CONFERENCE> From Jetavana to Jerusalem, in Honour of Dr. Phyllis Granoff (November 7–9, 2021, Zoom)

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Dear colleagues,

We are excited to announce that the registration for From Jetavana to Jerusalem: Sacred Biography in Asian Perspectives and Beyond: An international Conference in Honour of Dr. Phyllis Granoff is open.

Date: November 7–9, 2021

Time: Conference begins daily at 6:00 am PDT | 9:00 EST | 4:00pm ISR | 9:00pm China




This online international conference is jointly hosted by the Glorisun Global Network for Buddhist Studies at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Yale University, and UBC in honour of Prof. Phyllis Granoff.

Sacred biographies constitute a highly valuable source for the study of religious life. Having long been underappreciated by scholars in the field until the publication of Speaking of Monks (1992) by Phyllis Granoff and Koichi Shinohara, today a substantial and growing body of literature explores the ways that accounts of the lives of religious achievers help us to understand practice and belief. The plethora of recent publications on hagio-biography indicates a lively conversation is underway about the methods and theories that allow for cross-cultural study of these important materials. Exploring sacred biographies produced and circulated within and well beyond Asia, the “From Jetavana to Jerusalem” Conference aims to build on this path-breaking scholarship to further explore how transcultural and cross border approaches to the study of hagio-biography, in particular, strengthen our understandings of monastic figures, as well as the communities who celebrate their legacies.

Scholars will pursue questions including, but not limited to: What do the telling and retelling of saintly lives achieve for individuals and communities? What forms do hagio-biographies take? Which factors inform their composition? How do records of religious achievers illuminate the study of ritual, music, art, and material culture?

This event free and open to the public. Both English and Chinese are working languages for the conference.


Schedule: (times below are in PDT)

DAY 1 – November 7

Session 1 (6:00 am - 7:10 am)
Welcoming Remarks from Co-hosts, Laudatory and Congratulatory messages, & Keynote Speech

1.1.   Remarks from Co-hosts, Laudatory and Congratulatory messages

1.2.   David Shulman (Hebrew University of Jerusalem): The Malayali Brahmin who Buried his Gods: A Rare Eighteenth-century Autobiography from Kerala (Keynote Speech)

Session 2 (7:20 am - 7:55am)
Mad Monks, Bat Monks and Miraculous Monks 癲僧、蝙僧與神僧 (Chair: Michael NYLAN; Discussant: CHEN Zhiyuan 陳志遠)

2.1.   James Robson (Harvard): The Ambivalent Bat: The Place of “Bat Monks” within Buddhism

2.2.   LI Wei 李巍 (HenanU 河南大學): 神異、儀式與咒念:《高僧傳》僧人的療愈故事 Miracles, Rituals and Spells: Healing Narratives in the Biographies of Eminent Monks

2.3.   GE Zhouzi 葛洲子 (Shanxi Normal U 陝西師範大學): 癲僧乎,神僧乎?:北宋禪師言法華的成聖之路 A Mad Monk or a Miraculous Monk?: Holy Path of Chan Master Yan Fahua 言法華 in Northern Song Dynasty

Session 3 (8:00 am - 8:35 am)
Between and Beyond Secular and Sacred 聖俗之間、聖俗之外 (Chair: Alexandra KALOYANIDES; Discussant: ZHAO You 趙悠)

3.1.   Eli Franco (Leipzig): Dharmakīrti’s (ca. 600-660) Biographies, Sacred and Less Sacred

3.2.   Michael Nylan (Berkeley) and Marty Verhoeven (Dharma Realm Buddhist University, Ukiah, CA): Swimming with the Masters: Sacred Biographies and Hallowed Figures

3.3.   Albert Welter (Arizona): Secularizing the Sacred? Wang Yucheng’s 王禹偁 (954-1001) Biography of Buddhist Master Zanning 贊寧 (919-1001)

Session 4 (8:40 am - 9:15 am)
The Buddha’s Lives, Told and Retold 佛所行: 贊以再贊 (Chair: Eli FRANCO; Discussant: Cuilan LIU 劉翠蘭

4.1.   Robert Brown (UCLA): Material Choices

4.2.   Susan Andrews (Mount Alison U): Representation Matters: Picture Book Presentations of Śākyamuni’s Life

4.3.   Margarita Delgado Creamer (Pittsburgh): The Buddha’s Life Story and the transmission of Buddhism to Latin-America

DAY 2 – November 8

Session 5 (6:00 am - 7:00am)
Monks in Motion 遊僧 (Chair: WANG Bangwei 王邦維; Co-discussants:  Kirill SOLONIN and James ROBSON)

5.1.   Peter Flügel (SOAS): Jaina mendicants as generalized media and embodiments of social relations

5.2.   LIU Cuilan 劉翠蘭 (Pittsburg): The Tang Buddhist Monk Xuanzang 玄奘 (602-664) and His Illegal Travel to India

5.3.   Jeffrey Kotyk (UBC): Reports of Japanese Monks in China: Accounts in the Nittō guhō junrei kōki 入唐求法巡禮行記 (Record of Travel to the Tang in Search of the Dharma) by Ennin 圓仁 (794–864)

5.4.   HOU Haoran 侯浩然 (Tsing-hua 清華): rGwa Lotsāba gZhon nu dpal (1105/1110–1198/1202) and His Travel to India

5.5.   Ming Chen 陳明 (PekingU 北大): “Meditation Master Bird Nest”: The Biographies Surrounding a Legendary Chinese Monk in the Modern India 鳥巢禪師: 一位民國時期在印奇僧的事蹟書寫

Session 6 (7:10 am - 7:45 am)
Monks and Monarchs 僧與君 (Chair: Jacqueline STONE; Discussant: Jeffrey KOTYK)

6.1.   YANG Qilin 楊奇霖 (ShanghaiU 上海大學): 聖傳與檔案:二世哲布尊丹巴傳記的文獻來源——兼論清朝與喀爾喀蒙古的政教互動 (1723-1733) Sacred Biography and Archives: The Textual Sources for the Biography of Jebtsundamba II, With Comments on the Religious and Political Interactions that Involved the Qing Empire and the Khalkha Mongol

6.2.   WANG Qiyuan 王啟元 (Fudan 復旦): 紫柏真可晚節:續“妖書”案與“三大負” Zibo Zhenke’s 紫柏真可 (1543-1603) Integrity in His Late Years: With a Focus on His Involvement in the New Legal Cases of “Evil Books” and His So-called “Three Great Aspirations”

6.3.   Yagi (Yaara) Morris (UW-Madison): Trajectories of Past Lives and the Formation of an Imperial Landscape: An Exploration of a Medieval Japanese Esoteric Buddhist Text

Session 7 (7:50 am - 8:50 am)
Techniques,  Media and Sacred Biography 方技、媒介與聖傳 (Chair: Aleksander USKOKOV; Discussant: Eugene WANG)

7.1.   Haiyan Hu-von Hinüber (Freiburg): What happened to Xuanzang in Nālandā in the year 642?: The Divination of the Jain Vajhara and its Influence on Xuanzang’s Decision returning to China

7.2.   Marko Geslani (South Carolina): The Perils of Prediction: Jain Biographies of Varāhamihira

7.3.   Pia Brancaccio (Drexel): Buddhist siddhas in Konkan: Asceticism, Hagiographies and Art at the Kanheri caves (Maharashtra, India)

7.4.   Sahaj Patel (Vanderbilt): Codes in the Margins: Modern Technologies in the Sacred Biography of Pramukh Swami Maharaj

7.5.   LI Can 李燦 (Beijing Foreign Studies U 北京外國語大學): 不動金剛及其弟子勒布與施食儀軌再宏的年代問題——《新續高僧傳•不動金剛傳》辨析 On the chronology of Akṣobhyavajra, his Disciple Le Bu and the Rite for Feeding the Hungry Ghosts: Revisiting Akṣobhyvajra’s Biography in the Xinxu Gaoseng Zhuan 新續高僧 [New Supplementary Biographies of Eminent Monks]

Session 8 (9:00 am - 9:45am)
Biographies Bridging Beliefs 傳以融信 (Chair: Haiyan HU-VON HINÜBER; Co-Discussants: Kate CROSBY and Susan ANDREWS)

8.1.   Aleksander Uskokov (Yale): When Bhakti Meets the Mahā-vākya: Jīva Gosvāmin and the Devotional Reinterpretation of the Experience of Non-Duality

8.2.   Gérard Colas (CNRS): Belief beyond Affiliation: An example from the Divyasūricarita, a Sanskrit Hagiography of Tamil Saints

8.3.   Max Deeg (Cardiff): Naked Heretics: On the Representation of Jains in Chinese Buddhist Texts

8.4.   Jinhua Chen 陳金華 (UBC): A Vinay lineage and a vinaya master’s life constructed by a Tang bureaucrat, general and calligrapher:  Yan Zhenqing 顏真卿 and his Record for the Precept-platform in the Vinaya-treasure cloister 律藏院 at the Baoying Monastery 寶應寺 in Fuzhou 撫州

DAY 3 – November 9

Session 9 (6:00 am - 7:00 am)
Biographies Built and Rebuilt 聖傳創造與再創 (Chair: ZHANG Xing 張幸; Discussant: LU Yang 陸揚)

9.1.   ZHAO You 趙悠 (PekingU 北大): Becoming Vimalakīrti on His Couch

9.2.   WANG Bangwei 王邦維 (PekingU 北大): 道宣的《玄奘传》 | Daoxuan’s Biography for Xuanzang

9.3.   YANG Jianxiao 楊劍霄 (Nanjing Normal U 南京師範大學): 製造玄奘的面孔——玄奘歷史形象的塑造與法相唯識宗的創立Producing Xuanzang’s Image: The shaping of Xuanzang’s historical image and the establishment of Weishi School

9.4.   Kirill Solonin (Renmin U of China 人大): Tangut version of the biography of the Tripiṭaka Master Kumārajīva

9.5.   QI Guanxiong 齊冠雄 (Florida): The “Guru” of the “Late-Ming Beatniks”: Master Foshi and Reading the Tribute Poems to Him as Hagio-biographies

Session 10 (7:10 am - 7:50 am)

History and His Stories 歷史與誇飾 (Chair: Gérard COLAS; Co-Discussants: Marko GESLANI and Robert SHARF)

10.1.   Ellen Gough (Emory): The Jain Monk Viṣṇukumāra and the History of Rakṣābandhana

10.2.   Lilian Handlin (Independent): A late 11th Century Selfie: King Kyanzittha’s Carte de visite

10.3.   Jack Hawley (Barnard, Columbia): In-Between Biography: Ramacarana’s Sankaradeva and Amar Singh’s Surdas

10.4.   Jacqueline Stone (Princeton): The Tale of Nichiren’s Miraculous Escape from Death and Its Modern Interpreters: History and Hagiography in a Japanese Buddhist Tradition 

Session 11 (8:00 am - 8:35 am)

Women Biographized 聖傳女 (Chair: Lilian HANDLIN; Co-discussants: Robert SHARF and Robert BROWN)

11.1.  Eugene Wang 汪悅進 (Harvard): The Woman Who Sees Buddha Coming

11.2.  Naman Ahuja (Jawaharlal Nehru U): Abductions of damsels: Narratives and Identities

11.3.  Alexandra Kaloyanides (UNC Charlotte): The Saintliness of Being Smart: Female Pali Masters in Burma’s Last Kingdom

11.4.  James Benn (McMaster): Princess Miaoshan the Self-immolator

Session 12 (8:40 am - 9:15 am)

Defense and Debate: Biography as Sectarian and Polemical Devices 傳以護法、傳以諍法 (Chair: Jack HAWLEY; Discussant: Max DEEG)

12.1.  Shanshan (Alice) Zhao 趙珊珊 (McMaster): Protection of the Dharma in Daoxuan’s Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks

12.2.  Aleksandra (Sasha) Restifo (Hebrew University of Jerusalem): Genre as a Polemical Device: An Alternative Biography of Banārasīdāsa (1586-1643)

12.3.  Gregory Schopen (UCLA): The Monk Mūlaphalguna and the Nuns: Biography as Criticism

9:15 am - 9:30 am    Closing remarks


Kind regards,
Carol Lee