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Christopher Chapple is Professor of Theological Studies and Director of Asian and Pacific Studies at Loyola Marymount University where he teaches religions of India and comparative theology. He has published several books, including Karma and Creativity; Nonviolence to Animals, Earth, and Self in Asian Traditions; a co-translation of Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, and several edited collections of essays, including Ecological Prospects: Scientific, Aesthetic, and Religious Perspectives.

 

Abstract of paper given at Buddhism and Ecology conference:
Animals in the Early Sramanic Tradition

From early archaeological and textual materials, it is evident that animals were held in high regard in India. The Indus valley civilization adorned and apparently revered selected animal species. In the later sramanic traditions, especially within Buddhism and Jainism, animals play an important cosmological role. In the Jataka tales, a primary teaching tool of the Buddha, animal fables appear with great frequency. In early Jainism (and continuing within present day India), protection of animals is a central feature of religious observances. In this paper, the totem-like depictions of animals in the Indus valley civilization will be discussed as a possible context for the importance accorded to animals in later sramanic traditions. Select Jataka tales will be examined, as well as the place of animals in Buddhism and Jaina cosmology and ethics.

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