Buddhist Saints in India: A Study in Buddhist Values and Orientations

By Reginald A. Ray | Go to book overview

cerns for correct behavior, for communal organization, and for close and regularized relations with the laity on the part of town-and-village renunciants found clear expression in the vinaya, while the preoccupation of town-and-village renunciation with doctrinal discussion and debate eventually took shape, it may be strongly suspected, in the vocation of texts and scholarship. The foregoing, then, suggests one possible reason for the literal incongruity between the religious type of the Buddha and the type represented by the monk of classical monasticism. These two are so different because they represent two quite distinct, if interconnected, renunciant ideals, the one of the forest, the other of the town and village. 65


Notes
1.
Buddhaghosa, following received tradition, gives the classical definition: "'Forest', according to the vinaya method firstly, is described thus: 'Except the village and its precincts, all is forest'" ( Vsm72 [N., 721; cf. PTSD76, s.v. arañña). Thus, as we shall see, a forest-dwelling saint may live in a variety of places, including mountains, deserts, caves, jungles, and even cremation grounds.
2.
This symbolic meaning of the word has been present from an early time. The Sanskrit term araṇya derives from the Vedic word araṇa (remote) ( PTSD76, s.v. arañña). PTSD comments further that "in the Rig V. araṇya still means remoteness (opp. to amā, 'at home')." SED similarly says that in the Rig Veda, araṇya means "a foreign or distant land" ( SED86, s.v. araṇya) and that vana (forest) can have a similar meaning ( SED917, s. v. vana).
3.
As we shall see, in the texts, the forest refers, on the one hand, literally to the dwelling place and life of extreme renunciation of the typical renunciant in more or less isolated retreat and, on the other, figuratively, to a mental place or attitude in which prevail what one may call the values of the forest, such as inner renunciation, satisfaction with little, and a meditative state of mind. In defining this element of the forest saint, the following pages will specify two countertypes. The first is, not surprisingly, that of the ordinary world and its folk, who are addicted to samsaric values. A second countertype is that of settled monastery, adjuct to town or village, wherein dwell monks or nuns in relative (compared to the forest renunciant) safety and security. As in the case of the forest, both ordinary world and monastery, along with their ways of life, are also used in both literal and figurative ways. Literally, of course, they refer to particular habitations with certain definable characteristics. Figuratively, the ordinary world represents a mental realm or attitude of attachment, whereas the monastery represents a realm or attitude of renunciation, but one that can be seen as partial and imperfect. In this construct, the forest represents the domain of the saint, and the monastery represents a place of greater proximity to the world, understood both literally and figuratively.

As we shall see, this dichotomy between forest and settled monastery can be a useful construct. The identification of the Buddhist saint with a forest location and with forest values works relatively well for much of the Indian Buddhist evidence, particularly that representing formative phases of Buddhism itself and of the Mahāyāna. In this evidence, it helps us to gain some fundamental insights concerning Buddhist saints, their place within Indian Buddhism, and their own assessment of their particular way of being Buddhist. At the same time, however, although this model is useful in clarifying certain patterns in

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Buddhist Saints in India: A Study in Buddhist Values and Orientations
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Contents xi
  • Conventions xiii
  • Abbreviations xv
  • Introduction 3
  • Notes 10
  • 1 - The Buddhist Saints and the Two-Tiered Model of Buddhism 15
  • Notes 36
  • 2 - Buddha Śākyamuni as a Saint 44
  • Notes 68
  • 3 - Saints of the Theragāthā and Therīgāthā 79
  • Notes 99
  • 4 - Some Orthodox Saints in Buddhism 105
  • Conclusion 136
  • Notes 141
  • 5 - Saints Criticized and Condemned 151
  • Notes 173
  • 6 - Cults of Arhants 179
  • Notes 205
  • 7 - The Solitary Saint, the Pratyekabuddha 213
  • Notes 241
  • 8 - Bodhisattva Saints of the Forest in Mahāyāna Sūtras 251
  • Appendix: the Minor Rāṣṭrapālaparipṛcchā Sūtra on Forest Bhikṣus 275
  • Appendix: the Minor Rāṣṭrapālaparipṛcchā Sūtra on Forest Bhikṣus 280
  • 9 - Ascetic Traditions of Buddhist Saints 293
  • Notes 318
  • 10 - The Buddhist Saints and the Stūpa 324
  • Notes 352
  • 11 - The Cult of Saints and Buddhist Doctrines of Absence and Presence 358
  • Notes 386
  • 12 - The Buddhist Saints and the Process of Monasticization 396
  • Notes 423
  • Conclusion: Toward a Threefold Model of Buddhism 433
  • Notes 447
  • Bibliography 448
  • Index 469
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