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Ties That BindMaternal Imagery and Discourse in Indian Buddhism$
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Reiko Ohnuma

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199915651

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199915651.001.0001

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“What Here Is the Merit, May That Be for My Parents”

“What Here Is the Merit, May That Be for My Parents”

Motherhood on the Ground

Chapter:
(p.180) 8 “What Here Is the Merit, May That Be for My Parents”
Source:
Ties That Bind
Author(s):

Reiko Ohnuma

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199915651.003.0009

This chapter turns away from the discourse on motherhood examined in the rest of the book to look at the relationship between motherhood and Indian Buddhism as it actually existed “on the ground.” It draws on the work of Gregory Schopen and Shayne Clarke to show that Buddhist monks and nuns in India—in spite of their renunciation of the world—continued to experience a variety of familial entanglements, with parents and children alike; likewise, nuns who were mothers often continued to act as mothers, and the Saṃgha went out of its way to accommodate motherhood within the monastery. The chapter tries to make sense of this contradictory data, in part by drawing on contemporary monastic biographies from around the world. The chapter also draws on modern Buddhist material to explore the possibility that mothering itself might be interpreted as a form of spiritual cultivation fully compatible with Buddhism’s goals.

Keywords:   Buddhist monasticism, Saṃgha, monks, nuns, motherhood, Gregory Schopen, Shayne Clarke

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