Dana: Reciprocity and Patronage in Buddhism explores the concept of dana in Buddhism as a primarily rational and ethical phenomenon and examines its superimposing, mythic, and cultic dimensions. Scholars who have contributed to this volume have attempted to place dana in the context of contemporary religious traditions in relation to various sects and traditions of Buddhism, re-examining established hypotheses and challenging extreme opinions that are prone to exaggeration. It elucidates evolution, transition, and maturity of the process of dana in different phases of Buddhism. The Buddha introduced the practice of dana to sustain his monastic community. Subsequently its character transformed with the division of Buddhism into different sects and traditions. Some of the papers specifically deal with ideological differences and changes in nature of reciprocity, patronage, and possessions.
Anand Singh is Associate Professor and Dean of School of Buddhist Studies and Civilization, Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida, India. He has authored Buddhism at Sarnath (2014), Pracheen Bhartiya Dharma (2010), and Tourism in Ancient India (2005). He has published over twenty-five research papers and articles in various international and national journals. He has visited many countries like China, 'Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka for invited lectures and conferences.
This Volume On dana would not have been possible without genius and scholarly contribution of scholars who took immense pain to give their papers. The book is structured in such a way that it has covered nearly all dimensions on dana in Buddhism. I am grateful that some of the most imminent scholars from India and abroad have contributed their papers in this book. The book is edited with the objective to explore and analyse the various dimensions of dana in Buddhism through an integral approach to include a vast corpus of resources comprising both literary and archaeological ones. The book encompasses previous works on dana, especially in Buddhism, given the fact that studies on dana have not been given due attention in the past because scholars working on Buddhism prioritize their work on studies of monasteries, sects and philosophical tenets. Sometimes it has even been argued that dana cannot be studied as a distinct phenomenon because its various threads are virtually tied to monastic and philosophical studies. In fact, the precise way in which the various domains of dana are placed encourage us to explore various kinds of norms and traditions that dana tradition has in Buddhism. The papers included in the book present more concise and up-to-date information on reciprocity and patronages in different Buddhist institutions, focussing on various traditions and practices that have emerged since the origin of Buddhism till its downfall in the Indian subcontinent.
The chapters are concerned with the study of dana tradition in Buddhism with a special focus on the Indian subcontinent and trace the evolution and maturity of its different rules and practices. They cover conventional tradition as well as modern ethical approaches to learn the various forms as well as the historical development of dana in Buddhism. The term dana is used here as a generic reference, as it is traditionally used in Buddhism. The practice of giving is universally identified as one of the most basic human virtues, a quality that explores the core of one's humanity and one's capacity for self- transcendence. In the teaching of the Buddha, too, the practice of dana earns a place of eminence, one which put it as being in a sense the foundation and seed of spiritual attainment. The character and nature of dana changed when settled monasticism developed at the expense of the process of dana, with the earliest form of monasticization of Buddhism that was not sedentary.
When the Buddha renounced home to become a wanderer, an overwhelming transformation occurred in his life. When he became the Buddha, he laid the foundation of samgha which was based on the dana tradition. The nature of dana changed from time to time from door-to-door personal begging, to patronages and grants by kings and merchants. Due to such large grants, the Mahavihara tradition took organizational shape in the Gupta age when the constellation of monasteries came under one single umbrella in Nalanda. It introduced new values in monastic life as a prelude to the transformation of the conventional character of monasteries, changing the orientation of Buddhist learning from 'study for faith' to 'study for knowledge'. Some of the chapters in this volume examine such traditions in Nalanda and Vikramsila Mahavihara.
I wish to express my sincere gratitude to all who have contributed their valuable papers in this book. Professor Uma Chakravarti has contributed a paper on my request, I am truly thankful to her for such a kind gesture. I must express my sincere thanks to Professor S.Z.H. Jafri and Professor Prashant Srivastava who have helped me in many ways to publish this book. Professor Padmasiri de Silva not only contributed a paper but also advised me on some of the topics; I would like to express my gratitude to him. Professor Siddharth Singh is always generous to me with all academic help; I thank him for his support. Dr K.K. Mandal, Dr Gurmet Dorjey, and Dr R.P.K. Singh have advised me on a number of issues and I would like to thank them as well. I would also like to thank the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi, which has granted permission to use the photograph that has been used on the jacket of the book.
Finally, I must express sincere thanks to my mother, brothers, and colleagues in the university for their immense support.
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