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Sex change and glimpses into a Buddhist nun’s life

April 22, 2014 - 16:15

Oslo Buddhist Studies Forum
Dr. Petra Kieffer-Puelz, Akademie der Wissenschaften (Mainz)
“Sex change and glimpses into a Buddhist nun’s life”
Abstract: The idea of sex-change in one and the same life – not effected by surgery – is a widespread topic in Indian literary culture. There are stories of involuntary sex change caused by gods as a revenge or of voluntary sex change by magic pills or herbs, etc., in Hindu literature (Purāṇas, Ramāyāṇa, etc.), or as an act of truth in Buddhist literature.
Sex change clearly is part of the cultural heritage of India. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise that the Buddhist lawyers who wrote the legal codes for Buddhist monastics (Vinaya), and who tried to cover all eventualities, also regulated the case that a Buddhist monk might wake up as a female or a Buddhist nun as a male.
Independent from the question whether such sex changes ever took place, the commentators on the Vinayas had to, and, in fact, did comment on these passages. In this connection they made casual statements (obiter dicta) which shed some light on the life of Buddhist nuns at the respective commentators‘ times.
We will focus on the information contained in the Vajirabuddhiṭīkā (10th century AD) and its sources.
Venue: PA Munch’s hus, room 10, University of Oslo
Sex change and glimpses into a Buddhist nun’s life


April 22, 2014