Postgraduate students

Phra Akbordin Rattana BA DipGrad (Buddhist Studies) PGDipArts, MA

On the Devotion to the Buddha in Paramanuchit’s Mārabandha Episode of the Paṭhamasambodhi

The Paṭhamasambodhi is an important biography of the Buddha, a living story well-known all over mainland Southeast Asia, and an essential element for Southeast Asian art history. In addition, the Mārabandha episode of the Paṭhamasambodhi is a unique story that receives no mention in the Pāli Canon or in the Pāli biographies of the Buddha. It also contains the few parts of the Paṭhamasambodhi corpus that are concerned with events after the Buddha’s Parinibbāna (the final release from the round of rebirth), and a source for ritual, belief, and devotion of Buddha in many parts of Southeast Asia. Moreover, it received the royal patronage of King Rama III (1788-1851), as the king invited Paramanuchit (1790-1853) to edit the Paṭhamasambodhi. This thesis offers the first English translation of the Mārabandha episode of the Paṭhamasambodhi of Paramanuchit, a senior Buddhist monk and key patriarch in the history of Thai Buddhism during the 19th century. Relying on the Paṭhamasambodhi and other Thai sources, it makes three contributions to the study of Thai Buddhism. Firstly, it provides a translation and an analysis of a text that has been largely overlooked by scholars outside of Thailand, especially in English language scholarship. Secondly, it sheds light on the historical figure of Paramanuchit, an influential and respected Buddhist scholar in Siamese Buddhism, who became the Saṅgharāja in 1851. Thirdly, it argues that Paramanuchit’s decision to include the Mārabandha episode in his redaction of the Paṭhamasambodhi indicates his own concern with a particular dimension of Thai Buddhism—namely, devotion to objects and images of the Buddha.

Supervisors: Dr Elizabeth Guthrie and Associate Professor Ben Schonthal

University of Otago Religious Studies Programme