Author Affiliations: DEPARTMENT OF CHINESE LANGUAGE AND CULTURE, FACULTY OF ARTS AND PHILOSOPHY, GHENT UNIVERSITY
Mainland Chinese nuns; gurudharma; vinaya; gender
According to tradition, when the Buddha’s aunt and stepmother Mahāprajāpatī was allowed to join the Buddhist monastic community, she accepted eight ‘fundamental rules’ (gurudharmas) that made the nuns’ order dependent upon the monks’ order. This story has given rise to much debate, in the past as well as in the present, and this is no less the case in Mainland China, where nunneries have started to re-emerge in recent decades. This article first presents new insight into Mainland Chinese monastic practitioners’ common perspectives and voices regarding the gurudharmas, which are rarely touched upon in scholarly work. Next, each of the rules is discussed in detail, allowing us to analyse various issues, until now understudied, regarding the applicability of the gurudharmas in Mainland Chinese contexts. This research thus provides a detailed overview of nuns’ perceptions of how traditional vinaya rules and procedures can be applied in contemporary Mainland Chinese monastic communities based on a cross-regional empirical study.
Introduction 241 I. The gurudharmas: an overview of mainland Chinese nuns’ perceptions 246 a. 246 b. 247 c. 248 d. 250 e. 251 II. Nuns as practitioners of the gurudharmas 251 Fieldwork research on the eight gurudharma rules 252 Conclusion 266 Acknowledgement 268