Associate Professor NISHIMURA Naoko

Affiliations :

The inherited ‘self’

Whenever I move data from my old smartphone to a new one, I wonder about the similarities between this simple operation and metempsychosis, or transmigration (rinne tenshō).
Are your current and tomorrow ‘selves’ one and the same? What supports your individuality and ensures the continuity of you as a person from day to day?
The ancient Hindus spoke of Ātman, or one’s inner self. Ātman designates the core, the innermost essence of a person, which undergoes metempsychosis. Allegedly, death of the flesh did not affect it: Ātman would enter the developing foetus and thus come back into the material world in a new body. The doctrine of transmigration based on the concept of Ātman remains one of the axioms in various Indic religions. The concept and its implications have been widely discussed since around 8 B.C. For thinkers involved in religious debates centuries ago, the main issue was possible deliverance from the cycle of death and rebirth. How does one break the chain of reincarnations and attain the final emancipation? Later these questions would lead to the concept of Buddhist enlightenment.
We live in the era of marvellous technological innovations, such as cloning or AI development. Should your clone be considered a separate person? New values to match new technologies can be discovered by retracing ancient Indic debates.

  • Research, History
  • Books, papers, etc.
  • Courses
    Indological Studies (General Lecture); Indological Studies (Advanced Lecture); Indological Studies (Advanced Seminar); Pali
    Personal History
    Born Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture
    BA, Faculty of Education, Miyagi University of Education
    PhD, Graduate School of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University

    Research Associate, Graduate School of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University
    Part-time Lecturer, Tohoku University, Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University, Tohoku Gakuin University
    Ph.D. (Literature)
    Indological Studies; Vedic literature, language, and rituals
    Research Subject
    History of Vedic literature; Vedic rituals and their transformations; myths and rites; life in ancient India based on livestock rearing and dairy processing; interrelations between fetus development, the doctrine of transmigration and the family system; influences on early Buddhist formation
    Vedic literature; Vedic ritual; Old Indo-Aryan language; ancient India
    The Association for Indology and Study of Religion; The Japanese Association of Indian and Buddhist Studies; The Nippon Buddhist Research Association; Association for the Study of the History of Indian Thought; Association of Buddhist Philosophy
  • Books
    『放牧と敷き草刈り-Yajurveda-Saṁhitā冒頭のmantra集成とそのbrāhmaṇaの研究』東北大学出版会 2006年
    『GAV-古インド・アーリヤ語文献における牛-』大島智靖,西村直子,後藤敏文(共著),総合地球環境学研究所インダス・プロジェクト 2011年
    Academic Papers
    「prajā́kāma-とputrákāma-」『印度学仏教学研究』67, 2019
    「ヴェーダ文献に辿る『祭主の人生』」『論集』43, 137-159. 2017
    “The Development of the New- and Full-Moon Sacrifice and the Yajurveda Schools: mantras, their brāhmaṇas, and the offerings” Vedic Śākhās: past, present, future: Proceedings of the Fifth International Vedic Workshop, Bucharest, 2011. Harvard Oriental Series, Opera Minora 9, 227-250. Cambridge: Harvard University, 2016
    “úlba- and jarā́yu-: Foetal appendage in Veda” Journal of Indological Studies 24-25, 169-186 2013-2014
    「ヴェーダ文献における胎児の発生と輪廻説」『論集』36, 69-93. 2009 [2010]
    “The mantra g(h)oṣád asi in the Yajurveda” Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft 63, 109-119. 2003 [2009]
    2007 Award of the Association for Indology and Study of Religion
    2009 The 51st JAIBS Prize, the Japanese Association of Indian and Buddhist Studies