Dr. Ronald M. Davidson
Professor of Religious Studies
o: Donnarumma Hall Rm 344
B.A., M.A., Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Current Research Interests
Davidson's long term projects include completing a book entitled Secrecy and Revelation in Indian Tantric Buddhism, which concerns the origins and development of religious strategies of secrecy, including secret signs and rituals, and the controlled revelation of such secret matters. The development of secrecy in Buddhism is a peculiar event, as earlier Buddhism had prided itself on being open and transparent, but all that changed in the mid-seventh century for a variety of reasons.
He is concurrently working on another book titled Imperial Buddhas, Tantric Origins: The Emperor Arising from the Buddha's Uṣṇīṣa. Closely related to the secrecy project, Imperial Buddhas addresses the earliest form of Indian tantric Buddhism, which mythically emerges from the Buddha's Uṣṇīṣa, a physical attribute that identifies his sacred status and royal authority.
Both projects demonstrate the simultaneous construction upon and shift away from the cultus and ideology of dhāraṇīs (mantra-like coded phrases) in Mahāyāna Buddhism. To determine the differences between dhāraṇi use and true tantric Buddhism, Professor Davidson has begun publishing a series of articles exploring the meaning and function of the dhāraṇī phrases.
Beyond these research interests, he is editing and translating the Guhyasiddhi of Padmavajra, a ninth-century work on forms of tantric practice, and has pieces written toward a volume on the hagiographies and poems of enlightenment focusing on the Buddhist siddha Virūpa.
- AN 310: Asian Studies Seminar (Div)
- RS 10: Intro to Religious Studies
- RS 101: ER: Asian Religions
- RS 288: Buddhism
- RS 289: Tantrism
- RS 388: Buddhist Spirituality