By Kim Gutschow
They might shave their heads, don easy gowns, and resign materialism and worldly wishes. however the girls looking enlightenment in a Buddhist nunnery excessive within the folds of Himalayan Kashmir perpetually locate themselves topic to the tyrannies of subsistence, subordination, and sexuality. finally, Buddhist monasticism displays the very global it's alleged to resign. Butter and barley turn out to be as severe to monastic lifestyles as advantage and meditation. Kim Gutschow lived for greater than 3 years between those ladies, accumulating their tales, watching their methods, learning their lives. Her publication deals the 1st ethnography of Tibetan Buddhist society from the point of view of its nuns. Gutschow depicts a gender hierarchy the place nuns serve and priests direct, the place priests bless the fields and kitchens whereas nuns toil in them. Monasteries may perhaps maintain old endowments and critical political and social strength, but international flows of capitalism, tourism, and feminism have started to erode the stability of energy among clergymen and nuns. regardless of the hindrances of being thought of impure and inferior, nuns have interaction in daily sorts of resistance to pursue their ascetic and private ambitions. A richly textured photograph of the little recognized tradition of a Buddhist nunnery, the ebook deals relocating narratives of nuns suffering from the Buddhist self-discipline of detachment. Its research of how within which gender and sexuality build ritual and social energy presents useful perception into the connection among girls and faith in South Asia this day. (20040501)
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Additional info for Being a Buddhist Nun: The Struggle for Enlightenment in the Himalayas
The dearth of historical sources in both India and Tibet helped propagate a textual exegesis which emphasized internal literary meanings over social or historical context. The sociological study of Buddhist practices lags far behind. Recent scholarship still privileges textual analysis over the ethnography of ritual practices even while attempting to overcome the classic bias toward texts. 8 Even the scholarship dedicated to practice has omitted ethnographic description of rites in favor of liturgical and literary translations, often devoid of in-depth social or economic context.
The monastic enterprise is based as much on political and social conditions as on individual and collective discipline. What is involved in being Buddhist in Zangskar today? Although Buddhism has been threatened and nearly extinguished in Kashmir, it has produced a flourishing civilization within the remote reaches of this region. Although more than half of the people living in eastern Jammu and Kashmir practice “Tibetan Buddhism,” most are not Tibetan refugees. The villagers in Ladakh and Zangskar have ancestors 24 Being a Buddhist Nun who have been making merit and tilling monastic land for generations.
To unravel the paradox of merit and hierarchy, one must look at Buddhist monasticism from the bottom up and inside out. Wealth is neither necessary nor sufficient for making merit through generosity (dana). If the self and its attachments are given away, generosity need not involve wealth at all. Yet such purity of motivations is difficult to attain. Numerous parables imply that a small gift of pure detachment earns more merit than a large gift without the proper motivation. Yet numerous practices index social or economic capital to the symbolic capital of merit.