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Devotional, Covenantal And Yogic: Three Episodes In The Religious Use Of Alphabet And Letter From A Millennium Of Great Vehicle Buddhism

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Chapter Summary

This chapter is divided into three parts, roughly dividing the millennium into thirds: (1) the first three centuries of the common era, (2) the next three centuries, and (3) the following centuries ending in the vicinity of the eleventh century. Perhaps these time spans do somehow correspond to the three themes of the chapter: devotional, covenantal and yogic. Dharma is the usual word for Buddhism as a whole, for scriptures, and for sets of factors that go together to sustain the vicious circle of everyday suffering called samsara, as well as sets of factors that go together to sustain the path to the cessation of suffering called nirvāna. To demonstrate briefly the connection of yogic physiology with sound, phoneme, letter and alphabet, the author draws attention to a particular set of five couplets, of the type of song called dohā (‘couplet’).

Keywords: Buddhism; covenantal; letter; yogic physiology

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