Policing the Monastery

Robert DeCaroli

in Haunting the Buddha

Published in print October 2004 | ISBN: 9780195168389
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835133 | DOI:
Policing the Monastery

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This chapter examines the relationship between monks and nuns and the supernatural beings with whom they shared their monastic residences. The Buddhist monastic codes (Vinaya) contain descriptions of legal cases that demonstrate the importance spirit‐deities held for the members of the monastic community. More specifically, they inform us about the ways in which the Buddhist community performed rites in honor of the popular deities whose images are found decorating the monasteries. The chapter goes on to examine the literary accounts of the popular deities providing services to the community in return for this devotion. In particular, these deities were believed to be skilled at monitoring the monastic community for any infractions against their strict codes of behavior and, as such, functioned to police the inappropriate behavior of wayward monks and nuns.

Keywords: Vinaya; Monsteries; Popular Deities; Monastic Codes; Buddhist

Chapter.  9925 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Buddhism

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