Ordination (<i>Pabbajj</i><i>ā</i>) as Going Forth?

Jeffrey Samuels

in Little Buddhas

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199860265
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979929 | DOI:

Series: AAR Religion, Culture, and History

Ordination (Pabbajjā) as Going Forth?

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This chapter examines the processes by which boys living in Sri Lanka become Buddhist novices (sāmaera). Providing a detailed description of a pabbajjā ordination ritual as well as examining the factors that led one participant to become a novice, the author highlights the role that social relationships and affective bonds play in the recruiting and socialization process. Along with challenging the tendency to reduce monastic ordination to a person’s or family’s desire for upward social and economic mobility, the author questions the tendency of interpreting pabbajjā as “going forth” by illustrating how monastic ordination functions as a ritual through which an ordinand’s ties and social bonds become altered and expanded to include multiple communities of lay people and monastics.

Keywords: Sri Lanka; novice; ordination; Theravāda; education; abbot; parents

Chapter.  9415 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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