The Translation of Life: Thinking of Painting in Indian Buddhist Literature

Sonam Kachru
2020 Religions  
What are paintings? Is there a distinctive mode of experience paintings enable? What is the value of such experience? This essay explores such questions, confining attention for the most part to a few distinctive moments in Indian Buddhist texts. In particular, I focus on invocations of painting in figures of speech, particularly when paintings are invoked to make sense of events or experiences of particular importance. The aim is not to be exhaustive, but to suggest a meta-poetic orientation:
more » ... n the basis of moments where authors think with figurations of painting, I want to suggest that in Buddhist texts one begins to find a growing regard for the possibilities of re-ordering and transvaluing sense experience. After suggesting the possibility of this on the basis of a preliminary consideration of some figures of speech invoking painting, this essay turns to the reconstruction of what I call aesthetic stances to make sense of the idea of new possibilities in sense experience. I derive the concept of "aesthetic stances" on the basis of a close reading of a pivotal moment in one Buddhist narrative, the defeat of Māra in The Legend of Aśoka.
doi:10.3390/rel11090467 fatcat:vqhzsgxjnfa2znptqza4smebcq