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Imagining a Place for BuddhismLiterary Culture and Religious Community in Tamil-Speaking South India$
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Anne E. Monius

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195139990

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195139992.001.0001

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The Maṇimēkalai's Buddhist Community Envisioned

The Maṇimēkalai's Buddhist Community Envisioned

(p.87) 3 The Maṇimēkalai's Buddhist Community Envisioned
Imagining a Place for Buddhism

Anne E. Monius (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The community of Buddhists imagined within the narrative world of the Maṇimēkalai itself is considered – a community whose locus is not the geographical region of Tamil‐speaking southern India in the narrative present, as might be expected, but rather that of all India and the far‐flung reaches of South‐east Asia in the era of the future Buddha's earthly birth. Focusing on the central role played by the begging bowl that never empties if used in service to the poor, it is argued that the bowl itself signals the coming of the future Buddha and embodies those moral values that will enable the Maṇimēkalai's audience to participate in that glorious community to come. Attention to the central locations of the narrative similarly reveals the text's expansive vision of Buddhist community that involves not only the subcontinent but also an island kingdom somewhere in South‐east Asia. Through reference to other Buddhist literature of this early medieval period, it is argued that the Maṇimēkalai participates in larger Asian patterns of redrawing the Buddhist world, relocating its centers away from the cities of northern India associated with Gautama Buddha and toward new foci of Buddhist activity in South India, Sri Lanka, China, and South‐east Asia.

Keywords:   Buddhism, Buddhist community, Buddhist culture, Buddhist history, Buddhist literature, China, literary culture, literary history, Maṇimēkalai, North India, religious communities, religious history, South India, South‐east Asia, Sri Lanka, Tamil

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