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Mother-Love and Mother-Grief South Asian Buddhist Variations on a Theme - Ohnuma

Mother-Love and Mother-Grief South Asian Buddhist Variations on a Theme - Ohnuma

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Published by: 無名 on May 26, 2011
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FSR, Inc.
Mother-Love and Mother-Grief: South Asian Buddhist Variations on a ThemeAuthor(s): Reiko OhnumaSource:
Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion,
Vol. 23, No. 1 (Spring, 2007), pp. 95-116Published by:
on behalf of
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JFSR23.1(2007)95-116
MOTHER-LOVEANDMOTHER-GRIEF
SouthAsian BuddhistVariationsona ThemeReikoOhnumaInthisrticle,hnumaexaminesmaternal oveandmaternalgriefnpremodernouthAsianBuddhisttexts nd discussesthemannerinwhichpatriarchaleligiousraditionsegotiatebothsymbols.nasmuchsSouthAsianBuddhismonstitutesdominant,atriarchalradition,hnumashowshowitmbivalentlyccommodateshearticularityfamother'soveforerownchildren.n theonehand,canonicaluddhisttexts xaltmother-loves aparadigmaticymbolor heniversal ove ndcompassionfBuddhasand bodhisattvas.ntheotherhand,mother-lovesalso condemneds a manifestationf selfishttachment,sexemplifiedntheufferingf therievingother,whoisdisparagednBuddhisttextssantitheticalo thespiritualgoalsofdispassion,etachment,nd overcominguffering.Thus,whilemother-loves asymbolsexalted,mother-lovesanactual ntitysultimatelyevaluedndundermined.hnumaconcludesherticleyfocusingntheuddhistoddessHIarltiandsuggestshathis radition ightrepresentuddhism'sttemptoincorporateower-levelolkraditionshatereperhapsmorecompatibleithmother-love.Inanarticlehat ppearednthisournaldecade ago,SusanStarreredobservedhathilddeathis "anextremelyalienthementhereligiousivesofmanywomen."'Seredcitedseveralross-culturalxamples,uggestinghat
1SusanStarrSered,"MotherLove,ChildDeath,andReligiousInnovation,"JournalofFeminist StudiesinReligion12(1996):5-23.ThesameideasarealsotreatedinSered'sPriestess,Mother,SacredSister:ReligionsDominatedbyWomen(Oxford:OxfordUniversityPress,1996),89-101.
 
96 JournalfFeminist tudiesnReligionbecausewomenareoftenmoreheavilymmersednd investedntheraisingfchildrenhanremen,"the eath fachildtendsohave agreater mpact ponwomen."This leadsnotonlyomoreprofoundnd prolonged rieving ut alsoto greater onfrontationithcompelling,xistentialuestions,hich canleadsuchwomen togreaterreligiousnvolvement.nepersistent attern f thisinvolvement,oreover, s that anywomen become dissatisfiedith the nter pretations f childdeathoffered y thedominant, atriarchal eligions f the culturesnwhich they ive, nd instead ecome leaders ndmembers fvariousalternativeeligious raditionsominated ywomen, such sthearspirit ossessionults fNorthandEastAfrica, ineteenth-centurymericanpiritualism, r the spirit ults fNorthern hailand.Incontrast omale-dominatedtraditions,hese traditionsffer hepossibilityfreestablishingontactithdeceasedchildren, hereby enyinghefinalityfdeath anditseverancefthemother-childond.Thisiswhy,eredspeculates,hilddeathis sostronglycorrelatedotonlyithgreatereligiousnvolvementoromenbutoften lsowiththeirnvolvementnlternative,emale-dominatedraditions.2As Sered furtherointsout, however, t is precisely his mphasis ponspecific, nterpersonalelationshipshathascaused suchwomen-dominatedtraditionsobeinterpretedyscholarsnterms f"magic"r"superstition,"rather hannterms f "religion."orconceptualmodels prevalent ince thetime fJamesrazer'sGoldenBoughhave convincedsthat hereasreligionaddressesltimateoncernssuchsdeath)nbstractnd transcendenterms,magic is associated nlywith theprivate, ersonal, nd particular. hus, bereavedmothers ho show oncernforarticulareadbabiesandnotforeadbabiesinthe bstract"ngagenmagicrather haneligion.s afeminist,owever,ered resistsodelsthatutomaticallyalue the bstract verthe pecific(andmen overwomen),challengingcholarsto seethelinketween childdeath andwomen'sreligionorhatitreallys-anexpressionf theprimacyof love ndcare,ndalegitimatexistentialrapplingithwhatisurelyneofthemostincomprehensibleacetsfhumanxperience."3This article xplores ered's ideasinrelationopremodern outhAsianBuddhist iteraturereservednanskrit,ali, andChinese translation.nparticular,addressthefollowinguestions:owhat extent sSouthAsianBuddhismbletoccommodatehemother's ovefor erown,articularhildren?Ismother-loveompatibleiththehighestuddhist dealsrdoesittandnopposition? orrespondingly,ow dopremodernouthAsianBuddhisttextsdepictthebereavedmotheringrief?ustthemother'sarticular riefveronespecificeadbabybe eradicatednfavorfaconcernfordead babiesin thebstract"norder to conform oBuddhist deals? r do these texts ccommodate uchparticularisticriefndrecognizetsalegitimateasisfor
2Sered,"MotherLove,"5-8.3Ibid.,20-23.

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