The Social Body

Vesna A. Wallace

in The Inner Kalacakratantra

Published in print September 2001 | ISBN: 9780195122114
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834808 | DOI:
The Social Body

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The two sections of this chapter discuss the individual in relation to society and the individual as society. The Kālacakratantra's views of the individual's place in society and of the individual as society are closely interrelated and provide a sociological framework for the traditional interpretation of the Kālacakratantra's history and for its eschatology and soteriology. The Kālacakra tradition's interpretation of social relations and its sharp criticism of caste divisions and social bias have multiple goals and practical applications, some of which are unique to the Kālacakra tradition and some of which are characteristic of all Indian Buddhist systems. For the Kālacakra tradition, the individual is not merely a member of the vajra (indestructible or indivisible)‐family or the society but is the vajra‐family and the society itself, and is the microcosmic manifestation of the social and religious bodies of the Buddha in both their phenomenal and ultimate aspects. The Kālacakra tradition interprets the individual as the embodiment of its society in various ways, and while doing so, utilizes a conventional classification and characterization of the social classes of India at that time and reinterprets them in the light of its broader theory of the nature and composition of the individual.

Keywords: caste; Indian Buddhism; Kālacakra tradition; Kālacakratantra; social bias; social class; social relations; society and the individual; society; vajra‐family

Chapter.  16757 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Buddhism

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