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Relics of the Buddha (Buddhisms) Hardcover – August 15, 2004

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Product Details

  • Series: Buddhisms
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (August 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691117640
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691117645
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,525,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"In an engaging new study, John Strong surveys a number of legends surrounding the Buddha's relics in South and Southeast Asia. [He] suggests that narratives about the Buddha's relics . . . extend the Buddha's legacy far beyond ancient India and contributed to the spread of dharma and the legitimization of Buddhist kings."--Holly Gayley, Buddhadharma

"John S. Strong, in his Relics of the Buddha . . . has achieved the first comprehensive study of Buddhist relics to date. . . . [His] work will undoubtedly constitute, for decades to come, the standard for research on the larger meaning of relic veneration in the Buddhist world."--Brian O. Ruppert, Journal of Asian Studies

"John S. Strong has produced a highly readable, engaging, lucidly argued and authoritative analysis of the place of relics across the Buddhist world. His book should be read by anyone in Buddhist studies and really by anyone interested in comparative religion, particularly in aspects of religion and material practice."--Jacob N. Kinnard, Religion

From the Inside Flap

"The soundness of the scholarship is superb and wonderfully exemplary. Strong's firm command of the relevant sources, some very old and some very contemporary, is evident at every level and in every chapter of the book. The scholarly shelf life of this work will be enduring, chiefly because any future student or scholar hoping to conduct research can follow any of the myriad leads that Strong has provided."--John C. Holt, Bowdoin College

"This work is a major contribution to Buddhist studies and the study of religion. The comprehensive and innovative approach, its engaging accessibility, and the author's clear and elegant writing style, ensure that it will play a formative role in redefining how scholars and the general public think about Buddhism."--Kevin Trainor, University of Vermont

"Truly a masterpiece. John Strong takes up the paradigmatic theme in Buddhist thought and practice in a most seminal work certain to become a classic in the field. Strong's command of textual materials is highly impressive and his style of argumentation, like his writing, is highly engaging. . . ."--Juliane Schober, Arizona State University

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marina on March 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Strong departs from the traditional view of Buddhist relics as either embodiments of a transcendent, absent Buddha, or as functionally equivalent to the departed Buddha. Rather, he approaches relics as extensions of the Buddha's biographical process -- "bioramas", he calls them -- the story of someone who comes and goes (the tathagatha) -- reflecting the Buddhist view of the nature of reality as constituting impermanence and change. He provides a wide ranging discussion of the role of relics in this regard. I found his discussion of the Jataka stories to be particularly important, suggesting that while they are individually construed as morally edifying, taken together they can be seen as a "biorama in which the Buddha can be present." He links them to the physical relics, arguing that both have roles in the formation of the "buddha body", the one working towards its formation, "the other in asserting its ongoing presence."
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By Verre on December 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a magnificent book, very well-researched and touching on such fascinating topics. For anyone under the disturbingly commonplace yet revisionist impression that Buddhism is a "philosophy" and not a religion, this analysis of the tradition relic worship would be a helpful corrective. The book's scholarly merits deserve a full five-stars, but I was disappointed in this particular edition. I seem to remember once using a library copy hardbound in red covers that was quite nice (it must have been the original 2004 Princeton UP edition), but this one was reprinted by Motilal Banarsidass in 2007 and is on a much cheaper and less durable paperstock. I'm just not a fan that rough texture and dingy, off-white color of the kind of paper used in mass-market paperbacks, especially in a hardbound book like this one, and I've noticed that this is a common trait in Indian printings. On the bright side, this printing allows a valuable scholarly text to be remain available for a reasonable price, unlike so many that fall out of print and then receive absurd mark-ups in the secondary market.
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