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Ties That Bind – Maternal Imagery and Discourse in Indian Buddhism - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Ties That Bind: Maternal Imagery and Discourse in Indian Buddhism

Reiko Ohnuma


This book is an exploration of maternal imagery and discourse in premodern South Asian Buddhism, drawing primarily on textual sources preserved in Pali and Sanskrit. It argues that Buddhism in India had a complex and ambivalent relationship with mothers and motherhood—symbolically, affectively, and institutionally. Symbolically, motherhood was a double-edged sword, sometimes extolled as the most appropriate symbol for buddhahood itself, and sometimes denigrated as the most paradigmatic manifestation possible of attachment and suffering. On an affective level, too, motherhood was viewed with th ... More

Keywords: South Asian Buddhism, motherhood, maternal imagery, maternal love, maternal grief, Māyā, Mahāprajāpatī, pregnancy, gestation, breastfeeding

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2012 Print ISBN-13: 9780199915651
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199915651.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Reiko Ohnuma, author
Dartmouth College