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In Indian folk tradition, nāgas serve as fierce guardians of the waters and of the abundance that lies beneath the earth. Besides, nāgas play a positive role in Buddhist accounts. A number of jātaka stories record the nāgas’ generosity toward the Bodhisattva while others show their gratitude for receiving religious instruction. This story of Bimbisāra and the two nāgas is a good example of how the Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya re-organizes the story based on the Indian folk tradition in which both king and nāga take important roles. Regarding the relation between Buddhism and nāga beliefs, establishing a relation to nāga belief was the primary concern of Indian religions. In spite of all the patronage of Aśoka and the 346 ● 불교학연구 제19호 두 나가(Nāga)와 빔비사라왕 설화 연구 ● 347 glorious accounts of the popularity of Buddhism in Kashmir, the fact remains that Buddhism had to face a strong opposition in the country from the established belief in nāga-worship. Nāga beliefs were quite common in India when Buddhism made its appearance and that is the reason why the legend of nāgas and their conversion by the Buddha occur occasionally in the Buddhist texts. Bimbisāra’s character is described negatively in this story, in contrast with other texts, where from his first dāna to the Buddha until the time of his death, a period of thirty-seven years, he does all in his power to help the new religion. In the beginning of the story, Bimbisra does not respect the Buddha. The negative description of Bimbisāra is designed to produce conflict in the story. Furthermore, this negative description of the king maximizes the dramatic conflict, Although the conflict is between the two nāgas and Bimbisāra, it is noteworthy that the reason for their conflict is the Buddha. The two ‘orderers of existence’ are presumed to be equal under the Buddha. It becomes clear that the Buddha intervenes in this traditional relationship, yet he still keeps his sense of distance. In this story, the conflict between Bimbisāra and the two nāga kings is noteworthy because as nāgas are guardians of water and of abundance, and Bimbisāra represents the highest worldly power both parties are dependent upon each other. Another interesting point in this story is that it shows how Buddhism as a new religious movement, established its relation to the folk tradition. The Buddha asserts his superiority over other gods and kingship and while the older deities and kingship continue to function under the Buddha’s superiority both the nāgas and Bimbisāra ask for the Buddha’s teaching, and, at the same time, they are in trouble. To adapt the story as a Buddhist narrative, the Mūlasarvāstivādins intervene at almost every stage of the story. Without directly intervening between them, in other words, and so retaining the sense of withdrawal, the Buddha behaves as a supreme guarantor of the cosmic order by resolving the conflict between the nāgas and Bimbisāra. This clearly shows how Buddhism wants to be accepted in the Indian folk tradition.
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- Publisher :Korean Association of Buddhist Studies
- Publisher(Ko) :불교학연구회
- Journal Title :Korea Journal of Buddhist Studies
- Journal Title(Ko) :불교학연구
- Volume : 19
- No :0
- Pages :323~347