Andy Rotman

The Buddha’s life story is generally said to begin at a moment other than his birth as Prince Gautama. Instead, it began many eons ago, during a previous lifetime, when as a learned Brahman, he vowed before the Buddha Dipankara that he, too, would one day become a buddha. This story is one of the most famous in the Buddhist world, immortalized in Buddhist literature and art, especially in sculptures from the first centuries CE from the northwest region of the Indian subcontinent, then known as Gandhara.

In a lecture titled “The Vow that Began the Buddha’s Path to Awakening,” Andy Rotman, Sydenham Clark Parsons Professor in the Department of Religion at Smith College, discusses the reasons that this story was so popular and what it tells us about the Buddha’s biography.

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