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Koichi Shinohara

Koichi Shinohara works on Buddhism in East Asia. Before coming to Yale in 2004 he taught at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. He has written on a variety of topics including Chinese Buddhist biographies, monastic rules, and Buddhist story literature, with a focus on the works of a famous historian and a vinaya specialist Daoxuan (596-677) and his collaborator Daoshi (dates unknown). Daoshi was the compiler of the Fayuan zhulin, an encyclopedic anthology of scriptural passages and Chinese Buddhist miracle stories. Shinohara reads Buddhist biographies as a distinct type of religious literature and through the study of these biographies, he also became interested in sacred places and the stories told about them. Daoxuan's writings on monastic practices opened doors to unexpected readings of Chinese Buddhist miracle stories. More recently, he has been studying the evolution of early esoteric Buddhist rituals through Chinese sources. These rituals emerged in India and developed from simpler recitation of spells to elaborate rituals performed in front of images and mandalas. Though much of the early evidence for this development no longer exists in Indic languages, it has been preserved in Chinese dharani collections and translations, some of which can be dated fairly reliably. This study sheds some light on the relationship between ritual and images.

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