“What Here Is the Merit, May That Be for My Parents”

Reiko Ohnuma

in Ties That Bind

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199915651
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950058 | DOI:
“What Here Is the Merit, May That Be for My Parents”

Show Summary Details


This chapter turns away from the discourse on motherhood examined in the rest of the book to look at the relationship between motherhood and Indian Buddhism as it actually existed “on the ground.” It draws on the work of Gregory Schopen and Shayne Clarke to show that Buddhist monks and nuns in India—in spite of their renunciation of the world—continued to experience a variety of familial entanglements, with parents and children alike; likewise, nuns who were mothers often continued to act as mothers, and the Saṃgha went out of its way to accommodate motherhood within the monastery. The chapter tries to make sense of this contradictory data, in part by drawing on contemporary monastic biographies from around the world. The chapter also draws on modern Buddhist material to explore the possibility that mothering itself might be interpreted as a form of spiritual cultivation fully compatible with Buddhism’s goals.

Keywords: Buddhist monasticism; Saṃgha; monks; nuns; motherhood; Gregory Schopen; Shayne Clarke

Chapter.  10563 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.