The Maṇimēkalai's Buddhist Community Envisioned

Anne E. Monius

in Imagining a Place for Buddhism

Published in print January 2002 | ISBN: 9780195139990
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834501 | DOI:
 The Maṇimēkalai's Buddhist Community Envisioned

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The community of Buddhists imagined within the narrative world of the Maṇimēkalai itself is considered – a community whose locus is not the geographical region of Tamil‐speaking southern India in the narrative present, as might be expected, but rather that of all India and the far‐flung reaches of South‐east Asia in the era of the future Buddha's earthly birth. Focusing on the central role played by the begging bowl that never empties if used in service to the poor, it is argued that the bowl itself signals the coming of the future Buddha and embodies those moral values that will enable the Maṇimēkalai's audience to participate in that glorious community to come. Attention to the central locations of the narrative similarly reveals the text's expansive vision of Buddhist community that involves not only the subcontinent but also an island kingdom somewhere in South‐east Asia. Through reference to other Buddhist literature of this early medieval period, it is argued that the Maṇimēkalai participates in larger Asian patterns of redrawing the Buddhist world, relocating its centers away from the cities of northern India associated with Gautama Buddha and toward new foci of Buddhist activity in South India, Sri Lanka, China, and South‐east Asia.

Keywords: Buddhism; Buddhist community; Buddhist culture; Buddhist history; Buddhist literature; China; literary culture; literary history; Maṇimēkalai; North India; religious communities; religious history; South India; South‐east Asia; Sri Lanka; Tamil

Chapter.  17543 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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