Lectures TT2017

24 April

Lecture Room 1 – Oriental Institute
5.15pm

Professor Richard Gombrich, OCBS
New Discoveries about the Origins of the Buddhist Order of Nuns

Buddhism makes a reasonable claim to be the first world religion to emphasise human equality, including equality between the genders. But certain well known features of the Buddhist religion seem incompatible with this claim. Perhaps the most important of these are the tradition that the Buddha was reluctant to agree to the foundation of an Order of Nuns, and that when he finally agreed he said that it would mean that Buddhism would die out within this world in 500 years. Besides, Theravada Buddhism has for about a thousand years stopped ordaining nuns, a move backed by both religious and secular authorities.

Ven. Analayo, a German Theravada monk, published a book last year proving that these positions do not go back to the Buddha himself, but reflect misogynistic changes in the tradition and its texts. His discoveries deserve to be known and acted upon wherever Buddhism is found today. This lecture will simply summarise Analayo’s findings, which I believe to be momentous and convincing.

 

5 June

Lecture Room 1 – Oriental Institute
5.15pm

Dr Péter-Dániel Szántó
Tantric Buddhist Gurus in Mediaeval Indian Royal Courts

Although some passages of late tantric Buddhist literature (ca. 700 to 1200 CE) display a certain reticence towards royal courts, there is some evidence to suggest that a handful of tantric Buddhist masters did became kings’ chaplains. I will examine this corpus, consisting mostly of inscriptions and exegetical passages, trying to draw out as much information as possible about these masters’ perceived roles, standing, influence, and possible problems they may have encountered when trying to harmonise antinomian teachings and social morality.