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Going against the grain: A historical and comparative analysis of renunciation and celibacy in Indian Buddhist monasticisms

Hemthep, Phramaha 2014. Going against the grain: A historical and comparative analysis of renunciation and celibacy in Indian Buddhist monasticisms. MPhil Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This research is concerned with the concept of renunciation and celibacy in Buddhist traditions, and how it has evolved with respect to institutional, social and cultural aspects. The goal of this study is to trace the history of renunciation to Indian contexts and show how the practice of celibacy has evolved in Buddhist Monasticisms. I hypothesise that the practice of celibacy is the most significant concept in maintaining Buddhist communal institutions. It can be used as the moral standard and ethical norm for both Buddhist monks and lay people. It has always existed alongside the growth and ramification of Buddhist sects and sectarian schools. Buddhism arose as one of the reformist śramaṇa traditions that opposed the Vedic sacrificial rituals of Brahmanism. The success of the śramaṇa movements made celibacy a central virtue within the broad spectrum of Indian religions, even that of the Brahmaṇism. The value placed on celibacy resulted in Brahmanism having to adapt and reinterpret celibate and renunciatory values. Although the early Mahāyāna shows new forms of religious practice oriented around devotion to bodhisattvas, there is no evidence that Mahāyāna attempted to denigrate the monastic life. However, as Mahāyāna evolved fully, it became strongly critical of the arhat ideal of the Śrāvakayāna. With the development of the new teaching of upāya ‘skill in means’, Mahāyāna undertook the greatest degree of doctrinal adaptation, which may be seen as to deviate considerably from earlier Nikāya Buddhism. Consequently, the bodhisattvas are permitted to violate the monastic vow of celibacy. The root of monasticism was thus threatened. This was connected with the emergence of married monks in Kāśmir followed by Nepal. In Japan, although Buddhism was faced with the same phenomenon, clerical marriage obviously lies in the ideology of mappō, a belief in the decline of the Buddhist doctrine.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BQ Buddhism
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:54

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