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

By Reginald A. Ray | Go to book overview

model of the particular shape of the early community--and to identify it with normative Buddhism.

Weber's notion of charisma is substantialistic at least partly because it is also one-sidedly externalistic. Perhaps because he has the model of Western Christianity in mind, Weber tends to see charisma as residing exclusively in an exterior situation: in the Buddha or in certain early masters or in the external form of the early community. Weber seems to neglect the fact that, at least in Buddhism, the charisma or spiritual power of the Buddha is ultimately not external to the ordinary human being. In fact, it is potentially available to everyone, and it is seen as the task of each Buddhist to develop that inner charisma. To the extent to which the inner charisma is developed, it will be manifested as outer charisma. Moreover, it is the ultimate purpose of the renunciant life in Buddhism to develop that inner charisma (wisdom) together with its outer expression (compassion). It is precisely this that makes possible an ongoing cult of saints in Buddhist history.

Because Weber does not see the inner as well as the outer expression of charisma in the tradition, he tends to identify the charismatic element of Buddhism with its founder and with its early form of organization. When the finally interior and readily available nature of charisma is appreciated, one will see that "genuine Buddhism" cannot be identified exclusively with any particular form or situation. At the same time, obviously some forms and situations are more conducive to the development of charisma than others, but to say this is very different from attempting to identify a particular lifestyle as invariably genuine and to reject others as invariably ingenuine. A study of Buddhist history would seem to indicate that, in the case of the settled monastery, this kind of Buddhism, like any other, must be judged according to whether, in application, it does or does not lead, in the standard Buddhist formulation, "to the abatement of passion, aggression, and delusion." The rejection of the validity of the two-tiered model of Buddhism and of its antithesis in the Weberian critique invites the question of what model of Buddhism may be more appropriate to the actual history of the tradition, a question to be addressed in the conclusion to this work.


Notes
1.
Those few scholars who have seen forest renunciation as a significant factor in earliest Buddhism have tended to prefer the first alternative, that town-and-village renunciation formed no part of the original teaching of the Buddha. See, e.g., Nakamura 1987c, 58-59.
2.
The Nikāya Buddhist texts that depict the Buddha preaching to large crowds, having the ears of regional potentates, and accepting donations for large monasteries appear to reflect the situation of Indian Buddhism at some historical remove from the time of the Buddha. In any case, as mentioned in Chapter 2, it cannot simply be assumed that these images reflect the time period of the Buddha, or even the generations immediately following his death.
3.
Well established in the time of the Buddha ( Thapar 1975, 123).
4.
These two concerns were, of course, deeply rooted in orthodox tradition since the Vedic period. The sacrificial ritual depended for its efficacy upon both the knowledge and

-423-

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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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