South Asia Seminar Series: “Customs, Norms, and Narratives: Exegetical Strategies for Reading the Mahāsāṅghika-lokottaravāda Bhikṣuṇī-vinaya Amy Langenberg”
Lecture given by Amy Langenberg.
How to “translate” texts across centuries is the historian’s conundrum. To what extent, for instance, can texts that mention nuns be read as evidence for a thriving ancient nuns’ community? This paper asks basic questions about exegetical strategies for reading the vinaya, a Buddhist literature vital to questions about women in early Buddhism. It proposes that we read the Mahāsāṅghika-lokottaravāda Bhikṣuṇī-vinaya and other vinaya texts in a flexible manner, using several interpretive approaches depending on the “facial expression” of the passage in question.