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Unfortunate Destiny
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Unfortunate Destiny: Animals in the Indian Buddhist Imagination

Reiko Ohnuma


This book focuses on the imagery and roles of nonhuman animals in premodern South Asian Buddhist literature. Part I examines the animal realm of rebirth in Buddhist doctrine and cosmology and shows that early Buddhist literature depicts the animal rebirth as a most “unfortunate destiny” (Skt. durgati), won through negative karma and characterized by violence, fear, suffering, and a lack of wisdom, moral agency, or spiritual potential. It also shows that although animals are capable of being reborn in heaven, the means by which this occurs are passive in nature, highly dependent upon the physic ... More

Keywords: Buddhism, Indian Buddhism, South Asian Buddhism, animals, Buddha, jātaka

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2017 Print ISBN-13: 9780190637545
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190637545.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Reiko Ohnuma, author
Professor of Religion, Dartmouth College