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Grant number like: FB-54777-10

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Ronald Mark Davidson
Fairfield University (Fairfield, CT 06824-5195)

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars
Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2010 – 8/31/2011

Imperial Buddhas, Tantric Origins: the Emperor Arising from the Buddha's Turban

I apply for a fellowship to complete a book on the origins of Buddhist Tantrism in 7th-8th century CE India, examining Buddhist documents in Sanskrit, Chinese or Tibetan. They describe the earliest tantric Buddhist system, "the Emperor from the Buddha's Turban," alluding to myths and rituals about an imperial Buddha coming from the Buddha's "turban" (usnisa). The project's historical contribution is to clarify the emergence of Buddhist tantrism, spreading throughout Eurasia within a century, as these texts have never been examined by scholars of Indian Buddhism. The book's theoretical contribution will be to non-Western religio-political discourses among minority communities, to inter-religious intertextuality, and to the theory of ritual speech acts. Imperial Buddhas builds on my previous research into tantric Buddhism and on forthcoming papers. The book will be submitted to Columbia U. Press, my publisher, and will be for a non-specialized readership.