The entrance to the Department of History’s office in Sidney Smith Hall

Lecture in the Arts, Histories, Literatures, and Religions of Burma: Mahosadha’s Cunning and the Cretan Labyrinth

Start Date and Time:

Friday, November 23, 2018, 4:00PM

End Date and Time:

Friday, November 23, 2018, 6:00PM


Dr. Lilian Handlin (Harvard University)

One of the Buddha Gotama’s numerous epithets was opamma kusalo muni – sage skilled in parables, exemplified in his life as Mahosadha.  The remains of an early second millennium Burmese kingdom, named after its ceremonial center, Pagan, preserve several visual narratives of the story. They incorporate a labyrinth image to represent the setting where medicine curing human ailments was dispensed, and riddles and judicial problems were resolved – antecedent of the Bodhimanda – site of Gotama’s Awakening.  Sometime in the late 11th century an unknown artisan, guided by a learned though anonymous Buddhist monk, selected the labyrinth image to reference his society’s conception of the human predicament. That monk’s vastly better known Christian counterparts, a millennium earlier and in another part of the world, chose likewise. The lecture speculates on the reasons and significance of the monk’s choice in the Pagan context.


  • Centre for South Asian Studies

Contact Information

Dasha Kuznetsova

Centre for South Asian Studies


208N-North house, 1 Devonshire Place view full map




Alumni and Friends, Community, Faculty, Graduate Students, Undergraduate Students

Mahosadha's Cunning and the Cretan Labyrinth