Ties That Bind: Maternal Imagery and Discourse in Indian by Reiko Ohnuma

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By Reiko Ohnuma

Reiko Ohnuma deals a wide-ranging exploration of the advanced function of maternal imagery and discourse in pre-modern South Asian Buddhism. Motherhood used to be occasionally extolled because the most suitable image for buddhahood itself, and infrequently denigrated because the so much paradigmatic manifestation of attachment and agony. In Buddhist literature, emotions of affection and gratitude for the mother's nurturance usually mingle with submerged emotions of hostility and resentment for the unbreakable tasks therefore created, and optimistic pictures of self-sacrificing moms are counterbalanced via awful depictions of moms who kill and eat. Institutionally, the formal definition of the Buddhist renunciant as person who has severed all familial ties turns out to co-exist uneasily with an abundance of ancient facts demonstrating clergymen' and nuns' carrying on with difficulty for his or her moms, in addition to different familial entanglements. Ohnuma's examine offers serious perception into Buddhist depictions of maternal love and grief, the position of the Buddha's personal moms, Maya and Mahaprajapata, using being pregnant and gestation as metaphors for the attainment of enlightenment, using breastfeeding as a metaphor for the compassionate deeds of buddhas and bodhisattvas, and the connection among Buddhism and motherhood because it truly existed in day by day lifestyles.

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I have the care of my teacher and have accepted the discipline in the Buddhist sutras. Now, because I am liberated, I remember my five mothers who were unable to be free because they grieved over me. I vow that they all will finally end [their grief ]. 38 t i e s t h at b ind People in the world grieve for each other in their minds.  . 6 The grieving mother is thus contrasted with the mindful monk, and the maternal love that is spiritually impotent (for both mother and son) is contrasted with the spiritual guidance of the Buddhist teacher, which effectively leads his young disciple to nirvana.

77 Although Buddhaghosa obviously cites this scenario in order to highlight the bodhisatta’s forbearance toward his evil father, it is equally remarkable to consider the baby’s attitude toward his mother. ”78 This, of course, is exactly what “evenmindedness” means—it means having the same mind (P. samacitta) toward everyone—and even the ordinary Buddhist meditator is advised by Buddhaghosa to engage in various mental exercises that are similar to that posited for Dhammapāla. In the cultivation of “loving-kindness” (P.

Oh! 73 The opposition between these two attitudes is further heightened by having the mother herself marvel at the “wonder” of her son’s detachment. Clearly, mother and son inhabit opposite ends of the spectrum. The father, on the other hand, is largely ignored. Elsewhere in the Visuddhimagga,74 Buddhaghosa invokes a second, though somewhat different, type of scenario in which the failure to distinguish one’s own mother again testifies to one’s superior nature. One way to combat any feeling of “hatred” (P.

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