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Tantric Traditions in Transmission and Translation$
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David B. Gray and Ryan Richard Overbey

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199763689

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199763689.001.0001

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Vicissitudes of Text and Rite in the Great Peahen Queen of Spells

Vicissitudes of Text and Rite in the Great Peahen Queen of Spells

(p.257) 6. Vicissitudes of Text and Rite in the Great Peahen Queen of Spells
Tantric Traditions in Transmission and Translation

Ryan Richard Overbey

Oxford University Press

The Great Peahen Queen of Spells (Mahāmāyūrīvidyārājñī) is a mercurial corpus of Buddhist narrative, incantation, and ritual practiced in South, Central, and East Asia from the early centuries CE to the present day. This chapter uses the six Chinese translations, dating from the fifth to the eighth centuries, to analyze the varieties of change in the grimoire. In the span of a few short centuries one finds a merging of recensions, a dramatic expansion in the pantheon, the incorporation of local Chinese spells, and increasingly intricate elaboration of ritual manuals. Close study of the many versions of the Great Peahen allows us to identify a gradual “esotericization” of its rituals, and to witness processes of textual development usually lost to history.

Keywords:   Mahāmāyūrīvidyārājñī, Great Peahen, pantheon, ritual, ritual manual, tantra

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