Lives Lived, Lives Imagined

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A multifaceted, multitradition portrait of Buddhist biographies.


Biography in the Buddhist Traditions

Linda Covill Ulrike Roesler Sarah Shaw

From the Buddha in ancient India to a nun in modern-day Los Angeles, Lives Lived, Lives Imagined crosses time, traditions, and cultures to present fascinating depictions of lives lived on the Buddhist path. Buddhist biographies come to life in many forms; they come from known poets and anonymous compilers; they are told by bards and even enacted by performers; they may also be autobiographies, either public or secret. Equally diverse have been the purposes they have served—as models for emulation, as origin stories for a particular community or lineage, or as narrative explications of doctrine.

This book, a collection of papers presented at a conference at the University of Oxford, presents a multifaceted, multitradition portrait of Buddhist biographies. Part 1 deals with biographies of the Buddha, investigating Chinese and Pali sources and the Sanskrit dramatizations of Asvaghosa. Part 2 contains modern Buddhist life stories, including a rare autobiography from Burma. Part 3 explores the Tibetan tradition, including such well-known figures as Milarepa, Shakya Chogden, and Karmapa Mikyö Dorje. Together, these biographies and studies reveal the rich diversity of Buddhism’s myriad incarnations over its long history and the dynamic scope of its thought and practice.

Read the biographies of the Eighth Karmapa Mikyo Dorje and Milarepa at the Treasury of Lives.

book information
  • Paperback
  • 352 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 inches
  • $24.95
  • ISBN 9780861715787
about the author
Lives Lived, Lives Imagined

Linda Covill received her PhD from the University of Oxford and is the author of Handsome Nanda, a translation and a study of Aśvaghoṣa’s Saundarananda.

Lives Lived, Lives Imagined

Ulrike Roesler teaches Indian studies at the University of Freiburg in Germany and specializes in the history of the Tibetan Kadampa tradition.

Other books by Ulrike Roesler:
Stages of the Buddha’s Teachings

Lives Lived, Lives Imagined

Sarah Shaw read Greek and English at Manchester University, where she took a doctorate in English. She studied Pali at Oxford, and is on the steering committee of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. She is a mother, teacher, and writer. She practises with the Samatha Association of Britain.

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