The Vedic Gandharva and Rebirth Theory (A Rare Book)

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Preface

Professor Alex Wayman, retired Professor of the Columbia University, New York, is a well-known scholar of Tibetan Buddhism and a specialist in the field of Buddhist Tantra Literature. He published, in collaboration with F. D. Lessing, his first basic work Analysis of the Sriivakabhumi Manuscript in 1961, and it was followed by other works like Fundamentals of the Buddhist Tantra in 1968, The Buddhist Tantras - Light on Indo- Tibetan Esoterism 1973, and Yoga of the Guhyasamiijatantra 1977. He has also worked on the other aspects of Buddhism and translated many of the Tibetan works on which he has a remarkable mastery.

Professor Wayman was kind enough to deliver Dr. Prabha Joshi Memorial Lecture at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute on "Vedic Gandharva and Rebirth Theory" on Friday, January 10, 1997, which is now being published in a book form.

Professor Wayman has meticulously collected all the available information on the Gandharvas, a subject which is rather controversial and obscure, and presented it in a novel form of a series of Introductions which isolate the various strands of this piece of complex myth. This is followed by a historical survey of what- ever has been written on the subject of the Gandharva mythology, from the Indo-Iranian period to the time of the Satapatha-brahmana and early Buddhism. Professor Wayman has stated the various aspects of the theme of the Gandharvas in an elaborate manner, and, instead of following a linear approach, he has admirably discussed its different strands. This has helped him to steer clear of a single interpretation of the whole question and to clearly mark its different aspects. He has also suggested partial solutions wherever possible. He comes to the conclusion that the Gandharva or the Gandharvas do not represent a single concept but denote a number of closely related phenomena - human, astronomical, and mythical. Some of them can be explained clearly while others remain as yet obscure. Altogether, we have to be thankful to Professor Wayman for his novel presentation of the subject.

 

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