Lotus Sutra Project







Holy References

The two keywords in the “holy references” category are Lotus Sutra and Ganges. As the name suggests, the key words in this category both refer to things that are considered holy in Buddhism: the Lotus Sutra text and the Ganges river.

An interesting part of the Lotus Sutra is that, in the first chapter, it references itself many times, 14 times to be exact. Not only that, but the definition of what the Lotus Sutra is and how it came about is also described in this chapter. In this way, the self-referencing sets the scene for the rest of the text, advertising the way in which this text is very important and that all of the content in it should be taken very seriously. By referencing itself so many times, the Lotus Sutra brings attention to the text as a whole and draws authority to itself through the content.

The repeated phrase under the key word Ganges is: “…as numerous as the sands of the Ganges river.” As we discuss in the analysis of the number category, using hyperboles involving the magnitude of things is common in this chapter of the Lotus Sutra. However, this repeated phrase was placed in the holy references category because it differs from the other number-related phrases. While those phrases only include numbers on their own, this phrase specifically references the Ganges, a river in India that is considered holy by Buddhists. Reference to the Ganges brings in familiarity for Buddhists who recognize the importance and significance of the river. Accordingly, since the authors of the Lotus Sutra know that the Ganges holds such religious importance, perhaps they intentionally included that hyperbole with the mention of the Ganges in order to draw authority or attention to that image in the text.

Go back and read the other repetition reports.

Read the analysis on repetition in the Lotus Sutra.