Animals in the Indian Buddhist Imagination
Oxford University Press 2017
New Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in Buddhist StudiesNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Literary StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books in South Asian StudiesNew Books Network March 20, 2018 Natasha Heller
Reiko Ohnuma‘s Unfortunate Destiny: Animals in the Indian Buddhist Imagination (Oxford University Press, 2017) is a masterful treatment of animals in Indian Buddhist literature. Although they are lower than humans in the paths of rebirth, stories about animals show them as virtuous and generous—and often the victim of human failings. In the life stories of the Buddha, animals serve as “doubles,” thereby adding nuance and complexity to various episodes in the Buddha’s life. Ohnuma, in this groundbreaking study, argues that animals in Indian Buddhist literature serve to illuminate what it means to be a human being.