Talk:Buddhist mythology

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Mythology (Rated Stub-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is supported by WikiProject Mythology. This project provides a central approach to Mythology-related subjects on Wikipedia. Please participate by editing the article, and help us assess and improve articles to good and 1.0 standards, or visit the WikiProject page for more details.
Stub-Class article Stub  This article has been rated as Stub-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Buddhism (Rated Stub-class)
WikiProject icon This article falls within the scope of WikiProject Buddhism, an attempt to promote better coordination, content distribution, and cross-referencing between pages dealing with Buddhism. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page for more details on the projects.
Stub-Class article Stub  This article has been rated as Stub-Class on the project's quality scale.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.


Mara (demon) and Phra Mae Thorani should be included. The encounter between the two was THE pivotal moment making possible enlightenment of the Buddha, according to what's in this on-line study guide by Dr. Richard M. Cooler (Last updated: 11/02/09). "The Enlightened Buddha" (Illustrated study guide). The art and culture of Burma, Chapter III The Pagan period : Burma's classic age - 11th To 14th centuries, Part 4 §D Sculpture, ¶2a. SEAsite, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Northern Illinois University. Retrieved 6:17 PM 1/20/2011. The purpose of this on-line study-guide and course-outline is to make text and visual materials on the arts of Burma readily and inexpensively available, in particular to students and teachers.  Check date values in: |access-date=, |date= (help)

Google Books references:

--Pawyilee (talk) 04:28, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

This article has nothing to do with mythology. It should be deleted and started again.[edit]

With due respect to the people who put the effort to make the page, this really has nothing to do with mythology. All it does is list some things that some Buddhists believe that are not accepted by science. That's not mythology.

A myth is a sacred story. The study of mythology is the study of sacred stories, their nature and role within the cultures that tell the stories. Any Wikipedia page on mythology should relate in a meaningful way to how mythology is treated elsewhere on Wikipedia, such as:

As for the page as it is now, the information on deities should be moved to the relevant page on Tibetan deities, the info on cosmology should be moved to cosmology. That's all there is, so it should be started again.

The article is rated as a stub and of little importance. This is appropriate for how the article is currently, but it is not how it should be. It has long been recognized that Buddhist mythology is among the world's great mythic corpuses. TW Rhy Davids said that the Jatakas are the oldest, largest, and best preserved collection of folk tales in the world. CF Rhys Davids said that the Jatakas collectively made up the greatest account of the ascent of man ever told. Campbell included the life of the Buddha prominently in his Hero with a Thousand Faces, which is not only the most influential book on mythology in the twentieth century, but one of the most influential books ever of any kind. And yet the Buddhist and scholarly community can collectively think of approximately nothing to say about Buddhist myth here on Wikipedia. It's embarrassing.

Here are some of the things that a proper article on Buddhist mythology should include. Buddhist mythology is chronically understudied and primitive, so finding decent sources for many of these things will be hard. But some of them are available. I'm sorry that I'm just complaining rather than contributing, but hopefully this is a start.

Survey of mythic corpus[edit]

  • The life of the Buddha in the early texts.
  • The life of the Buddha as expanded in later Indian texts, and as received by the traditions.
  • The extended life of the Buddha, i.e. the Jatakas and prohecies, in Pali and other traditions.
  • The creation myth of the Agganna Sutta and similar.
  • Myths in Mahayana texts.
  • Other


  • Renunciation and Awakening.
  • Psychological themes, defilements and purification.
  • Geography (Mountains, rivers ...)
  • Animals (Talking and otherwise, characters like the lion and the jackal ...)
  • Politics (the role of the Cakkavatti ...)
  • Gender (portrayal of masculinity and femininity, gender change across lives, intersex ...)
  • Adoption and inversion of Brahmanical myth. (Sakka in the Sagathavagga)
  • Relation of Buddhism to other religions (compare the classic Buddhist yakkha conversion tale, where the vicious deity is peacefully converted, with the typical Greek rape/abduction version of the same story.)
  • Survey of classic mythic themes (cf. the Christian mythology page), as found in Campbell, etc. giving Buddhist sources and where relevant special Buddhist takes on the themes (eg. Creation is not really creation)

Historical context[edit]

  • Sources of Buddhist myth (Brahmanical, folk, shared with Aesop)
  • Creative myth (What is new?)
  • Famous myths found in Buddhist versions (Ramayana, etc.)
  • Mythic vision of society (static society portrayed in Jatakas, Mahabharata, compare Western fantasy of imaginary medieval)
  • Storytellers: who were the gatekeepers of story? How did they influence what was told? What counternarratives are there?
  • Regional variations and developments, in India and elsewhere.
  • Myth as propaganda in establishing Buddhist schools and authenticating traditions (See my Sects & Sectarianism)

Forms of myth[edit]

  • Literary styles and development (Asvaghosa)
  • Art (Sanchi, etc)
  • Performance of myth: drama, song, etc.

Interpretations of Buddhist myth[edit]

  • In Buddhist traditions of the past
  • Contemporary emic (See 'White Bones Red Rot Black Snakes' by Sujato. That's me!)
  • Contemporary etic (Campbell, Calasso ...)
  • Relation between myth and history as seen in traditions (do Buddhists believe the stories?)
  • Denial of myth in Buddhist Modernism (which is why, I believe, this page is so poor. Modernist Buddhists essentially deny the fact that they have a mythology, and hence, don't understand it.)

Myth in Buddhist societies[edit]

  • Forms of mythmaking in Buddhist cultures (eg. telling of Vessantara in Thailand, relation to both dana and child abuse)
  • Enduring power of symbols (tooth relic)
  • Political and other cultural use of myth (eg. the Thai king regularly told Jatakas, which always contained some contemporary message.)
  • Revision of myth (modernist tendencies)
  • Sacred holidays, stories told on them and their role in culture.
  • Non-Buddhist myths and their place in Buddhist culture (eg. Ramayana in SE Asia, churning of milk-ocean sculpture in Suvannabhumi airport.)

Contemporary Buddhist myths[edit]

  • Hagiographies of Buddhist saints (Thai forest tradition, Empty Cloud, Tibetan tulkus). How these relate to the Buddha's life, etc.
  • Film (Little Buddha...)
  • TV ( Monkey! Recent Indian series on the life of the Buddha)
  • Comic books (
  • Narrative retellings (Old Path White Clouds)
  • Buddhist themes in contemporary myths (Star Wars, Matrix ...)
  • Incorporation of modern motifs in Buddhist myth (Neo in Thai temple ...)
  • Invented myth as modern propaganda (Dhammakaya as the primordial Adi-buddha)
  • Technological change and effect on myth
  • Use of Jatakas and life of the Buddha in Buddhist education, especially for children.

Sujato (talk) 00:47, 13 September 2015 (UTC)

@Sujato:: This is all very well, but there is nothing here to say your opinion of what constitutes Buddhist mythology is any better than what is here already.
Perhaps you would be better served writing a draft on your userpage (like this: User:Sujato/Buddhist mythology) and then proposing it as a replacement to what is here now. Moonraker12 (talk) 22:47, 22 December 2015 (UTC)
@Moonraker12:: Thanks for the suggestions, I will do that. I have worked to some degree to flesh out my ideas, but they are still very much incomplete. Nevertheless, at the least it is a way of approaching the topic that in fact deals with the mythology.

I don't understand how you can say, "here is nothing here to say your opinion of what constitutes Buddhist mythology is any better than what is here already". I'm not being sarcastic or dismissive, I just don't get it. The current article has nothing to do with mythology proper. I have already referred to multiple Wikipedia articles on mythology to support this. Let me quote from the Britannica, my emphasis:

Myth: a symbolic narrative, usually of unknown origin and at least partly traditional, that ostensibly relates actual events and that is especially associated with religious belief. It is distinguished from symbolic behaviour (cult, ritual) and symbolic places or objects (temples, icons). Myths are specific accounts of gods or superhuman beings involved in extraordinary events or circumstances in a time that is unspecified but which is understood as existing apart from ordinary human experience. The term mythology denotes both the study of myth and the body of myths belonging to a particular religious tradition.

The existing page simply doesn't address "sacred story" or "symbolic narrative" at all, and hence is not about mythology. At most, it mentions a few supernatural beings who appear in some forms of Buddhist mythology. But that's like writing an article on "politics" and saying, "Barack Obama is a politician". Without context, it's meaningless.

Apart from that, the article is poorly written. As just one example, the introductory paragraph ends with:

Saraswati is a Hindu Deva from Gandhara and the kami are considered to be local, Japanese bodhisattvas by many Japanese Buddhists).

I don't even know where to start. Random information, introduced without context, shoddily written, lacking references, with typos and errors. Sujato (talk) 02:10, 19 January 2016 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified 2 external links on Buddhist mythology. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, please set the checked parameter below to true or failed to let others know (documentation at {{Sourcecheck}}).

You may set the |checked=, on this template, to true or failed to let other editors know you reviewed the change. If you find any errors, please use the tools below to fix them or call an editor by setting |needhelp= to your help request.

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

If you are unable to use these tools, you may set |needhelp=<your help request> on this template to request help from an experienced user. Please include details about your problem, to help other editors.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 07:11, 10 November 2016 (UTC)