Once Upon A Future Time

Studies In A Buddhist Prophecy Of Decline

Jan Nattier

Fremont, CA: Asian Humanities Press, 1991.

Winner of the Gustave O. Arlt Award in Religious Studies for 1993, Once Upon a Future Time is an in-depth study of Buddhist theories of the decline and disappearance of Buddhism, and the implications of this idea for the understanding of time and history in Buddhist consciousness. Nattier’s work challenges previous assumptions on this topic, usually approached from and colored by the perspective of Chinese and Japanese ideas concerning the age of the “latter Dharma” (Chin. mo-fa, Jpn. mappō).

The work centers on a critical study of the “Kaushambi Story,” a Buddhist prophecy of decline, in its Tibetan, Central Asian, and Chinese variants.

Jan Nattier explores the origins, permutations, and implications of Buddhism’s conception of its own inevitable impermanence. In a display of linguistic virtuosity and analytical brilliance, she charts the evolution of a complex set of themes from the beginnings of Buddhism in India, through its subsequent development there and in Central Asia, and on to East Asia…Readers will be stunned by Nattier’s radical re-evaluation of the terms and concepts involved.

John McRae

Jan NATTIER did graduate work in Buddhism and Inner Asian Studies at Indiana University and received her Ph.D. from Harvard University.