Power, Wealth and Women in Indian Mahayana Buddhism

The Gandavyuha-sutra

By Douglas Osto

© 2009 – Routledge

200 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415500081
pub: 2011-09-15
US Dollars$54.95
Hardback: 9780415480734
pub: 2008-12-04
US Dollars$158.00

About the Book

This book examines the concepts of power, wealth and women in the important Mahayana Buddhist scripture known as the Gandavyuha-sutra, and relates these to the text’s social context in ancient Indian during the Buddhist Middle Period (0–500 CE).

Employing contemporary textual theory, worldview analysis and structural narrative theory, the author puts forward a new approach to the study of Mahayana Buddhist sources, the ‘systems approach’, by which literature is viewed as embedded in a social system. Consequently, he analyses the Gandavyuha in the contexts of reality, society and the individual, and applies these notions to the key themes of power, wealth and women. The study reveals that the spiritual hierarchy represented within the Gandavyuha replicates the political hierarchies in India during Buddhism’s Middle Period, that the role of wealth mirrors its significance as a sign of spiritual status in Indian Buddhist society, and that the substantial number of female spiritual guides in the narrative reflects the importance of royal women patrons of Indian Buddhism at the time.

This book will appeal to higher-level undergraduates, postgraduates and scholars of religious studies, Buddhist studies, Asian studies, South Asian studies and Indology.


'His work will undoubtedly serve as an excellent introduction to the Ga??avyuha and a welcome resource that both surveys and complements the literature already available for the study of this fascinating scripture' - David V. Fiordalis, H-Buddhism, August 2009

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. Worldview 2. Narrative 3. Power 4. Wealth 5. Women 6. The Indian Context. Conclusion

About the Author

Douglas Osto is Lecturer in the Religious Studies Programme at the School of History, Philosophy and Classics, Massey University, New Zealand. His research interests are Mahayana Buddhism, Asian philosophies, narrative theory and gender studies.

About the Series

Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism

Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism is a comprehensive study of the Buddhist tradition. The series explores this complex and extensive tradition from a variety of perspectives, using a range of different methodologies. The series is diverse in its focus, including historical, philological, cultural, and sociological investigations into the manifold features and expressions of Buddhism worldwide. It also presents works of constructive and reflective analysis, including the role of Buddhist thought and scholarship in a contemporary, critical context and in the light of current social issues. The series is expansive and imaginative in scope, spanning more than two and a half millennia of Buddhist history. It is receptive to all research works that are of significance and interest to the broader field of Buddhist Studies.

Some of the titles in the series are published in association with the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, which conducts and promotes rigorous teaching and research into all forms of the Buddhist tradition.

Editorial Advisory Board:
James A. Benn, McMaster University, Canada

Jinhua Chen, The University of British Columbia, Canada

Rupert Gethin, University of Bristol, UK

Peter Harvey, University of Sunderland, UK

Sallie King, James Madison University, USA

Anne Klein, Rice University, USA

Lori Meeks, University of Southern California, USA;

Ulrich Pagel, School of Oriental and African Studies, UK

John Powers, Australian National University, Australia;

Juliane Schober, Arizona State University, USA

Vesna A. Wallace, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA

Michael Zimmermann, University of Hamburg, Germany

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / Buddhism / General (see also PHILOSOPHY / Buddhist)
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General