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RELIGST 322: Mummies, Ghost, and Relics: Understandings of the Sacred Dead (RELIGST 222)

What can skeletons of the past teach us about Buddhism? Why would monks choose to self-mummify to become 'living buddhas' in their communities? Can a female become a living buddha? What about an animal? Or a child? And, what happens to the souls of young children and fetuses in the afterworld? Such questions are addressed in this course, which examines how Buddhist cultures across East Asia perceive death, conceptually and physically, through corpses, mummies, ghosts, and relics. Focusing on textual and material culture from India, China, Japan, and Korea, we will examine secondary scholarship in English on Buddhist sutras, popular stories, oral traditions, and material objects. A larger goal of this course is to present various cultural understandings of life, the body, death, and the afterlife. Undergraduates register for 200-level for 5 units. Graduate students register for 300-level for 3-5 units.
Terms: Spr | Units: 3-5
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