Religions of South Asia, Vol 3, No 1 (2009)

The Two Faces of Deva: The Māra/Brahmā Tandem

Michael Nichols
Issued Date: 22 May 2010


In this paper, I demonstrate how a comparison of the portrayals of Brahmadevas with the figure of Māra in Buddhist Pali texts can tell us a great deal about Indian Buddhist sociology that has been overlooked previously. This coordination of Brahma and Māra clearly serves to hierarchize human Brahmins as either potential allies in religious practice or demonic impediments, showing a direct link between Buddhist mythic narrative and conceptualizations of social categories. This paper demonstrates how attention to connections between mythic narrative and social interaction sheds light on the complexities of Indian Buddhist attitudes toward their Brahmanical competitors.

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DOI: 10.1558/rosa.v3i1.45


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