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Peter J. Claus pclaus at
Wed Oct 2 00:42:38 UTC 1996

Date: October 1, 1996 
Indology List
indology at
Dear Members,
A colleague asked me about the significance of the
repeated phrase in a particular Buddhist sutra.  It
begins each of the discourses of the Buddha, after he
arrived at a meeting place and is greeted.  The phrase
is translated:
"He (the questioner) bared his right shoulder and
clasped his hands ...."
What is the significance of "baring the right
shoulder"?  It is not, to my knowledge, a practice
found generally in India today, nor even in
ethnographic literature.  
It would seem that the clothing worn which would be
removed to "bare the right shoulder" would be the robe
which monks distinctively wore.  Would that mean that
the gesture only occurred (perhaps somewhat
anachronistically) within the monastic community?  
Does anyone know the origin of the robe and this
gesture?  Is it perhaps Greek?  Isn't the robe found in
Buddhist sculpture only in the Greek-influenced
Gandharan school?
Peter J. Claus                        
fax: (510) 704-9636
pclaus at

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