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On the Question of “Discipline” (Vinaya) and Nuns in Theravāda Buddhism

Department of Religion, Augustana College, Rock Island, IL 61201, USA
Religions 2019, 10(2), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020098
Received: 20 September 2018 / Revised: 10 December 2018 / Accepted: 9 January 2019 / Published: 4 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Women in Buddhism)
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Abstract

This article centers on the relationship of rules (nīti) to the monastic form of life of contemporary Buddhist nuns in Sri Lanka. A genealogy of scholarship focusing on the rules of Buddhist monks and nuns has led scholars to affirm a clear-cut distinction between nuns who have the higher ordination (bhikkhunῑs) and those who do not have it. However, that distinction is not self-evident, because bhikkhunῑs and other nuns lead lives that do not foreground a juridical notion of rules. The lives of nuns focus on disciplinary practices of self-restraint within a tradition of debate about their recent higher ordinations. Whether or not they are bhikkhunῑs, nuns today refer to rules in ways that are different from that which dominant Vinaya scholarship assumes. This article proposes that it is misleading to differentiate Buddhist nuns based on an enumeration of their rules and argues that nuns’ attitudes to rules say more about attempts to authorize claims to power in current debates about their ordination than about their disciplinary practice as a communal form of life. View Full-Text
Keywords: Vinaya; Buddhism; Theravāda; Buddhist monasticism; Buddhist nuns; monastic discipline; rules; Giorgio Agamben; bhikkhunῑs; Ten Precept Mothers; higher ordination; Sri Lanka Vinaya; Buddhism; Theravāda; Buddhist monasticism; Buddhist nuns; monastic discipline; rules; Giorgio Agamben; bhikkhunῑs; Ten Precept Mothers; higher ordination; Sri Lanka
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Salgado, N.S. On the Question of “Discipline” (Vinaya) and Nuns in Theravāda Buddhism. Religions 2019, 10, 98.

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