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Relics of Misunderstanding? Chinese Sheli and Indic Sarira in the Mahaparinirvana-sutra and Elsewhere

by Jonathan Silk, UCLA

The process of translation is one of the important media through which Buddhism, and particularly Buddhist ideas, migrate from place to place. But translation can never be simply loyal transmission; it is rather an exercise in understnading and interpretation. Sometimes that understanding, or its communication, can go astray. In this paper I examine one set of cases in which we confront a translation difficult to understand, but one which may, in the end, help us understand something about the process of early Chinese understandings of Indian Buddhism.

Conference paper presented at Buddhism In (and Out of) Place Conference held 17-18 October 2004

Center for Buddhist Studies