1st Edition

Courtesans and Tantric Consorts Sexualities in Buddhist Narrative, Iconography, and Ritual

By Serinity Young Copyright 2004
    298 Pages
    by Routledge

    298 Pages
    by Routledge

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    The wisest teachings of Buddhism say that, like all oppositions, one must move beyond gender. But as Serinity Young shows in this enlightening work, the rhetoric of Buddhist texts, the symbolism of its iconography, and the performative import of its rituals, tell different, and often contradictory, stories. In Courtesans and Tantric Consorts, Serinity Young takes the reader on a journey through more than 2000 years of biographical writings, iconographic depictions, and ritual practices revealing Buddhism's deep struggles with gender.
    Juxtaposing empowering images of women with their textual repudiation, beginning with the Buddha himself who abandoned his wife; tantric courtesans who are considered necessary to male enlightenment with fertility rituals designed to ensure male offspring; tales of gender-bending gods and goddesses with all male heavens; Serinity Young draws on a vast range of sources to reveal the colourful, and often troubling, mosaic of beliefs that inform Buddhist views about gender and sexuality.

    Illustrations Acknowledgements Abbreviations Introduction Part I: Life of the Buddha 1. Rejection and reconciliation Part II: Parents and procreation 2. Mothers and sons 3. Medical excursus 4. Fathers and heirs Part III: Sexualities 5. Wives and husbands 6. South Asian Courtesans 7. Courtesans in Buddhist literature 8. Tantric consorts: Tibet 10. The traffic in women 11. Women, men, and impurity 12. Sex changes 13. Other lands/other realities Conclusion Bibliography Index


    Serinity Young

    "This book is required reading for anyone interested in Buddhism and gender. It should also find a place in any library with collections in Buddhist studies and Tibetan studies." --Rita M. Gross, University of Wisconsin, Buddhist-Christian Studies