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How the Buddha Came to Japan

Exporting Enlightenment

Wednesday, June 26, 2013
8:00 PM–9:30 PM

According to legend the first image of the Buddha was not only drawn from life but was itself alive. It was carved on the order of an Indian king who longed for the Buddha’s presence after the Buddha had left his kingdom. When the Buddha returned the image rose to greet him.Replicas of the miraculous image were produced in India, China, and Japan. This talk explores the transmission of this legend, and the replication of this legendary image in Japan, where it served to bridge the temporal and spatial gulf between Buddhist devotees and the object of their devotion.
This richly illustrated keytalk is part of Exporting Enlightenment, a ten-part series over the summer that traces the spread of Buddhism and Hinduism along these cultural and trade trajectories. For the full series that accompanies the exhibition From India East see

About the Speaker

D. Max Moerman is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures at Barnard College, Columbia University. He is the author of Localizing Paradise: Kumano Pilgrimage and the Religious Landscape of Premodern Japan and the forthcomingGeographies of the Imagination: Buddhist Cosmology and the Japanese World Map, 1364-1865.