[Buddha-l] CONF Symposium: Gender, Sex, Pollution in Buddhist Discourse, Los Angeles, USC, February 3-4, 2012

Jo jkirk at spro.net
Wed Feb 1 13:57:56 MST 2012

X-posted from H-Asia. In case there is a length issue for this list, I have
shortened it. 
CONF Symposium: Gender, Sex, Pollution in Buddhist Discourse

To shorten the length, here are just two of the paper topics:

"Sorrowful Coverings of Tainted Karma: Towards a History of Female Impurity
in Early and Middle Period Indian Buddhism"
By Amy Langenberg (Religious Studies, Auburn University)

"The Debtors' Prison - The Daoist Construction of the Blood Lake Hell for
By Jessey Choo (History, University of Missouri, Kansas City)

My Comment: 
Finally--research and reports on a topic long neglected and one that has
bothered my sensibilities for some time: the _female blood libel_ (my
construction) in east Asia,  in Buddhism,  but not at all limited to it.
Buddhism absorbed folk ideas and practices about women's bleeding
(menstruation and childbirth), adding them to Buddhist notions of
spiritual/moral purity in the east Asian regions. 

A recent publication:
_Escape from Blood Pond Hell: The Tales of Mulian and Woman Huang_ by Beata
Grant and Wilt L. Idema (translators). Univ. of Washington Press, 2011.
Check out the vernacular cover illustration (amazon.com.) of women in the
blood pond hell.

Blurb: These translations of The Precious Scroll of the Three Lives of
Mulian and Woman Huang Recites the Diamond Sutra are late-nineteenth-century
examples of baojuan (literally, "precious scrolls"), a Chinese folk genre
featuring alternating verse and prose that was used by monks to illustrate
religious precepts for lay listeners. They represent only two of numerous
versions of these legends, composed in a variety of genres, which were once
popular all over China. While the seeds of the Mulian legend, in which a man
rescues his mother from hell, can be found in Indian Buddhist texts, the
story of Woman Huang, who seeks her own salvation, appears to be indigenous
to China. 
With their graphic portrayals of the underworld; dramatization of Buddhist
beliefs about death, salvation, and rebirth; and frank discussion of women's
responsibility for sin, these texts provide detailed and powerful
descriptions of popular religious beliefs and practices in late imperial
China, especially as they relate to women.

Joanna K.

The most blatant case of Buddhism's relentless enforcement of the blood
taboo is the propagation of the Sūtra of the Blood Bowl (...Jap. Ketsubongy
ō [けつぼんぎょう]). The short apocryphal scripture of Chinese origins
opens with the arhat Mulian... descending to hell in search of his mother.
Upon discovering a blood pond full of drowning women, Mulian asks the hell
warden why there is no man in this pond, and is told that this hell is
reserved for women who have defiled the gods with their blood. Having found
his mother, Mulian is unable to help her. In despair, he returns to the
Buddha and asks him to save his mother. The Buddha then preaches the Sūtra
of the Blood Bowl. This scripture first explains the cause of women's
ordeals: women who died in labor fall into a blood pool formed by the
age-long accumulation of female menses, and are forced to drink that blood.
This gruesome punishment is due to the fact that the blood was spilled at
the time of parturition contaminated the ground and provoked the wrath of
the earth god." [this is an excerpt]

 Quoted from: _The Power of Denial: Buddhism, Purity, and Gender_, by
Bernard Faure, published by Princeton University Press, 2003, p. 73. (I
don't have Faure's book.)


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