Buddhist Monasticism

Ritual and Identity in Buddhist Monasticism
Over its long history, Buddhism has been practiced by monks and nuns who leave home to uphold the rigorous rules and vows of a religious community. In these groups, the combination of practices established by the Buddha and innovative rituals has led to highly diverse forms of monastic identity. In this course we will begin by examining the emergence of Buddhist monasticism as a counter-cultural movement in ancient India. Drawing from translated primary sources and secondary scholarship, we will then focus on monastic traditions across Asia. In studying this material, we will discuss the various ways ritual shapes identity, the politics of monasticism, and the eventual popularization of Buddhism for a lay audience in Asia and beyond.

John Pickens holds a Ph.D. degree in the South and Southeast Asian Studies department at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2022. His doctoral research centered on preliminary practices and the rise of the lama in twelfth-century Tibetan Buddhist traditions./
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RELI 1078

All Sections in Winter 2025

Winter 2025