaning. As notedthroughout this volume, vinaya are also the social prac-tices for managing the operation of religious institutionsand delineating the relations between monks and laity. Addi-tionally, they play a key role in dening not only the specicidentities of Buddhist groups, but also the contours of theirinner spiritual quest. The focus of this volume is to showhow vinaya tradition was not static, but, by entering the EastAsian context, forged new organizational forms and insti-tutional structures better adapted to the demands of localculture and history. . . . The rich collection of essays beginswith Bodifords concise but extremely useful survey of theBuddhist precepts and the development of the Buddhistorder in East Asia. Other chapters hone in on particulartopics, such as the ordination platform movement in medi-eval Chinese Buddhism, the vinaya tradition and the devel-opment of Chan regulations, the precepts in Japanese Pure

    Land Buddhism, the debate over meat eating in early modernJapanese Buddhism, and so on. Going Forth is essentialreading for those who miss the practical (and political) sideof East Asian Buddhism for the philosophical and doctrinal.Indeed, to miss this means ignoring the powerful role theprecepts have played in the major institutional changes ofthe Buddhist order in East Asian history.

    Mark MacWilliamsSt. Lawrence University

    CHINESE SOCIETY IN THE AGE OF CONFUCIUS(1000-250 BC): THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVI-DENCE. By Lothar von Falkenhausen. Los Angeles: CotsenInstitute of Archaeology, University of California-LosAngeles, 2006. Pp. xxiii + 555; plates, illustrations, maps.Cloth, $70, ISBN 1-931745-31-5; paper, $40, ISBN 1-931745-30-7.

    Falkenhausen disregards the received narrative of earlyChinese intellectual, political, and religious history in orderto focus on what excavations alone can tell us about an erathat has been dened by Confucian agendas. Using inscribedbronze vessels buried in elite tombs, Falkenhausen arguesthat, although Confucians trace their practices and valuesback to the early Zhou dynasty (ca. 1046 BCE), the rituals ofthe Zhou actually originated in reforms carried out between850 and 600 BCE. A communitarian society based onkinship, which emphasized dionysian ecstasy and spiri-tual communion in ritual in a wide variety of ways acrossheterogeneous regions, the Zhou became a bureaucratizedsociety in which lineage was not necessarily destiny, whichvalued austere formalism and promoted a centralized, homo-geneous national culture. The legacies of this transformationcan be seen in the meritocratic idealism, the commitment toself-cultivation, the worship of form in ritual, the focus onthe living, and the appeal to Chineseness that are at the heartof Confucian spirituality, as well as in the Daoist bureaucra-tization of the afterlife and cosmicization of space and timein funeral ritual. While archaeological readers may quibblewith Falkenhausens periodizations and dependence uponelite grave goods, religionists will appreciate his demonstra-tion of how the texts of material culture can teach us muchabout the development of early Chinese religions. Those whoseek to broaden their approach to early China beyond clas-sical and canonical texts will benet from his book.

    Jeffrey L. RicheyBerea College

    DAOIST BODY CULTIVATION: TRADITIONALMODELS AND CONTEMPORARY PRACTICES.Edited by Livia Kohn. Magdalena, NM: Three Pines Press,2006. Pp. 243. $24.95. ISBN 978-1-931483-05-6.

    This volume brings together eight articles on varioustopics pertaining to Daoism and the cultivation of health andlongevity. While on the whole it provides a very engagingintroduction and overview of its subject matter, it is some-what lacking in original insights based on untapped primary

    Religious Studies Review VOLUME 34 NUMBER 3 SEPTEMBER 2008


  • sources or on fresh interpretations of primary materials. Themost illuminating articles in it are those by C. Despeux (TheSix Healing Breaths), S. Jackowitz (Ingestion, Digestionand Regestation), and L. Komjathy (Qigong in America).Clearly problematic is the article by M. Winn (TransformingSexual Energy with Water and Fire Alchemy). This articlepresents a very detailed, rst-hand description of sexualyogic theories and techniques that Winn himself teaches andpractices. The problem is that Winn is claiming, on verytenuous grounds, that these techniques have their origins inan ancient and continuous tradition that is Daoist. As far ascan be ascertained (and as is mentioned in Komjathysarticle), the specic theories and techniques that heand histeacher M. Chiaadvocates are likely of very recent, Ameri-can origin. In sum, this volume was compiled with theworthy purpose of providing the public with a lucid, readableoverview of Daoist health and longevity methods. It alsoaspires to advance the eld of Daoist studies by fusing theinsights of academics with those of practitioners. Unfortu-nately, it tends to mislead less-informed readers in regard tothe content and nature of Daoism as taught and practiced inChina in premodern times.

    Stephen EskildsenThe University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

    THE VIOLENCE OF LIBERATION: GENDER ANDTIBETAN BUDDHIST REVIVAL IN POST-MAOCHINA. By Charlene E. Makley. Berkeley: University ofCalifornia Press, 2007. Pp. xviii + 374; maps, gures. $60,ISBN 0-520-25059-1.

    This wonderful book works through gender to reveal therevitalizing Tibetan monastery town of Labrang, locatedin west China at the historical meeting grounds of Tibetan,Han Chinese, Hui (Chinese Muslim), and Mongol cultures.Makley (Anthropology, Reed College) is a leading gure in ageneration of scholars equally at home in local and translo-cal Tibet and China, in anthropology, religion and psychol-inguistics, and in her own subjecthood and objecthood. Thisvantage offers startling access to gendered contestationsand collusions in the [Labrang] valley, moving us fromlarger spatiotemporal and political economic contexts to theparticulars of gendered ritual and everyday encounters inand around the monastery. Throughout Makleys reasoningis densely textured and intellectually playful, both smart andwise, intimate and professional. Highly recommended for allserious libraries.

    Kidder SmithBowdoin College

    DEMOCRACYS DHARMA: RELIGIOUS RENAIS-SANCE AND POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT INTAIWAN. By Richard Madsen. Berkeley: University of Cali-fornia Press, 200. Pp. 191; illustrations. Cloth, $55, ISBN978-0-520-25227-1; paper, $21.95, ISBN 978-0-520-25228-8.

    Madsen in Democracys Dharma discusses the signi-cance of the Taiwanese versions of Buddhism and Daoism

    in shaping Taiwans emerging democracy. He argues thatpolitically progressive religions can develop in the twenty-rst century without polarizing a democratic society andthat such religions need not harm but can enhance the func-tioning of civil institutions. A coauthor and colleague of R.Bellahs, Madsen argues persuasively against two currentassumptions in political discourse regarding Asia anddemocracy: 1) that the cultures and values of Asian (read:Confucian) society are not conducive to and are incompatiblewith liberal democracy and that 2) a clash of Asian andWestern civilizations is inevitable. Madsen observes that t...