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Buddhist Nuns and Gendered PracticeIn Search of the Female Renunciant$
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Nirmala S. Salgado

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199760022

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199760022.001.0001

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Buddhism, Power, and Practice

Buddhism, Power, and Practice

(p.77) 3. Buddhism, Power, and Practice
Buddhist Nuns and Gendered Practice

Nirmala S. Salgado

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyzes “Western” and “non-Western” (Sri Lankan) scholarly narratives of the Eight Revered Conditions (putative rules associated with the first ordination of early bhikkhunīs), which subordinate nuns to monks. Those narratives have contributed to the construction of a renunciant subject through presumptions about liberal notions of empowerment, autonomy, and freedom that have little meaning in the practice of Sri Lankan Buddhist nuns today. Although some scholars have been complicit in producing a patriarchal ideology about the Conditions, nuns, offering various readings of the Conditions (often contesting them), have articulated their practice in relation to the Conditions in ways that have tended to be invisible to recent scholarship. Interviews with Sri Lankan Buddhist nuns foreground the complexities in producing an epistemic (a “knowing” or an “unknowing”) renunciant subject who supposedly seeks to define her identity in terms of contesting or reshaping the Eight Conditions.

Keywords:   Eight Conditions, narrative, subordinate, subject, ideology, Sri Lanka, ordination, bhikkhunī

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