The Study of Cult; With Special Reference to the Cult of the Buddha

Falk, Nancy E.

     This dissertation has four parts. The first, entitled 'The Cult of Relics,' is primarily intended as a general presentation of the cult. Hopefully it [allows] the reader to appreciate the importance of the aspects chosen for more detailed study, but also to gather some perspective on the peculiar circumstances under which the cult grew. This section follows a roughly historic outline. The next part examines several prominent aspects of the cult of relics with special reference first to their explicitly Buddhist interpretations and next to their broader cultural associations. The third, 'Yakshas Have Teeth,' follows the same pattern of approach; but in this case we shall take up the cult of one particular, rather extraordinary relic whose practice sheds important light on a more general problem of the cult. The final chapter, 'Interpreting the Cult of the Buddha's Relics,'. . . is especially interested in the problem of certain discrepancies between the interpretation offered by the historians of religions and self-interpretations of the cult as offered in the Buddhist textual tradition. The study draws upon sources from the ancient Buddhist traditions of both India and Ceylon.

Joseph Kitagawa