Riven by Lust: Incest and Schism in Indian Buddhist Legend and Historiography

Riven by Lust: Incest and Schism in Indian Buddhist Legend and Historiography

By: Jonathan A. Silk (author)Hardback

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Riven by Lust explores the tale of a man accused of causing the fundamental schism in early Indian Buddhism, but not before he has sex with his mother and kills his father. In tracing this Indian Buddhist Oedipal tale, Jonathan Silk follows it through texts in all of the major canonical languages of Buddhism, Sanskrit, Pali, Tibetan, Chinese, and Japanese, along the way noting parallels and contrasts with classical and medieval European stories such as the legend of the Oedipal Judas. He tracks the Indian myth in both directions - back to its probable early sources and forward in its labyrinthine developments through the Buddhist world. Simultaneously, he investigates the psychological and anthropological understandings of the tale of mother-son incest in light of contemporary psychological and anthropological understandings of incest, with special attention to the question of why we consider it among the worst of crimes.Starting from a brief reference in a polemical treatise, ""Riven by Lust"" demonstrates that its authors borrowed and intentionally adapted a preexisting story of an Oedipal antihero. This recasting allowed them to calumniate their opponents in the strongest possible terms through the rhetoric of murder and incest. Silk draws on a wide variety of sources to demonstrate the range of thinking about incest in Indian Buddhist culture, thereby uncovering the strategies and working methods of the ancient polemicists. He argues that Indian Buddhists and Hindus, while occupying the same world for the most part, thought differently about fundamental issues such as incest, and hints at the consequent necessity of a reappraisal of our notions of the shape of the ancient cultural sphere they shared.Provocative and innovative, ""Riven by Lust"" is a paradigmatic analysis of a major theme of world mythology and a signal contribution to the study of the history of incest and comparative sexualities.

About Author

Jonathan A. Silk is professor in the study of Buddhism at Leiden University.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780824830908
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 376
  • ID: 9780824830908
  • ISBN10: 0824830903

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