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Social Dimensions of Early Buddhism

Social Dimensions of Early Buddhism

Specifications

Item Code: IDC907

by Uma Chakravarti

Hardcover (Edition: 2008)

Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
ISBN 9788121507493

Language: English
Size: 9.0" X 6.0"
Pages: 251
Price: $27.50   Shipping Free
Viewed times since 19th Mar, 2014

Description

From the Jacket

This book examines the relationship of Buddhism to its locus, the expanding agrarian economy of the Ganga valley during the period 600-300 BC. It outlines the contours of the major social and economic groups that were the dramatic personae in this dynamic process, especially the gahapati, whose entrepreneurial role in the economy has not received the attention it deserves. The work explores the emergence of sharp differentiation between those in control of the means of production, who dominated the agrarian scene, and those marginalized groups whose labour was essential to the expanding economy but who remained vulnerable, being excluded from both economic and social power. It also examines the changing political environment and the gradual collapse of the gana-sanghas in the face of the expanding monarchical formations of the Ganga valley.

Buddhism's complex response to this changing economic, social and political context is the central concern of this book. It argues that Buddhism responded in a dialectical manner to the economy, society and power, conceptualizing in a more humane, if not 'radical', way the direction in which a changing society could re-order social and political relations.

Dr. Uma Chakravarti teaches History at Miranda House, University of Delhi. She held a research fellowship at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi between 1990-94. She has published several articles in the field of social history particularly on caste, labour and gender. Among her forthcoming publications is a book titled Gender, Class and Nation: The Life and Times of Pandita Ramabai.

CONTENTS

Abbreviationsix
Glossaryxi
Acknowledgementsxiii
IIntroduction1
IIThe Political, Economic, Social, and Religious Environment at the Time of Buddha7
SECTION I: THE POLITICAL BACKGROUND OF BUDDHISM Monarchies, gana-sanghas and state formation – Khattiya clans and the gana-sanghas
SECTION II: ECONOMY AND SOCIETY AT THE TIME OF BUDDHA
Expansion of agriculture – The second urbanization – Craft production and trade – The pattern of landholding – Emergence of a stratified society – Occupational groups and the process of tribal assimilation – The importance of kinship ties – Women in the Buddhist literature
SECTION III: THE RELIGIOUS MILIEU
Philosophical speculation in the sixth century B.C. – Renunciation: the samana tradition – Renouncers and householders – Samanas and brahmanas – Brahmana as a normative term – Other sects at the time of the Buddha – Buddhism and other sects – The sangha – The bhikkhus and the laity – Dana versus yanna – The laity's influence on the sangha – The new society and the phenomenon of renunciation
IIIThe Gahapati65
Changing connotation of the term gahapati – The domains of power, religion and economy – Khattiya, brahmana and gahapati – The gahapati as an element of the king's sovereignty – The gahapati as controller of property – The gahapati as tax payer – The gahapati as associated with agriculture – The brahmana-gahapati – Gahapati, setthi, and setthi-gahapati – Gahapati as employer of labour – Gahapati as a status term – The gahapati's association with wealth – The gahapatis as extenders of popular support to Buddhism – The gahapati's special relationship with the sangha – Gahapati and gamani – Gahapati: from householder to agriculturist – The social organization of the gana-sanghas – Landholding in the gana-sanghas – Tension within the gana-sanghas – Two types of sanghas – Some implications of clan ownership of land – Clan ownership of land, khattiyas and the gana-sanghas – The gahapati, the family, agriculture and the private control of land
IVSocial Stratification as Reflected in the Buddhist Texts94
The problem – Buddhism and caste – Two schemes of categorization in the Buddhist texts – Terms of categorization – High and low strata in Buddhist texts – Regional dimension of stratification – The relationship of kula, kamma, and sippa – Empirical relevance of vanna, jati, and kula – The Buddhist view of stratification: the sangha – Stratification outside the sangha – Principles of stratification based on kula, kamma and sippa – evidence of stratification from Ceylon – The importance of the gahapati in the Buddhist view of stratification
V.The Social Background of the Early Buddhists122
The problem – The method – The sangha – Social origins of important bhikkhus – Important bhikkhus of khattiya origin – The laity – The brahmana component of the laity – Important gahapati supporters of the Buddha – Other prominent supporters of the Buddha – Khattiya, brahmana, and gahapati: key figures in the Buddhist texts – Wealthy supporters of Buddhism – The importance of kinship ties in the extension of support to Buddhism – Analysis of the social composition of the early Buddhists.
VI.The King in Early Buddhism150
General ideas on kingship – The origin of kingship in the Buddhist genesis myth – Seven symbols of sovereignty – Despotic kingship at the time of the Buddha – Legitimate exercise of power – Arbitrary exercise of power – Normative kingship: the cakkavatti dhammiko dhammaraja – The creation of just social order – The king and the sangha
VII.Conclusion: Early Buddhism in a Historical Perspective177
Appendices
A. Select List of Terms Depicting Various Strata in Early Buddhist Literature182
B.List of Categories appearing in Early Brahmi Inscriptions191
C. The Social Background of the Bhikkhus and Upasakas198
Bibliography221
Index231
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