Chapter

A Well-Sanitized Shroud: Asceticism and Institutional Values in the Middle Period of Buddhist Monasticism

Gregory Schopen

in Between the Empires

Published in print July 2006 | ISBN: 9780195305326
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199850884 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195305326.003.0013

Series: South Asia Research

A Well-Sanitized Shroud: Asceticism and Institutional Values in the Middle Period of Buddhist Monasticism

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There is no evidence for Buddhist monasticism either before or during the Mauryan period. To judge by his inscriptions and the language used in them, Aśoka himself did not know anything about Buddhist monasteries. However, I. B. Homer talks about the historical “success” of Buddhist preoccupation with lay values and sensibilities; she talks about its survival value, but not about its costs, not about its impact on what it meant to be a Buddhist monk, or the way in which it must have put limits on individual monks' choices and foreclosed some old and previously available options. These too need to be brought into some kind of focus, and they might in the first instance be most easily seen in the ways in which these monastic codes deal with asceticism. Asceticism was dangerously individualistic, prone to excess, culturally powerful, and not easy to predict: precisely the sort of thing that could create problems for an institution.

Keywords: Buddhist monasticism; Mauryan period; Aśoka; Buddhist monasteries; I. B. Homer; Buddhist monk; monastic codes; asceticism

Chapter.  17403 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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