Buddhist Monks and Monasteries of India: Their History and Their Contribution to Indian Culture

By Sukumar Dutt | Go to book overview
Save to active project

3
From Wandering to Settled Life

'BEHOLD ye, how the clouds congregate in the sky and torrents of rain oppress the earth with their fury': thus a Seer (Ṛṣi) of the Vedic age describes what is a familiar climatic phenomenon of India, the annual cloud-burst of monsoon.1

It ushers in the rainy season over the country. 'The random breezes die, at great altitude a haze covers the sky, and upon tensely expectant people and dessicated plants, the monsoon breaks.'2

The countryside gets flooded; the rivers swell and pulsate to the beat of the rain; shrunk streams become unfordable; cross-country tracks are washed away and effaced. This seasonal rainfall occurs round the middle of June, but in some years it is nearly a month late in starting. The season lasts roughly for a period of three months.

Those who were wanderers by their calling had to reckon with the monsoon conditions which made inevitable an annual break in their wanderings. So it became customary for all sects of the wanderers' community to suspend wandering and seek shelter for the season, and the custom was already very old--it had even gained from antiquity the character of a ceremonial observance in the community--when Prince Gotama forsook the world and joined it.

The rule that a wanderer must suspend wandering and remain in retreat during the season of rains occurs among the canonical regulations of different sects: the Buddhists call it Vassa, the Jainas Pajjusaṇa, and the Brāhmaṇical Sannyāsins are enjoined to be 'of fixed residence' (Dhruvaśīla) during the time.3 This 'rain-retreat' seems to have been a universal customary observance among wanderers of all sects.

The first step in the individuation of the Bhikkhu-saṅgha, differentiating it in character from other sects in the community, was taken when the general custom was specialized by the Buddhists. The Jaina and Brāhmaṇical wanderers had no regulations prescribing 'living together' during rain-retreat. In the Brāhmaṇical texts, it is

____________________
1
Atharva-veda, IV, 153.
2
Taken from Hart New India's Rivers ( Bombay. Orient Longmans, 1956), p. 8.
3
The texts are: Āruṇeyopaniṣad, 3--Varṣāsu dhruvaśīlo' aṣṭou mārsānekākī yatiś- caret dvāveva caret (see The Samnyāsa Upanishads, p. 13); Kaṭharudropaniṣad, 1 commentary)--caturo māasān vārṣikān grāme nagare vāpi vaset (see Ibid. p. 18); Nārada-parivrājakopaniṣad 3--Ekavāsa avāso . . . ekadṛṣtir' alolupaḥ: eka eva carennityaḿ varṣsyekatra saḿvaset (see Ibid, p. 66) and passim.

-53-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Buddhist Monks and Monasteries of India: Their History and Their Contribution to Indian Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 402

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?