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date: 31 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Through a comparison of Buddhist theological conceptions of death, archaeological traces of mortuary practices, and early Buddhist inscriptions this chapter explores Buddhist views on death and mortuary ritual between 500 BCE and 200 CE. Rather than attempting to neatly synthesize the differences between religious doctrine and ritual practice, the chapter illustrates the value of examining the disjunctures between the two: disjunctures which illuminate many of the central tenets of Early Buddhism. As such, the chapter identifies productive fissures between text/practice, religion/ritual, and the esoteric/the quotidian. Central to all of these discussions are two simple questions. Who warrants worship after death and how should this worship be performed? These questions are addressed within a general introduction to the archaeology of death and dying as shown in early Buddhist textual sources and examinations of key archaeological sites in South Asia.

Keywords: archaeology, history, epigraphy, Buddhism, stupas, mortuary ritual

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