Book

Little Buddhas

Edited by Vanessa R. Sasson

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199860265
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979929 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199860265.001.0001

Series: AAR Religion, Culture, and History

Little Buddhas

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Buddhism has often been pronounced an anti-family religion. Narratives of child abandonment seem to overshadow whatever role family relationships might otherwise play. The Vessantara Jātaka is a case in point: here, the future Buddha delivers his own children into the hands of an evil taskmaster in order to pursue his commitment to perfect generosity. In his final life story, the Buddha-to-be abandons his wife and newborn son for a life of homelessness in pursuit of an abstract ideal. With celibacy as a central value, the primary hero repeatedly abandoning his progeny from one lifetime to the next and his fellow monks following suit, not to mention the many stories in the Therīgātha in which women seem to require the death of their children for spiritual advancement to become possible, the conclusion that Buddhism idealizes asceticism at the family’s expense is not difficult to comprehend. But Buddhism is not limited to these narratives or to these interpretations. As the scholarship in this volume attests, Buddhist literature and lived realities exhibit many examples in which children and childhoods play a significant role. Children may be viewed as a hindrance to practice in some contexts, but there are many other narratives, rituals, and lived realities that tell a different story.

Keywords: Buddhism; childhood; children; monasticism; family; asceticism

Book.  560 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Buddhism

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Little Buddhas

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Picturing Buddhism in Little Buddhas

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