Journal paper
篇名A Literary Survey of the Utpala-varṇā Stories in the Chinese Buddhist Canon
作者姓名Puhui, Zhao Xin
AbstractThe life story of the Bhikṣuṇī Utpala-varṇā is representative of womanhood in ancient India. In the Chinese Buddhist Canon there are dozens of similar stories relating to this famous nun, and include more than ten different characters. The most elaborate versions involve Utpala-varṇā Bhikṣuṇī 蓮華色尼, Bhadrakā(Madhurā)Bhikṣuṇī 微妙尼, and Kṛcchra- Gautamī Bhikṣuṇī 瘦瞿答彌尼. Despite a number of minor variations, the stories are largely similar, and center on the theme of retribution for incest and the six evil deeds. Utpala-varṇā is the most prominent character of this family of stories which consists of two independent groups, one centering on incest, and the other centering on the six evil deeds. Such narratives of the tribulations of womanhood are meant to illustrate the Buddhist concepts of karma, rebirth, and retribution for good and evil. They also reveal how the low social status of women in ancient Indian society, child marriage, and polygamy all contributed to their predicaments. The Buddhist path to salvation is presented as the solution to the great difficulties these women faced, and it can be seen that their entry into the bhikṣuṇī-saṃgha brought enhanced independence and opportunities for spiritual growth.
Keywordwomanhood, the six evil retributions, incest, salvation, origins of society
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