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David Gray | Contested Origins: The Hindu Hymn of the Person, the Origin of the Caste System, and the Buddhist Responses
In this lecture, Gray will relate a fascinating case involving Indian scriptural debates over the origin of the social hierarchy. He will begin by considering the ancient and famous Hindu Hymn, the Purusha-shukta, which provides a mythic account of the origin of the universe and the caste system. He will then address Buddhist responses to this myth, which include the presentation of a counter-myth in the Agañña Sutta. Gray will also consider how the caste system is treated in other Buddhist scriptural works, including the Cakrasamvara Tantra.
David Gray is Associate Professor, Religious Studies at Santa Clara University. He received his B.A. in Religious Studies from Wesleyan University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in the History of Religion from Columbia University. His research explores the development of tantric Buddhist traditions in South Asia, and their dissemination in Tibet and East Asia, with a focus on the Yogin tantras, a genre of Buddhist tantric literature that focused on female deities and yogic practices involving the subtle body. He focuses particularly on the Cakrasamvara Tantra, an esoteric Indian Buddhist scripture that serves as the basis for a number of important Nepali and Tibetan Buddhist practice traditions.