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Written in Flames: Self-Immolation in Sixth-Century Sichuan

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This article discusses the religious career and self-immolation (which involved public acts of burning the fingers and body) of the sixth-century monk, Sengyai. The author discusses the sources for a study of his life, and translates the extant biographical materials. He demonstrates that self-immolation was a practice open to multiple interpretations, and that Sengyai?s act was understood as one of cosmic significance in a religious milieu in which recent political events such as the fall of the Liang dynasty were interpreted as signs of the decline of the dharma. Cet article s'intéresse à la carrière religieuse d'un moine du vie siècle, Sengyai, et à ses actes publics d'auto-immolation, tels que la crémation, d'abord, de ses doigts, et ensuite de son corps tout entier. L'auteur examine les sources permettant d'étudier sa vie et propose une traduction des matériaux existants. Il montre que la pratique de l'auto-immolation s'offrait à de multiples interprétations, et que les actions de Sengyai étaient conçues comme revêtant une signification cosmique au sein d'un milieu où des événements politiques tels que la chute de la dynastie des Liang étaient vécus comme des signes du déclin du dharma.


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