's avataaras and phases of human life

Matthew Kapstein mkapstei at MIDWAY.UCHICAGO.EDU
Tue Jun 1 15:19:33 UTC 2004

> This of course raises the larger question of when exactly the
> das'aavataara scheme takes on its canonical form. The late
> A.L. Basham once remarked to me that he did not know of
> its datable occurrence in the literature prior to the
> das'aavataaracarita of K.semendra, which would imply
> that the Kaalacakra is in fact the earliest roughly
> datable source. But on the surface it seems that this
> can't be correct. I join with Prof. Newman in seeking
> enlightenment from those who are expert in the early 
> Vai.s.nava corpus. Of course, art historical evidence
> might also help to date the basic ten avataara scheme.
> Matthew Kapstein
> > The 11th cent. Buddhist Kaalacakra tantra (2nd pa.tala, vv. 6-8) 
> > employs the names of the ten avataaras of to designate ten 
> > phases of human life, from conception to death. I would be grateful 
> > for any references to comparable usage in other Indic sources, or for 
> > expert judgement that this usage is unique to the Kaalacakra.
> > 
> > John Newman
> > Humanities
> > New College of Florida
> > Sarasota, FL 34243 USA
> > 

Matthew Kapstein
Numata Professor of Buddhist Studies
The Divinity School of the University of Chicago

Directeur d'études
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris

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