By John Powers
The androgynous, asexual Buddha of latest well known mind's eye stands in stark distinction to the muscular, virile, and sensual determine provided in Indian Buddhist texts. In early Buddhist literature and artwork, the Buddha’s ideal body and sexual prowess are very important elements of his legend because the world’s “ultimate man.” he's either the scholarly, religiously prone brahman and the warrior ruler who excels in martial arts, athletic goals, and sexual exploits. The Buddha easily plays those twin roles, combining his society’s norms for excellent manhood and making a strong picture taken up via later fans in selling their culture in a hotly contested non secular industry. during this groundbreaking examine of formerly unexplored features of the early Buddhist culture, John Powers skillfully adapts methodological methods from eu and North American historiography to the research of early Buddhist literature, paintings, and iconography, highlighting features of the culture which have been strangely invisible in previous scholarship. The booklet specializes in the determine of the Buddha and his monastic fans to teach how they have been developed as paragons of masculinity, whose strong our bodies and compelling sexuality attracted girls, elicited admiration from males, and confident skeptics in their religious attainments.
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Additional info for A Bull of a Man: Images of Masculinity, Sex, and the Body in Indian Buddhism
They ask,] “Who is this being? ” Thousands of women, wishing to see the most outstanding of men, leave their houses empty; they stand on the rooftops, in doorways, at windows, and in the streets to gaze at him. 16 The Perfect Man’s Perfect Birth After making his decision to be reborn in our world, the buddha-to-be surveyed the earth for a woman of unblemished moral qualities who only had nine months and seven days left to live. All mothers of buddhas die shortly after giving birth, according to some texts, because this act is the culmination of their own spiritual progress up to that point.
And more generally in struggles with other men for honor— in politics, business, and other competitive enterprises. 37 Siddhartha reportedly excelled in all martial arts, but some people who knew of his opulent, hedonistic lifestyle entertained doubts about his manly bona fides. When the time came for Suddhodana to arrange a marriage for his son, one prospective father-in-law worried that Siddhartha might not be man enough to shoulder his responsibilities. The marriage was an important part of Suddhodana’s plan to keep his son involved in worldly affairs: he hoped that it would lead to the birth of male heirs and that family entanglements would keep Siddhartha preoccupied with his wife, children, and royal responsibilities.
89 The Buddha’s mother and father are also presented as paragons of humanity. ”90 The members of his clan are similarly extolled for their physical beauty, their strength and warrior abilities, and their wisdom. An extraordinary person is expected to issue from the best human stock. The Buddha’s perfect body is particularly important in these tropes, and it serves to persuade skeptics of his claims to ultimate authority. In a number of such stories, unconvinced brahmans listen to the Buddha’s sermons and are favorably impressed, but they note that people of mediocre attainments can repeat words of wisdom.
A Bull of a Man: Images of Masculinity, Sex, and the Body in Indian Buddhism by John Powers