[INDOLOGY] publication announcement: Family Matters in Indian Buddhist Monasticisms

Shayne Clarke clarsha at mcmaster.ca
Fri Jan 17 15:25:26 UTC 2014

Dear list members,

I am pleased to announce the recent release of the following new book (with apologies for cross-posting).

Family Matters in Indian Buddhist Monasticisms
Shayne Clarke
December 2013
Cloth - Price: $52.00
ISBN: 978-0-8248-3647-4
Prepublication reviews are available from the UH Press website.

Abstract from the UH Press website:

"Scholarly and popular consensus has painted a picture of Indian Buddhist monasticism in which monks and nuns severed all ties with their families when they left home for the religious life. In this view, monks and nuns remained celibate, and those who faltered in their “vows” of monastic celibacy were immediately and irrevocably expelled from the Buddhist Order. This romanticized image is based largely on the ascetic rhetoric of texts such as the Rhinoceros Horn Sutra. Through a study of Indian Buddhist law codes (vinaya), Shayne Clarke dehorns the rhinoceros, revealing that in their own legal narratives, far from renouncing familial ties, Indian Buddhist writers take for granted the fact that monks and nuns would remain in contact with their families.

The vision of the monastic life that emerges from Clarke's close reading of monastic law codes challenges some of our most basic scholarly notions of what it meant to be a Buddhist monk or nun in India around the turn of the Common Era. Not only do we see thick narratives depicting monks and nuns continuing to interact and associate with their families, but some are described as leaving home for the religious life with their children, and some as married monastic couples. Clarke argues that renunciation with or as a family is tightly woven into the very fabric of Indian Buddhist renunciation and monasticisms. 

Surveying the still largely uncharted terrain of Indian Buddhist monastic law codes preserved in Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese, Clarke provides a comprehensive, pan-Indian picture of Buddhist monastic attitudes toward family. Whereas scholars have often assumed that monastic Buddhism must be anti-familial, he demonstrates that these assumptions were clearly not shared by the authors/redactors of Indian Buddhist monastic law codes. In challenging us to reconsider some of our most cherished assumptions concerning Indian Buddhist monasticisms, he provides a basis to rethink later forms of Buddhist monasticism such as those found in Central Asia, Kaśmīr, Nepal, and Tibet not in terms of corruption and decline but of continuity and development of a monastic or renunciant ideal that we have yet to understand fully."

I include below a detailed table of contents.

Chapter One. The Rhinoceros in the Room: Monks and Nuns and Their Families 1
1. Indian Buddhist Monasticisms 2
2. Conflicting Visions of the Ideal Monk 10
3. Indian Buddhist Monastic Law Codes 18
4. The Family 21
5. A Preview of the Inquiry 27
6. Reading Indian Buddhist Monastic Law Codes 29
7. A Note on the Scope of the Present Study 36

Chapter Two. Family Matters 37
1. Family Ties Set in Stone 39
2. From Home to Homelessness 45
3. Close Shaves with Monkish Assumptions 56
4. The Family That Eats Together 58
5. The Family That Stays Together 62
6. Like Father, Like Son 63
7. Incidental Incidents and Pugnacious Parents 68
8. Families on Different Paths 72
9. Conclusions 74

Chapter Three. Former Wives from Former Lives 78
1. Monastic Education Concerning Sex with One’s Wife 80
2. Monks Arranging a Marriage for Their Children 87
3. Procedures for Formal Marital Dissolution 92
4. Relations between Married Monastics 96
5. A Monastic Family: Udāyin, Guptā, and Their Son, Kumāra-Kāśyapa 99
6. Mahākāśyapa and His Wife: Ascetic Values in Indian Buddhist Monasticisms 106
7. Married Monastics beyond India 115
8. Conclusions 118

Chapter Four. Nuns Who Become Pregnant 120
1. Mothers Becoming Nuns 121
2. Nursing Nuns 124
3. Monastic Motherhood 129
4. Nuns Becoming Mothers 134
5. Child Care and Nannying Nuns 144
6. Conclusions 146

Chapter Five. Reconsidering Renunciation: Family-Friendly Monasticisms 150
1. A View of the Evidence 150
2. Family-Friendly Monasticisms 152
3. Family-Friendly Monasticisms in a Competitive Religious Marketplace 155
4. A Scholarly Misperception 162
5. Comparative Monasticisms 163
6. On the Utility of Vinaya Texts for the Study of Indian Buddhist Monasticisms 165

Notes 171
Works Consulted 229
Index of Texts 263
Index of Authors/Subjects 267

A detailed preview is available on Amazon: 

Shayne Clarke


Associate Professor
Department of Religious Studies
McMaster University
University Hall, Room 104
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario
L8S 4K1
Phone: 905 525 9140, ext. 23389
Fax: 905 525 8161

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