Studies On Women in Buddhism (C. 6th Century B.C. to C. 1300 Century A.D.)

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Item Code: NAY684
Author: Sayamtara Jash
Publisher: Pratibha Prakashan, Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2017
ISBN: 9788177023947
Pages: 294
Other Details 9.00 X 6.00 inch
Weight 530 gm
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Book Description

About the Book
The book entitled Studies on Women in Buddhism is based on extensive primary source materials and garnished by significant theories and observations of eminent scholars of the east and the west. It offers an analytical as well as critical window to the deeper meaning of socio-religious values and doctrinal reflections of Buddhism in the Buddhist texts highlighting the contents of the Bhikshuni Pratimoksha composed by the Upasikas and the Bhikshunis before the Christian era.

The text, needless to mention, is possibly the earliest composition exclusively credited to the women folk. The publication incorporates some thought provoking issues like Position and Status of Women in India in the sixth century B.C., the Buddhist Community-Buddhist Pratimoksha Sutra-Origin and Nature of the Buddhist Safigha Doctrinal and metaphysical aspects and changing scenario of the Vinaya-vastu in the Buddhist Monastic Order.

The book delves deep into the regional flavor and focus, generating a sense of reality blended with facts and practices-thus posing a fresh paradigm relating to contemporary society and religion.

To quote Professor S.K. Pathak (Foreword) she is 'a promising scholar of our days attempted to explore a rarely traversed path in Buddhistic researches,' from historical and sociological perspectives.

About the Author
SAYAMTARA JASH (b.1981) holds B.A. (Honours) and M.A. Degrees in Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology and completed her 2010 in Studies of Women in Buddhism. As a Post-Doctoral Fellow she presently focuses on her research on the Monastic Organization highlighting activities of the Ramakrishna Order.

In addition to her specialization in Buddhism, her research interests include early epigraphical and iconographical reflection on religion in Southeast Asia. Further she has also published over fifteen articles/research papers in Journals of national and international repute. Sayamtara an upcoming scholar participated in the International Buddhist conference at the Buddhagravaka Bhiksu University, Anuradhapur, Srilanka, in 17-19 February, 2012; 15th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists in Paris (6-10 July, 2015); attended the Parliament of the World's Religions 2015, Salt Lake city, Utah, USA (October 15-19, 2015); Spent a few weeks (10th Oct.-15th Nov.2015) with the Nuns at Hollywood Santa Barbara and Chiago Vedant Society of Southern California for her research work. WAG8 held in Kyoto, Japan (28th August -2nd September, 2016).

Articulate, well researched and extremely grounded with her subject of specialization, she is presently engaged with study of early Indian Buddhist, Jaina and Hindu art and iconography.

She is currently associated with the Visva Bharati, Calcutta and Presidency universities as Guest teaching faculty. Dr. Sayamtara is also a regular contributor and member of various professional and academic organizations like the World Archaeological Congress,. Art History Congress, Indian History Congress, Numismatic Society of India (Banaras), Paschimvanga Itihasa Samsad (Kolkata), etc.

A critical study regarding Women Studies as a developing Social Science in the Post World War II period has been ventured by Dr. Sayamtara Jash in a new light. The present volume 'Studies on Women in Buddhism' (c.6th B.C. to c. 1300 A. D.) as reflected in the Buddhist Bhiksuni Pratimoksha appears to be a holistic approach with its historical growth. It claims uniqueness for searching the rights of the women with yellow-robes among the Buddhist communities in the peninsular India for about two millenniums years excluding their continuance in the 'Land of Snow' (present day Tibet Autonomous Region of China more than half a century.)

Obviously the materials are based on the Tibetan rendering of (Mulasarvastivada) Bhiksuni Pratimoksha Sutra (Tibetan Dge slong ma'i so sor thap pa'i mdo.) The Tibetan text (Peking edn folio nos. Bkali bgyur Hdul ba 1 b: 1 - 25 a 5) had been rendered into bod skad (bhota bhasa in Sanskrit) Tibetan from rgya gar skad (Bharata bhasa) by Jinamitra of Kashmir and Klu'I rgyal mtshan or Jhu Chen Lo tsa ba. The Tibetan erudite according to order of the Tibetan ruler Dpal the btsan pa of the Btsan Monarchy in the early ninth century translated the Sanskrit text that refers to Ral pa can in the Btsan Monarchy royal title. It presupposes that Tibetan Buddhist communities might have felt requirements of the Bhiksuni Safigha (Tibetan: ani gompa) by then for their social development. That stream has not yet discontinued.

The Women studies in recent years have attracted an ever-increasing group of serious, interested scholars who have brought to their inquiries a wonderful variety of new pursuits and methodologies, invigorating the discipline as never before. The present work Studies on Women in Buddhism (c. B.C. sixth century to thirteenth century A.D.) is an attempt to throw light on the position and status of the Buddhist women- the Upasikas and the Bhikkhunis. For proper understanding of the subject of our investigation it is necessary to expand our methodological tools in the reconstruction of history of gender studies from the present largely text based studies to include the study of the archaeological objects-like art, architecture, coins, inscriptions, etc.

It is to be noted in this context that the term 'status' is defined as 'the position of an individual in relation to another or others', while 'position' is meant one's social standing and a post of employment'. (The Random House Dictionary of the English Language edited Jess Stein, pp.1035, 1283). Under `status', woman as wife, as mother, as daughter, as a maid, friend can be traced out, while under 'position' woman's education, hobbies and plays, freedom to love and live, employment as an ambassador, adviser and guide to the king, and her leading to the life of a poet, a musician, a dancer, a singer and a house wife, etc are dealt with. As the chapter titles and section headings indicate, this study is designed to discover the distinctive perspective of the Buddhist Pratimoksha vis-a-vis Studies on Women in Buddhism. Throughout the following study, we have extensively used G. Roth and Akira Hirakawa's translations of Bhikkshuni Pratimoksha and Manual of Discipline for Buddhist Nuns along with the relevant canonical texts in Pali.

The study of Buddhism witnessed an important landmark during the eighteen-nineteenth century A.D., but it was primarily confined to translations of various textual matter. There are enough collections of Buddhist texts in Tibetan, Chinese and Mongolian translations representing all phases of Buddhism. They remove the vast lacunae which impede the progress of our study with the available Indian source material alone. There are besides precious literary finds in Central Asian Collections of antiquities which help us to recover many a lost clue in interpretation. A large number of Western as well as Indian scholars made an attempt to study Pali, Sanskrit, Tibetan and Chinese for throwing light on the history of Buddhism, and also its contents relating to the socio-religious aspects. I.B. Horner observed that "with the transliteration and translation of the Pali manuscripts, a new and more accurate view of Buddhism has been presented."' Pali and Sanskrit texts belonging to the Sutta and Vinaya category were edited and translated by various scholars in the second half of the nineteenth century A.D.2

But the study of Buddhism becomes intensive and systematic one with the foundation of the Pali Texts Society in 1881. According to T.W. Rhys Davids, the founder of the PTS.

Apart from the textual studies which formed the substratum of all subsequent researches, the main emphasis of earlier writers of Buddhism was on clarifying various traditions. With this kind of critical analysis it was possible to make a distinction between the mythical and historical elements contained in the legendary data in regard to the life and achievements of the Buddha. Moreover, the study also throws light on distinguishing a primitive Buddhism from the doctrines supposed to have been grossly altered at the later period. The growth of different Buddhist sects and their doctrines, the rise of Mahayana with its increasing emphasis on the extreme form of philosophical idealism, and a corresponding mythological development to this speculative approach were also brought to light. Attempts were also made to prove that early Buddhism was by its very nature opposed to Brahmanism and that its followers formed a congregation, the object of which was to realize a perfect life into which members were admitted only after the performance of certain vows and rites and from which they could not return without becoming renegades. The historical process through which the geographical expansion of Buddhism throughout the Indian subcontinent and beyond was possible was also understood to a considerable extent.

The history of Buddhism and its varied historical and social contents demonstrated with the decipherment of the Mokan inscriptions. Different categories of Agokan inscriptions, i.e., rock edict, pillar edict, votive stapa edict, etc, which are of great importance to the study of Buddhism, were dealt with by Burnouf, Kern, Cunningham, Senart, Buhler and Hultzsch, D.C. Sircar, B.M.Barua and others. On the basis of the archaeological evidences James Burgess in 1833 published a book entitled- The Buddhist Caves and Inscriptions.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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