Special Issue "Buddhist Monasticism and Lay Society"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 June 2019

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Ann Heirman

Department of Languages and Cultures, Ghent University, Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Buddhist monasticism; vinaya; Buddhist material culture

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

While there has been a great deal of research into the philosophical, historical and philological development of Buddhism, the role of its main driving force – monastics – and the nature of their relationships with lay Buddhists have, until recently, attracted less attention. Of course, some exceptional masters and monastic travellers have been studied in detail, and their role in the development of Buddhism has been extensively discussed. Overall, however, Buddhist monastics in general and the manner in which they have engaged with the rest of society have been much less studied.

This volume focuses on Buddhist monastics’ interactions with lay society, both historically and in the contemporary world. Gregory Schopen has published a number of inspiring articles on this topic (such as those that appear in the anthology Buddhist Nuns, Monks, and Other Worldly Matters, 2014), while Shayne Clarke’s Family Matters in Indian Buddhist Monasticisms (2013), Hao Chunwen’s work on Dunhuang, and an intriguing volume on Buddhism and law, edited by Rebecca French and Mark Nathan (2014), are also noteworthy. Much remains to be said, however, particularly on monastics’ and religious lay people’s attempts to establish significant political, social and cultural roles for themselves within wider society. Steven Vanderputten has addressed this issue in his work on European female monasticism (Dark Age Nunneries, 2018), which focuses on Roman Catholic communities’ attempts to preserve or even expand their influence by shaping the attitudes and behaviour of the laity, sometimes against the expectations and wishes of secular and indeed religious authorities. This volume aims to do much the same with respect to Buddhist monastics’ efforts to gain favour among both the common people and the elite. It includes contributions on Buddhist communities and individual actors who have engaged with lay society throughout history, as well as comparative essays that frame questions of active engagement across a number of regional settings or with reference to other religious traditions.

Prof. Ann Heirman
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charges (APCs) of 550 CHF (Swiss Francs) per published paper are partially funded by institutions through Knowledge Unlatched for a limited number of papers per year. Please contact the editorial office before submission to check whether KU waivers, or discounts are still available. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Buddhist monasticism
  • Buddhist monastics
  • Buddhist agency
  • Buddhist laity

Published Papers (1 paper)

View options order results:
result details:
Displaying articles 1-1
Export citation of selected articles as:


Open AccessArticle Corporate Bodies in Early South Asian Buddhism: Some Relics and Their Sponsors According to Epigraphy
Religions 2019, 10(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010004
Received: 8 November 2018 / Revised: 10 December 2018 / Accepted: 12 December 2018 / Published: 22 December 2018
PDF Full-text (343 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Some of the earliest South Asian Buddhist historical records pertain to the enshrinement of relics, some of which were linked to the Buddha and others associated with prominent monastic teachers and their pupils. Who were the people primarily responsible for these enshrinements? How [...] Read more.
Some of the earliest South Asian Buddhist historical records pertain to the enshrinement of relics, some of which were linked to the Buddha and others associated with prominent monastic teachers and their pupils. Who were the people primarily responsible for these enshrinements? How did the social status of these people represent Buddhism as a burgeoning institution? This paper utilizes early Prakrit inscriptions from India and Sri Lanka to reconsider who was interested in enshrining these relics and what, if any, connection they made have had with each other. Traditional accounts of reliquary enshrinement suggest that king Aśoka began the enterprise of setting up the Buddha’s corporeal body for worship but his own inscriptions cast doubt as to the importance he may have placed in the construction of stūpa-s and the widespread distribution of relics. Instead, as evidenced in epigraphy, inclusive corporations of individuals may have instigated, or, at the very least, became the torchbearers for, reliquary enshrinement as a salvific enterprise. Such corporations comprised of monastics as well as non-monastics and seemed to increasingly become more managerial over time. Eventually, culminating at places like Sanchi, the enshrinement of the corporeal remains of regionally famous monks partially supplanted the corporeal remains of the Buddha. Those interested in funding this new endeavor were corporations of relatives, monastic brethren, and others who were likely friends and immediate acquaintances. In the end, the social and corporate collectivity of early Buddhism may have outshined some textual monastic ideals of social isolation as it pertained to the planning, carrying out, and physical enshrinement of corporeal remains for worship, thus evoking an inclusive sentiment with the monastic institution rather than disassociation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhist Monasticism and Lay Society)

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

The Influence of Japanese Monasticism on Taiwanese Buddhist Education during the Japanese Colonial Period (1895-1945)

Abstract: This paper analyses the Japanese influence upon Taiwanese Buddhist communities during the Colonial Period. I will discuss the interplay between monasticism, education, and politics by examining the process of institutionalization of monastics and Buddhist educational programs in Taiwan between 1895 and 1945. According to the historical development, this paper is divided into five sections: 1) the Sōtō School, 2) the Rinzai School, 3) the Pure Land School, 4) Taiwanese nuns, and 5) Taiwanese monks studied in Japan. Based on the strong Japanese sectarian tradition, different sects had disparate strategies for Taiwan. The Sōtō School came first, engaged in precept ceremonies, and started up a well-run Buddhist college. The Myōshinji-ha of the Rinzai School took Kaiyuansi in Tainan as the main headquarter in southern Taiwan to teach Buddhist classes as well as holding monumental precept-conferral ceremonies. As for the Pure Land School, they came slightly later but eventually established 37 branches across Taiwan, implementing social-educational programs actively. Finally, the nuns and monks who went abroad to study Buddhism in Japan became full-grown and took important roles in advancing Buddhist education in Taiwan. All of these demonstrate the profound Japanese influence upon Taiwanese Buddhis education and monastic culture.

Religions EISSN 2077-1444 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert Logo copyright Steve Bridenbaugh/UUA
Back to Top