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Department of the Study of Religions

Ms Sinae Kim

BA (Seoul National University, South Korea), MA (Seoul National University, South Korea)


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Ms Sinae Kim
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Thesis title:
Buddhist Scripture and Oral Performance in Medieval China: A Study on the Dunhuang Manuscripts of the “Sūtra Lecture Text on the Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra” (Weimojiejing jiangjingwen 維摩詰經講經文)
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PhD Research

This study aims to demonstrate how the ordinary Chinese people understood Buddhist narratives through the way of oral performance such as public lecture and preaching of Buddhist sūtras during the medieval period in China. It tries to understand better the socio-religious life and the mentality of the ordinary people in medieval China by examining the Sūtra Lecture Text on the Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra (Weimojiejing jiangjingwen 維摩詰經講經文), which provides some clues about the actual, local, and popular Buddhism during the period. This study will demonstrate the close connection between vernacular oral literature and popular religious practices. Furthermore, through a research on the actual religious and social lives of Buddhist monks and lay people in Dunhuang area, the differences between the idealized and the actual forms of Buddhism will come to light. Lastly, a research on the Sūtra Lecture Text on the Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra should take into account the dynamic relationships that occur between the so-called canonical, practical, and popular realms. Based on the survey of the socio-historical background of the Buddhist sūtra lecture tradition and the actual lives of the clergy and the laity in Dunhuang, this study will practically interpret the text as a literary work as well as historical material. Bringing together the text analysis gathered in the religious, cultural, and social spheres, particularly through the examination on the Weimojiejing jiangjingwen, I hope to contribute to an improved understanding of the religious and daily lives of people and the role of popular Buddhist preaching and lecturing in medieval China.