Document Type



This paper will attempt to unearth some of the historical roots of the earth-touching gesture by considering eight different textual accounts of it from the Buddhist traditions of the early centuries CE. Maria Spagnoli has recently argued that the gesture stems from Greek antecedents in oath-making that were transferred to ancient India, perhaps through Gandhara. While this may indeed be so, more remains to be said about possible Indian roots of the gesture. To that end, this paper will explore resonances the gesture has with material in several important Vedic tropes. It will also consider the problem of early Buddhist aniconism, and how the gesture may have played a role in opening up the Buddha’s form to iconic representation.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.