Cetanabheda and Cinderella: Multiple Rebirths, Bilingual Sermons, and Popular Narratives in SE Asia
Talk is via Zoom. Registration required. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. Register here.
The Cetanābhedā, an eighteenth-century Pali-vernacular bilingual text or “bitext” for public sermons, aims to reconcile local Southeast Asian notions of plural “minds” or “souls” with the normative Buddhist model of rebirth. The resulting doctrine holds that our multiple minds can be scattered across samsara after death and thereby be mixed together with those of other living beings, generating much of the physical, social, and psychological diversity more commonly attributed to karma. This talk traces the Cetanābhedā through Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and Yunnan, demonstrating how its bitextual format allowed for the dissemination of new ideas and the transformation of popular narratives, including a version of Cinderella.
Postdoctoral Fellow of The HCBSS
Lecturer, Department of Religious Studies, Stanford University
Trent Walker specializes in Southeast Asian Buddhism, including ritual, manuscript, and translation cultures in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. Recent publications include articles on Cambodian Dharma songs, Thai literary history, and translation practices in southern Vietnam. He is working on his first book, Classical Reading, Vernacular Writing: A Bitextual History of Mainland Southeast Asian Letters, 1450–1850, which argues that a distinct mode of translation was the core intellectual and literary activity in early modern Theravada Buddhist cultures.