Was Tulsidas a misogynist
PAGE vii Table of Contents
ROBERT P. GOLDMAN
One of the great wishes of humanistic scholars is a full and detailed social history of the Indian subcontinent. South Asia is, after all, not only home to around a third of the world's population, but also the source of one of the world's oldest and most enduring civilizations, which has given rise to many of the great religious, philosophical, literary, and artistic traditions. It is also a region that has long been and will continue to be of tremendous interest to scholars in many disciplines including the humanities, social and natural sciences, and professional fields.
That no such social story exists is therefore not due to a lack of interest on the part of the students. Above all, it does not exist because the documents on which it would have to be based are largely unavailable and can only be partially reconstructed. The reasons for this are several and include those such as the loss and deterioration of the documents and objects of material culture, which complicate efforts to acquire a social history of an ancient civilization. An obstacle to developing a broader sense of early South Asian social history, however, is in some ways peculiar to India and the styles of oriental scholars that are traditionally brought about to tolerate it. This is the fact that for ancient and much of medieval times our understanding of the nature of the polity and society, the balance of power between social classes and between the sexes, has largely been derived from the extant texts written by and for an educated and dominant elite group have been created, displaying a remarkably consistent social ideology that has long been used by contemporary scholars,
often uncritical, as derived from actual observation of a largely unchanged society has been accepted. The vision of the social order derived from these texts, the normative texts of Brahmin culture, were not only adopted by scholars at face value, it was made their own by colonial administrators, who in many ways upgraded the texts and enforced them as the basis for the Land settlement, codes of law, and administrative systems from the eighteenth century onwards. Indeed, the ancient period’s only surviving fully assembled deviation from this dominant ideology, which claimed its authority for the implementation of its fundamental social vision - that of an immutable and eternally fixed hierarchical class division - from the Vedas derived, a body of text that predated history itself, were the competing texts of the so-called systems of other faiths, Jainism, Buddhism and Ajivikism. These traditions, however, couple their radical criticism of Brahmanism, together with its metaphysics and its sociological effects, with at least one implicit criticism of society other than that of the monastic order and thus provides us, with a few interesting exceptions, with a rather indirect means of access the early social history of South Asia. Furthermore, these systems were either obliterated or marginalized by the early modern period, and so the power of their social vision, as it was, tended to be more mixed, if not completely blunted, except in a few regions.
In modern times, the British colonial administration and its agents tended, partly under the influence of their rebuilding of Southeast Asia as a region of timelessness, to instill their dominant social and historical engagement with their own selfish vision that served to obscure much of what the Complexity of the social reality they must have faced. Colonial historians, bound as they were, on the one hand by the ideological framework of post-enlightened Europe, including both the pragmatic positivism of British and the romantic idealism of continental Indology, and on the other hand, the pressure an intellectual justification for the imperial Articulating corporations and their efforts to redefine the political and economic structures of India created a series of normative notions of the social life of ancient and modern India, the consequences of which are with us to this day.
The main contributions of the colonial historians' beliefs were that India's political life inevitably tended towards chaos and its social life tended towards the humiliation and abuse of certain segments of society, especially the so-called "untouchables" and women, the latter in general being too condemned such social evils as child marriage, domestic slavery, and the institution that later came to be known as "sati" [widow succession in which the woman had to follow the deceased man's cremation fire to self-immolate]. Enlightened and impartial intervention in the form of British rule was necessary to remedy these evils and prevent their recurrence. At the same time there was a kind of compensation performance
Coming largely from the Romanticism of the "Oriental Renaissance" - this ancient India, and to some extent modern rural India, were examples of a pure, simple, and virtuous stage of human civilization that was somehow subject to degeneration only in modern urban settings. This idea was taken up by representatives of the so-called Hindu Renaissance and developed into a theory of ancient India as a place of social and gender equality, which only blossoms in relatively modern times - under the harmful foreign influences, that is, Islamic and European rule originally as defensive strategies, the structures perceived as the evils of caste and the humiliation of women.
Given this somewhat hopeless historiographical situation, it is no wonder that the undertaking of rebuilding the social history of premodern India has been a difficult subject. However, some progress has recently been made on the matter of rebuilding a somewhat more complex description of Indian society, at least during the British colonial period. A group of social historians calling themselves the Subaltern Group has rallied around Ranajit Guha and, by addressing available documents as a form of discourse analysis, has made some progress in restoring and advocating ideologies, behaviors, and responses by groups that have so far been marginalized by colonial historians. Through such measures as this, we have been able to somewhat revise our understanding of these segments of South Asian society - low-caste groups, tribes, the peasantry, and women - whom until recently had access to the manufacture and dissemination of was lacking of the kind of texts which historians have mainly concerned themselves with.
But even with such contributions, our view of the social history of premodern India has been extremely limited. On the one hand, the techniques of the more recent historians have, with few exceptions, not provided with greatly improved access to the social history and theories of the various subcultures in South Asia over the millennia of their recorded history. Indeed, there are some early Indian texts that can genuinely be considered historiographical, no matter how much historical information we infer or claim to be able to infer from them. Apart from the substance of the inscribed evidence from ancient and medieval India, the vast majority of the enormous body of texts that have survived from pre-colonial India, insofar as we can impose our set of foreign genres on them, largely relate to the areas of religion, philosophy, Science, aesthetics, grammar and so on are limited - that is, the extensive text collections such as sastra ; Nice literature (Sahitya), and of course the massive texts on traditional law, social relationships, and legendary history (dharmasastra, itihasa-purana). These
Texts, even if they continue to be used extensively for what they can tell us about the state of social and power relations in pre-colonial and pre-Islamic India, must be read with extreme caution for these purposes.
First and foremost, almost all of these texts, to a greater or lesser extent, are polemical in some way. At least they articulate the worldview of a dominant, educated elite, almost entirely descended from the Brahmin and Ksatriya classes and those who were able to ally themselves with these old elites or actually oust them. Although seldom understood by the Orientalists and their adherents, these documents define and reinforce a range of views devised by and on political and economic interests by a small but dominant interlocking ruling class of the landlord classes. They are not the views of society as a whole, although, as in any case of domination and submission, the ruled may identify with them and appropriate the ideology of their masters. A particular artifice by the authors of these elite documents had been to strengthen the claims of authority in these texts in an attempt, in most cases, to remove them from the conditioned world of historical reality. In these of their last models were the Vedas, texts that were assured of the Brahmanic tradition apauruseya; produced by no human instinct [like the tables of the Law of Moses! AΩ]. These texts, which form the basis of the traditional schools of Brahmin and Hindu thought and ideology, are therefore explicitly ahistorical, eternal, and in fact pre-existing in the world. Other traditional Brahmanic textual traditions lead their origins to superhuman seers or rsis back who, as the Vedic seers had, at least implicitly, access to equally unconditional texts that give the tradition an aura of infallibility.
These ancestral texts have relatively little to say about the non-elitist segments of Indian society, and what little they say is of a general and normative sort in which the nature and duties of the subordinate elements in the social world are described: the lower classes and women. Members of these groups are often praised and even idealized if they exactly correspond to the subordinate and even subservient roles assigned to them. If they don't, they serve as negative examples through terrible fate and general contempt that is their lot.
While the texts of the political and spiritual elites either ignore the lower social order or define it through their own sophisticated terms and God-willed paradigms, these orders, neither the peasantry, the tribal population, the groups, as outside the limits of the ritual purity of the Brahmanic social order defined, or women, generally lacked access to the means of creating, disseminating and maintaining similar documents. If they had a markedly different worldview than that articulated by the elites, it is not
recorded and obtained for our study. On the other hand, as indicated above, there were in the texts and practices of the so-called dissenters or sramana; monastic religious movements, especially Buddhism and Jainism, the articulation of autonomous and powerful voices, which strongly challenged the Brahmanic view of social coordination, especially as they themselves in the strictly hierarchical and functionalist model of the VarnasramaSystems established its authority from the Vedas and Sanskrit texts as widespread and renowned as the epics, the Bhagavad-Gita et alnd the most important dharmasastras derivative social model.
But while the dissenting traditions challenge and even mock the brahmanic ritual system and its socially interrelated system, a community composed of classes separated by impermeable boundaries and hierarchically ordered by their given tasks and degree of ritual purity, for the most part they are far less interested subjecting the powerfully patriarchal ideology of traditional culture to very penetrating criticism. However, each of them struggled with what, given the traditional Brahmanic ideology about the nature and functions of women, had to present itself as a problem above all in the monastic communities, whose teachings and rhetoric put great emphasis on avoiding family shackles, emotional ones Attachments and, most importantly, sexuality and the sensual pleasures - all of which are associated with women. The problem, then, is constructed in terms of the degree to which women can make the same kind of renunciation and spiritual advancement as men. It is a problem caused by the somewhat reformist tendency of those of different faiths, which of course stems from their attack on brahminic privileges and claims. Yet while Buddhist and Jain thinkers are willing to reject the notion of a hierarchical social order, the power of the patriarchal doctrine of male supremacy in all matters has proven more difficult for them to escape. Indeed, with their obsessive concerns about renunciation, withdrawal from the secular social universe, and avoidance of the sensual life, the texts and sermons of Buddhism and Jainism often weigh down such vicious negative views on women - especially the female anatomy - from the self-gynophobic Make elements seem milder in most Hindu texts.
Indeed, the status of women and its impact on access to spiritual life is one of the most interesting, informative, and neglected areas of study of indigenous Indian culture and society. An examination of the traditional literature, the writings of both colonial rulers and Indian reformers, and the contemporary press and feminist writing in India suggests that an understanding of the traditional attitudes against and
Treatment of women in South Asian society is central to understanding Indian culture in general.
While the recent expansion of the study of women in South Asia has been one of the most important and inspiring undertakings of contemporary scholars working across the region, the value of many of its learned principles has been tainted by an inaccurate understanding of the deep role played by the social construction of gender the formation of Indian social and religious life. However, this shortcoming is not the fault of social scientists and feminist teachings. Researchers in these fields rarely have direct access to the original sources of Indian lore, as few can work independently with the languages - Sanskrit, Pali, the Prakrits, and Apabhramsha - in which they are written. For an understanding of these texts, they had to depend on the translations and academic writing of the philologically oriented Indologists. These latter, however, whether through forgetfulness or outright hostility, have been notoriously uninterested in the social implications of the documents with which they themselves were concerned. Indeed, most Indologists, whether in the East or West, seem to have drunk much of the ideology of Brahmin ahistoricism and, in their published works, are far removed from the contribution of an in-depth analysis of gender and power relations in the social history of India.
Within the last decade or so, however, a new generation of Sanskrit scholars has begun to bring the knowledge and methods of the social sciences - psychology, sociology, anthropology, and studies of women - to the fore to nourish abundantly on the ancient texts in India and the impact of the ideologies they put forward on the cultures and societies of South Asia as they exist today. Interesting work has been done on some of the most deeply influential texts of traditional India, works like that Mahabharata and the Ramayanabut much more needs to be done. In addition, there is a mass of scientific literature for the study of the role of women and attitudes towards sexuality in Indian Buddhism. Most urgently needed, however, are studies of texts and traditions that have either not been adequately dealt with or have been completely ignored. In this last category, virtually all of the plentiful and important mass of texts, in Sanskrit and Prakrit, produced by the various schools of Jainism over the past two and a half millennia must be placed.
Scientific studies of the ancient and fascinating tradition of Jainism are far less than those of Hinduism and Buddhism. Even fewer - indeed nonexistent - are studies that seek to place the teachings and concerns of the individual Jaina sects within the framework of a broad social history of South Asia. This shortcoming may be understandable, but it is serious nonetheless. Because, as I have suggested elsewhere, Jaina texts often present us with ideologies and
practices related to the other indigenous systems, but represented in extreme and even radical formulations. Hence the Jain insistence Ahimsa; or non-injuring to living beings, expresses a general cultural value in a radical form. Also the Jaina formulation of the Pan-Indian theory of the karma and rebirth is explained much more simply than in any tradition of Hinduism or Buddhism, and I would conclude that sheds light on the origin and meaning of these concepts express everything in a verbose form that the more original, older is]. Then the structures of the Jaina, especially Digambara, over the monastic community are much stricter and more restrictive than those which, say, the Buddhist ones Sangha govern, and thus teach us a tremendous amount of the ingrained renunciation and restraint relationships that underlie much of South Asian religious and social consciousness.
In much of the same way, a closer reading of the Jain texts dealing with the issue of spiritual liberation for women provides us with significant insight into the nature and sources of the characteristic view of gender and sexuality in traditional India. A careful study of the fundamental and influential religious, scientific, legal, and literary texts of traditional India provides us with an abundance of material on the deep concern of culture with issues of gender and sexuality and its highly ambivalent attitudes towards women and their bodies. Yet despite a common perception that women, especially when constructed as creatures of the passions, are portrayed as both, less suited as men to the spiritual life and as the most powerful obstacle for men to pursue it, and despite the tendency to self erring on the page about abundance and elaboration, this is one of the most remarkable characteristics of all the traditional Indian literature, which we cannot find anywhere outside of the Jaina texts here translated by Jaini, any systematic effort to get a grip on the question of the intellectual abilities of women that seems to have so troubled religious thinkers. Only in these texts record the long and bitter debate about the question do we find both, we have a concerted attempt on the part of the Digambaras to derive the alleged intellectual inability of women scientifically from a combination of scriptural authority, empirical observation and logical reasoning, and radically opposed to the Svetambara / Yapaniya Defending the position that, regardless of their social and political status compared to that of men, women are as good as men for achieving spiritual liberation. In addition, as is typical of Jain texts, the extensive argumentation of the two sides of this subject provides us with the clearest possible insight into the ways in which educated people view the indigenous culture of India, gender and sexuality, as well as attitudes and fears fueled this culture about biological and anatomical differences between the sexes. In addition, these provide us with
Texts are virtually the only coherent scientific explanation of the issue of sexual orientation found not just in South Asia but throughout the premodern [present and future] world. In other words, these documents are truly unique, and it is not an exaggeration to say that without some knowledge of their contents it is impossible to make a clear sense of the social makeup of gender in traditional as well as modern India.
Let me now turn to the peculiarities of the Jaina texts that Professor Jaini has put before us and to discuss them within the framework of the great indigenous Indian tradition regarding women, gender, sexuality and the respective abilities of the two sexes for the highest degree of spiritual progress achieve how this tradition is to be given by the most important documents of Hinduism and Buddhism. The question of the role and abilities of women in the spiritual life is an ancient one in India. As has already been mentioned many times, women, especially the women of religious thinkers, are portrayed as early as the Upanishads, as in metaphysical debate with their husbands seen the relationship between Xanthippe and Socrates, where a proverbial nagging woman did not dismiss the greatness of the philosopher, in fact, this was precisely what was conducive to his greatness, because how easy it is for a man to conquer his anger if he is not irritated becomes; His size can only be demonstrated by those who can maintain their equanimity even under the greatest challenge. AΩ]. In epic poetry, such women are often referred to as the spiritual companions of their husbands, or the forest sages rsis, shown. In some cases, individual female ascetics are mentioned and on occasion they play independent roles in the epic tales and can even be shown to gain spiritual liberation. In general, however, little systematic attention is given to the intellectual potential of women. First of all, the Vedic and Hindu traditions did not develop the institution of communal monasticism in the early period. Great emphasis is placed on renouncing the world against acting on spiritual practice and meditation, but the central institution for this in the early days was the Ashram, which, in keeping with its characterization as a spiritualized family (gurukula) under the direction of a spiritual father, den guru and his wife, though it might require the celibacy of some or all of its members, was not a monastery in any meaningful sense. It is not until the time of Adisankaracarya, much of the work of which appears to have been intended to counter the influence of Buddhism, that Hinduism appears to have developed into formal and centralized monastic communities. These communities seem to have been closed to women until recently congruent communities of women emerged.
The Theravada Buddhist Attitude Toward the Admission of Women to the Sangha or to the monastic community in early India is known. In the Cullavagga the Buddha is said to have made no mention of the question of admitting women to the Order until his widowed relative (aunt), Mahapajapati Gotami, approached, leading a delegation of women wishing to leave the world and asking permission on their behalf pleaded. The Buddha is said to have refused her request three times. His student
Ananda then accepted her case and defended the women's case before his master. Once again the Buddha refused three times, and in the end only relented with the observation that his teaching, which would otherwise have lasted for a thousand years, would now take half as long with the creation of a nunnery. What is interesting here is the approval by the founder of the order that women are as capable as men of leading a contemplative life and, as is made clear elsewhere in the canon, as capable Nirvana to reach.
The reasons for the Buddha's reluctance to admit women to the Sangha and his prophecy that this concession would be the life of the Buddhist Dharma halved are never really made explicit, but it is very likely that he is expressing an implied cultural prejudice about women's supposedly greater susceptibility to the passions and a partially articulated suspicion that given the traditional build of women as seducers of the male spiritual aspirants, the coexistence of an order of nuns with that of monks would inevitably lead to decline.
The attitude towards women's ability to achieve the greatest spiritual advancement is significantly different in the Mahayana texts. Diana Paul argues that the Mahayana are different Sutras; Mainly envision three positions: (1) that women cannot enter the Buddha-realm, (2) that women can be lower-level bodhisattvas, and (3) that women can become advanced bodhisattvas and upcoming Buddhas. The first of these positions is analogous to the position of the Digambaras, while the third is more or less the same as the Svetambaras. However, as Jaini makes clear in his introduction to this volume (# 43), the theoretical possibility of a female Buddha, offered by some Mahayana sutras, is in practice not supported by the inclusion of a woman in any of the lists of Buddhas. [In contrast, the Svetambaras have a female Thirthankara (Malli) among the 24 in their list.]
It is only among the Jainas that this question is the subject of an ongoing and substantial debate, a debate that, far from ever being resolved, remains anchored in an irreducible sectarian split. Because the great sects of Jainism, the Digambara and the Svetambara, remain deeply divided to this day, not only over the question of the propriety of a woman's acceptance of monastic life, but over a more fundamental question - that of the possibility of a person entering into the state of spiritual liberation or nirvana immediately after living in a female body. The question is not just an intellectual one either. Because the Svetambaras not only believe that women can accept the beggar life as a path to spiritual advancement, they have put this belief into practice. Indeed, today, as in ancient times, Svetambara and Sthanakavasi are nuns (Sadhvis) considerably more numerous than their male colleagues (munis). The Digambaras also have a small number of "nuns" (aryikas and ksullikas)
although, as we will discuss below, they are not accorded the same spiritual status as the munis.
So the question of living from the possibility of a woman’s life of a renunciation, which the Jains believe is the only way to spiritual liberation, is not a purely theoretical one. On the contrary, it is of the utmost importance to the two great communities of Jainism and indeed there are dominant intersecting speeches from at least the second century AD. up to the eighteenth century, the span of the texts that Jaini has collected and translated, up to modern times. This dispute, as we shall see, continues to have considerable ramifications above the surface level of its contents, but of more immediate concern are the specific terms about which the debate turned.
The traditional literature of India, whether Vedic, Hindu, Buddhist, or Jaina, is, as mentioned above, filled with passages denouncing women and their moral, physical and mental abilities. As early as that Rgveda; even there are negative allusions to her being capricious and treacherous. In the Mahabharata, it is shown that a man who falls in love with a woman is barely able to ride his horse. In an often quoted passage from the influential Manava dharmasastra; It is laid down as a basic social law that at no point in her life, from childhood to old age, can a woman be independent of a male guardian, nor deserve autonomy, even in the kitchen. In another famous passage, the great poet-saint of the Hindi-speaking world, Tulsi Das, states that along with donkeys, drums, and people of the lower classes, women sometimes need to be beaten. The number of such passages in the religious and legal literature of traditional India is enormous, and there is no need to treat the matter lengthily here.
What is unique about the Jain debates on the liberation of women is not the attitude they display towards the female gender, but the systematic focus on the issue of gender, its extension to the general debate and, to some extent, its specific rooted in the biophysical nature of the human feminine. This is not to say that other textual traditions do not show and actually promote an almost pathological aversion to those organs and processes which are unique to the female. Because they do. But nowhere else do we find the female reproductive organs cited physiologically as themselves a major reason for the alleged inability of women to attain spiritual liberation.
The arguments put forward by the Digambara authors to support their point of view that there can be no spiritual liberation for women are very diverse and attack the question typical of traditional Indian Sastraic reasoning from a number of directions. As usual, one appeals
both sides of the debate on scriptural authority, logical inference, linguistic interpretation, and direct observation. And much of this reasoning - such as those recorded in some of the texts translated here, dealing with the question of whether the word "woman" in scriptures has the possibility of moksa asserts; for women really means "a man with a woman's sexual feelings" and whether an agreement between the two sects "that a woman, no matter how wicked, cannot fall below the sixth of Jainism's seven hells, logically means that if she has the same trait, she is not in the highest mental state (Nirvana) can rise. - may seem confusing to the reader unfamiliar with the rules of traditional Indian debate.
Some arguments from the Digambara side derive from assuming given that reflects the general misogynistic and patriarchal attitudes of society as a whole. It is argued, for example, that women are not only physically weaker than men, unable to endure the harsh asceticism considered necessary for liberation, but are also intellectually, ethically, and morally inferior. So Shakatayana quotes like his purvapaksa; the arguments that women are extremely fickle and fickle (Chapter II, # 78), that they lack the mental, forensic, and supernatural powers of the advanced male spiritual adept (# 21-25), and that they lack the physical, moral, and spiritual courage of men is lacking (# 85). In several places the general cultural sentiment is put forward that women have less control over their sexual passions than men, as with Jayasena‘s Tatparyavrtti (Chapter IV, # 4-5). Some of the authors, including Shakatayana and Prabhacandra, refer to what is to be viewed as social factors in a patriarchal structured monastic order and surrounding society, rather than natural endowments of gender.Thus we have the arguments, repeated by several authors on both sides of the debate, that the inferiority of women is demonstrated by the fact that nuns have to show consideration even for monks who may possibly be far younger than them and also by the fact that they are subject to sexual harassment and assault by men.
It is noteworthy, in connection with these disputes, that although the Svetambaras persistently argue for the possibility of women entering the beggarly life and attaining nirvana, they rarely categorically refute the misogynistic claims of the Digambaras per se. Although they tend to mitigate these claims, for example, by pointing out famous women in literature and writing who have shown great spiritual or moral courage, or by claiming that men too can share some of the moral deficiencies attributed to women, they seem generally willing to accept the negative characterizations, merely claiming that this does not in and of itself exclude the possibility of moksa for all women.
Interesting, however, is this type of reasoning for those eager
To understand the nature and development of attitudes towards the sexes in traditional cultures and societies, it is as a result of their detailed and elaborate discussion of the biological and psychological aspects of the female sex and sexuality and their development through the concept of the particular types of libido or the sexual orientation (veda), which makes the Jaina texts stand out as unique and of particular importance.
The concept of Veda, the sexual orientation that is not necessarily related to biological gender, seems to be unique to the Jaina texts in traditional India and constitutes the only theoretical logical attempt in that culture, and perhaps any premodern culture, the phenomena of heterosexuality and Explain homosexuality [the elite of today's society is aware of this fact veda and libido not aware of what is shown in the clergy's awkwardness towards transgressions of their own class in matters of celibacy. Every human being, whether female or male, these 2 x 3 types are inherent, only through the self-control of the passions resp. Ripus, the way to celibacy is given. Anyone who is still stuck in a difficult or light (and be it light, as theoretically in the spirit, but not lived out) passion such as lust, anger, avarice, pride, envy, deception or impatience is still one of these 6 types subject to the Veda and the libido. I will deal with more about this later, provided I have a lifetime left, I remember it and / or I am not challenged in any other way. AΩ]. The latter phenomenon in particular is almost ignored in the Sastraic literature associated with Hindu tradition. As is made clear from reading the texts on the spiritual liberation of women, Jaina Denker understood that there are three types of sexual feeling that they consider striveda, pumveda and napumsakaveda named, or the sexual feelings as a rule, belonging to a woman, a man, and a hermaphrodite, one after the other. However, they argued that these feelings do not always correspond to the biological sex of the person who is entertaining them. For example, a person can be biologically and anatomically male (dravyapurusa;) being emotionally or psychologically feminine at the same time (bhavastri). The most advanced formulation of this theory of sexuality independent of biology is given by Meghavijaya (Chapter VI, § 1-8), but it is used by most of the writers - either (for the Digambaras) as part of their demonstration of the impossibility of moksa directed for women or (for the Svetambaras) as part of the reasoning of their opponents. In both cases the question is Digambara's attempt to argue that where Scripture seems to allow spiritual liberation for women, it is in fact using the word "woman" in a secondary sense, using a biological man with the sexual orientation of a woman, that is, a male homosexual. Still, the argument in itself is interesting and sheds much new light on the construction of human sexuality in premodern societies [which was, is, and will be the same. Copulation is still done today in the same 6 different ways listed here. AΩ].
But beyond the complex and learned disputations outlined above, a reading of the Jaina texts by Jaini clearly shows that the Digambaras' main argument against the liberation of women is based on their perception and deep fears about the anatomy of human women in general and their reproductive system Particular is based. As one might expect, a large part of the negative attitude towards the female body in this strictly patriarchal system is centered on the phenomenon of menstruation. Meghavijaya, as a representative of the Digambara position, observes
that "she has an impure body, as evidenced by the flow of menstrual blood each month." He goes on to increase the feeling of disgust, this makes him quote Kundakunda and the Bhartrhari verse quoted above. This type of negative focus or taboo about menstruation has been observed on a large scale in many traditional cultures both in India and elsewhere. The Jain texts, however, take patriarchal fear and phobic portrayals of the female body and its natural process to heights almost unknown elsewhere. Because in addition to their disgust for the actual reproductive organs and processes of women, the Jaina authors have created a completely imaginary female microbiology that, as far as I can tell, is unique in world literature.
According to the unanimous Jain view, certain parts of a woman's body, especially openings and depressions such as the genitals, the space between the breasts, armpits and navel, give rise to large numbers of tiny and subtle living organisms, also known as aparyaptas. These creatures, sometimes seen as expressly arising from menstrual and other body fluids, are, it is argued, destroyed in great numbers by the ordinary activities of the woman whose body is her host, and so inevitably becomes an agent of massive involuntary activity himsa, or injuries to living beings. In addition, it is assumed that the activity of these microscopic creatures in the genitals of women is perceived as a kind of "itching" that can only be relieved by (sexual) intercourse. As a result of this, Digambara authors such as Kundakunda argue that a woman, by reason of her anatomy, is incapable of fully assuming the great vows required by an aspirant for liberation as a result of her inevitable infestation with these aparyaptas she is on on the one hand, continually transgressing the Cardinal Jaina precept of ahimsa or non-violating living beings; and on the other, never free from the sexual desires that block spiritual progress.
Finally, the Digambaras' attitudes towards reproductive physiology of women and alleged deficiencies in morality and self-discipline must be seen as centered on the critical and defining characteristic of their monastic practice: nudity. Because it is the Digambara requirement that a real beggar must forego clothes, which with this dogmatic question of the ability of women for spiritual liberation, most clearly and bitterly separates the two great denominational traditions of Jainism. Both sides agree that there cannot be a question of women adopting nudity for a variety of reasons, ranging from the supposed disgust at the sight of naked (and possibly menstruating) women, to the inevitability of their provocation and living with one constant fear of sexual attack, which in any case would be detrimental to the necessary calm of the mind for the true spiritual path. Further, the Digambaras argue, women are more sensitive to feelings of shame and shyness
indulged as men and they could never overcome enough to hike naked in public.
Hence, for all these reasons, the Digambaras set the nuns' impossibility to go naked, ipso facto denying them any hope of spiritual liberation. For the Digambaras argue that a feeling of shyness indicates a failure to repress all sexual feelings and that wearing clothes is just one way of keeping non-vital possessions, two factors that are absolutely out of step with living one go real waiver. So for the Digambaras, nudity is an absolute requirement for a real beggar. Since women cannot follow this practice, it follows that they cannot be true nuns and thus cannot achieve spiritual liberation immediately after living in a female body.
The Svetambaras, for whom the donning of white robes is both a symbol and an obligation of the monastic life, cannot accept this point of view, and one has often wandered reading these debates feeling that despite the very real hostility towards them Women expressed by both parties to the debate and the amount of effort and the time they invested, it carries a powerful and only occasionally clear message. In other words, one senses that in their violent attacks on the minds, souls and bodies of women, the Digambaras are also, perhaps primarily, trying to undermine the spiritual honesty of their Svetambara competitors while in their somewhat jealous defense of possibility of moksa for women, the Svetambara and Yapaniya monks actually defend their own claim to the term "Muni". Just as the Digambaras regard their own ksullikas and aryikas only as particularly pious laymen, so they are inclined to treat Svetambara monks themselves as pious, albeit presumptuous, laypeople, sometimes referring to them as contemptuous jainabhasas, or pseudo-Jainas. For, given the true sentiments expressed in Jain literature and in the other Indian ancestral texts towards women, it is hard to believe that the monastic authors on both sides of the subject could have considered women in and of themselves interesting enough to to sustain such an intense debate for so many centuries. More likely this debate was about the question of the possibility of strimoksa, at least to some extent, a kind of metaphor for a protracted struggle for the spiritual validity of the two paths of Jaina begging herself.
But that does not mean that the problems and views about women against gender raised in these texts are not really of interest and are even decisive for our understanding of the idea of women as "the other" in patriarchal societies in South Asia and elsewhere. Because in the peeling of social and psychological constructions, which is characteristic of the Jainas, back to a radically built core, we see, I believe, some with unusual clarity
the roots of misogyny in traditional as well as modern male-dominated cultures. For here, along with the usual stereotypical abuse about the "weaker sex", the fickleness of women, and their alleged sexual insatiability, we have perhaps a more fundamental line of attack clearly from the powerful and deep-seated phobic fear of the "sinister" physiology of the female Derive reproductive organs. The Jaina idea of a woman inhabiting a body infested with hosts of tiny beings who, through their constant desires and biological processes, they both create and destroy,, a body, at the same time attractive and repulsive, which makes a man both a libertine and Mass murderer, leading him from the spiritual path straight to hell, is almost unique in its construction and clarity.
My feeling is that these attitudes, far from being the quaint or bizarre obsessions of a fringe religious sect, are indeed close to the heart of sexism, which has served as a reason for the disempowerment of women in all walks of life, secular and spiritual, in the societies of the Ancient Near East and the modern Western world. It is for this reason that I believe that these Jain debates on women's liberation deserve to be read not only by scholars of Eastern religion but by thinking people in all fields of science including anthropology, sociology, social history, psychology and women's studies. Particular attention to these texts and what they can tell us about the deeply misogynistic attitudes that are at the heart of the major religions originating in the Middle East and South Asia should, I think, also be given by the authors of contemporary feminist studies of these religions and their organizational structures become.
PAGES xxi [continued] -xxiv HAVE BEEN USED IN THE ORIGINAL OF THE FOOTNOTES INTEGRATED HERE IN THE TEXT
- End of the foreword -
PAGE xxi [continued]
Footnote 1 - originally on this page, now integrated into the text
Footnote 2 - 8 originally on this page, now integrated into the text
Footnote 8f - 24 originally on this page, now integrated into the text
Footnote 25 - 34 originally on this page, now integrated into the text
I was made aware of the importance of the extensive literature on this central controversy between the two great Jaina sects during the preparation of my earlier work, The Jaina Path off Purification (1979). Muni Jambuvijayaji's (1974) publication of two Shakatayana texts, the Strinirvanaprakarana and the Kevalibhuktipra carans along with her newly discovered Svopajnavrttis - "Autocommentaries", that is, comments from the author of the verses (karika) Text - under the title Strinirvana Kevalibhukti carans, seems to provide the entire literature on the Yapaniya twin controversies in one volume. He was referring to three major Svetambara works on these twin subjects: the Tarkarahasyadipikavrtti; from Gunaratna, the Sastravartasamuccaya-tika; from Yasovijaya, and the Yuktiprabodha-Svopajnavrtti; by Meghavijaya. He also reproduced in an appendix shorter readouts relating to the subject strimoksa; from the following (Sanskrit) works by the Svetambara authors: Haribhadra's Lalitavistara, (Caityavandanasutra-vrtti); Abhayadeva's Sanmatitarka-vrtti; Vadivetala Santisuri's Uttaradhyayanasutra-brhadvrtti; Santisuri's Nyayavataravartika-vrtti; Hemacandra's Yogasastra-Svopajnavrtti; Malayagiri's Prajnapanasutra-vrtti and Ratnaprabha's Ratnakaravatarika, (Pramananayatattvaloka-tika). This appendix also contains a part by the Digambara author Prabhacandra, but only those purvapaksa, that is, the Svetambara position as explained by this author (corresponds to Chapter III, # 1-33) in his Nyayakumudacandra. Since it is rather unusual for the two sects to publish religious literature of any other, I wasn't
surprised to see Prabhacandra‘s rebuttal from the Svetambara position left out in this issue.
It is at this point that I had an idea of producing a fairly extensive volume that would bring together the Yapaniya as well as the Svetambara and Digambara texts on the subject of strimoksa and also undertake a translation of this material. Unfortunately, with the sole exception of Gunaratna‘s work (see Chapter V), none of the works cited above has also been translated into Hindi, let alone a Western language. In 1980, on a scholarship from the American Institute of Indian Studies, I visited India to consult with the Jaina beggars and pandits of both sects and for copies of the above texts in the Jaina libraries (bhandaras) to search. To my great disappointment, there were few scholars who could claim familiarity with these texts, and even fewer had read the texts from the rival sect. Still, I managed to get clarification from the scholars of each sect on a variety of doctrinal issues related to this particular controversy.I could not find any new manuscript material from the Jaina bhandaras, but I was able to microfilms from a single palm leaf manuscript of an unpublished work titled Bhukti-Muktivicara, (see Jaini, 1986) from the Digambara author Bhavasena (around 1275) from the Bibliothèque Nationale, Strasbourg. As might be expected, there is a great deal of mutual borrowing between these works and also tedious repetition. Instead of cropping the repetitions and thus giving small selections from each of these dozen or so texts, I have selected six works for this volume - five complete and one abbreviated - known for their originality as well as for the clarity of their presentation. They have been arranged in chronological order, starting with eight verses from the Prakrit Suttapahuda, the Autosr Digambara Kundakunda (approx. 150 AD) and ending with the extensive polemics of the Svetambara author Meghavijaya (approx. 1700 AD), an arrangement that helps us the emergence of new arguments through the centuries in this sectarian To follow up the debate.
The choice of Kundakunda (Chapter I) was clear because, as already mentioned, he is the initiator of the strimoksa debate and the first to challenge the legitimacy of clothed begging. Most important of the remaining authors, the ninth-century Yapaniya author Shakatayana (Chapter II), must be accorded the foremost position as the first known defender of women's ability to attain nirvana. His treatise (prakarana) specifically titled Strinirvana, coupled with a "self-comment", is the first known work on the subject in the Jain tradition. There he critically examines the scriptures held by opponents to support the thesis that femininity is not:
Correctly compatible with full begging, let alone with moksa. The Yapaniyas meet their opponents in the eleventh century Prabhacandra (Chapter III), who produces a vigorous defense of the Digambara position against strimoksa, not by referring to or by reinterpreting the appropriate script, but by formulating a series of logical arguments mentioned prayogas in its Nyayakumudacandra;. it is supplemented by the twelfth century Jayasena (Chapter IV), who reintroduces the biological reasons for refusing begging for women - reasons barely noticed by Prabhacandra - through his commentary Tataryavrtti; on Kundakunda's Pravacanasara;. The Yapaniyas have disappeared by this time, but like the fifteenth century Gunaratna‘s are short but elegantly written Tarkarahasyadipikavrtti demonstrated, the Svetambaras carried the debate on. Gunaratna (Chapter V) represents a long line of Svetambara authors who successfully reapplied the Yapaniya arguments not only to defend the ability of women to acquire moksa, but to legitimize the begging of the clad monks against the attacks of the Digambara sect keep upright. Meghavijaya (Chapter VI) summarizes in his Yuktiprabodha-Svopajnavrtti the works of all previous authors combined; he accepts the challenge of Kundakunda, systematically refutes the arguments of Prabhacandras, examines Jayasena ,s observations, and reacts to the attacks of his contemporary Neo-Digambaras. Moreover, since no new letter appears on this controversy in either of the two sects after his time, he can indeed be said to have had the last word in this extraordinary debate.
Fortunately, all of these texts have been critically edited by eminent scholars with many helpful comments on various readings and suggested corrections. As mentioned above and as it becomes clear from the short introductions by the authors before the translations of their texts, only the work of the Shakatayana (Chapter II) constitutes an independent work, the rest are small sections within their larger volumes. These editions were out of print for a long time and little known in the West, especially the volume with the work by Meghavijaya, of which only a single copy of the fragile edition from 1928 could be located at the LD Institute for Indology in Ahmedabad. With no prospect of being reprinted in view of these extensive texts, I had prepared "Latinized" versions of the one Prakrit and the five Sanskrit texts on strimoksa to accompany their translation in this volume. However, space limitations have made it impossible to include all six texts. Therefore, as a representative sample, I close the text from the Nyayakumudacandra by Prabhacandra (Chapter III) in the Appendix. For the purpose of this tape, I have taken the liberty of occasional breaking
of the Sanskrit phrases and numbering the parts with section marks (e.g. # 1) to indicate the two sides of the debate (known as the purvapaksa and the uttarapaksa). I have also identified the sect of advocates of a particular argument, a practice rarely followed by traditional Indian writers. These names, as well as the titles of the works to which the original quotations are traced, with additions in brackets, a question mark in brackets, [?] Shows that the source could not be traced.
Translating Sanskrit texts such as these, which are full of technical terms and for which there is no existing precedent, is no easy task. There is no satisfactory rendering possible, even for such familiar words as moksa, mukti or nirvana ; (tentatively translated here as "spiritual liberation" or "redemption"), let alone for the strictly Jain technical terms such as bhava; ("inner, spiritual"), darsana; ("Perception, Vision, Belief"), dravya ("external, physical"), KASAYA; ( "Passion"), Maya ("Falsehood, depravity"), parigraha; ("Attachment; property; possession"), sadhu; ("Monk"), sadhvi; ("Nun"), sattva ("Strength, courage, bravery"), veda ("Libido, sexual desire"), yoga ("Activity; Vibration"), to name just a few. For the most part, I have followed the translation of these terms in my previous work, The Jaina Path of Purification (abbreviated as JPP ), the various sections that are often also used for the teaching explanations, in order to avoid repetition. Likewise, I have retained the practice here, which proved to be extremely useful in this work, of not using italics for the Romanized (Latin script) Sanskrit texts and only italics and the definition of the Sanskrit technical terms in the place of their first appearance in work. The reader is then referred to the concordance and glossary of Sanskrit and Prakrit words on the back of the book, which provides brief definitions and page references for such terms.
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