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A wide-ranging exploration of Buddhism and family in Asia—from biological families to families created in monasteries.
The Buddha left his home and family and enjoined his followers to go forth and “become homeless.” With a traditionally celibate clergy, Asian Buddhism is often regarded as a world-renouncing religion inimical to family life. This edited volume counters this view, showing how Asian Buddhists in a wide range of historical and geographical circumstances relate as kin to their biological families and to the religious families they join. Using contemporary and historical case studies as well as textual examples, contributors explore how Asian Buddhists invoke family ties in the intentional communities they create and use them to establish religious authority and guard religious privilege. The language of family and lineage emerges as central to a variety of South and East Asian Buddhist contexts. With an interdisciplinary, Pan-Asian approach, Family in Buddhism challenges received wisdom in religious studies and offers new ways to think about family and society.
Liz Wilson is Professor of Comparative Religion at Miami University in Ohio. She is the editor of The Living and the Dead: Social Dimensions of Death in South Asian Religions, also published by SUNY Press, and the author of Charming Cadavers: Horrific Figurations of the Feminine in Indian Buddhist Hagiographic Literature.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Family and the Construction of Religious Communities Liz Wilson
Part I. Historical Families, Imagined Families
2. Serving the Emperor by Serving the Buddha: Imperial Buddhist Monks and Nuns and Abbots, Abbesses, and Adoptees in Early Modern Japan Gina Cogan
3. The Tantric Family Romance: Sex and the Construction of Social Identity in Tantric Buddhist Ritual David Gray
4. Bone and Heart Sons: Biological and Imagined Kin in the Creation of Family Lineage in Tibetan Buddhism Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa
5. Families Matter: Ambiguous Attitudes toward Child Ordination in Contemporary Sri Lanka Jeffrey Samuels
Part II. Parents and Children
6. The Passion of Mulian’s Mother: Narrative Blood and Maternal Sacrifices in Chinese Buddhism Alan Cole
7. Māyā’s Disappearing Act: Motherhood in Early Buddhist Literature Vanessa R. Sasson
8. Mother as Character Coach: Maternal Agency in the Birth of Sīvali Liz Wilson
Part III. Wives and Husbands
9. Yasodharā in the Buddhist Imagination: Three Portraits Spanning the Centuries Ranjini Obeyesekere
10. Evangelizing the Happily Married Man through Low Talk: On Sexual and Scatological Language in the Buddhist Tale of Nanda Amy Paris Langenberg
11. Runaway Brides: Tensions Surrounding Marital Expectations in the Avadānaśataka
12. The Priesthood as a Family Trade: Reconsidering Monastic Marriage in Premodern Japan Lori Meeks