Do bodhisattas have partners?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
User avatar
Posts: 1268
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:38 am

Re: Do bodhisattas have partners?

Post by Jechbi » Fri May 29, 2009 3:45 pm

Having read this for the first time today, my initial impression is that this little tale is full of romantic drama and sexual tension:
Dhammanando wrote:... when the monk changes his mind and starts striving for arahantship (rather than paccekabodhi or sammasambodhi), the wife who's been tagging along with him through countless lives does not remain on good terms with him.
The lover's spat. A classic conflict between man and woman; he pursues his own dream without apparent regard for her, and her attachment to him is too strong to allow him to do that.
Dhammanando wrote:In the life in which the male changes his mind, the female will usually be born as a yakkhini or a female naga.
Something almost homoerotic about "female naga." Regardless, the game is on.
Dhammanando wrote:Incensed at what she perceives as a betrayal of their joint vows she will do her utmost to spoil his meditation ...
Temptation, with a bite of anger. Both parties are inflamed.
Dhammanando wrote:... until the heroic arahant-to-be finally vanquishes her with the power of his samadhi.
Through power, the male is the victor. But it was the woman's prodding that spurred him to use this power on her; she is still the object of his attention. Release of tension. Sexual overtones the whole way through.
Dhammanando wrote:The north-east region of Thailand —where most of these monks come from— is a rather macho culture that prefers rugged tough guy heroes to romantic ones.
That explains it.

Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

User avatar
Posts: 136
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 11:00 pm
Location: Finland

Re: Do bodhisattas have partners?

Post by Thanavuddho » Sat May 30, 2009 3:50 pm

Peter wrote:
Santeri wrote:I feel that Luang Por was practicing as a bodhisatta far longer that 2500 years.
Why do you feel that way? What about him makes you unsatisfied with the number 2500? What would be the difference between a person practicing as a bodhisatta for 2500 vs a person practicing for longer?
Luang Por Mun was not yet a bodhisatta destined to attain Buddhahood. If he would have been, he would not have been able to give up the adhiṭṭhāna anymore. If someone has the capacity to become a real maha-bodhisatta and he makes the adhiṭṭhāna in front of a Buddha, he will get a prediction for the future attainment from that Buddha. Luang Por was on the path to become a maha-bodhisatta. Similar to the rishi Sumedha before he made the adhiṭṭhāna to become a Buddha in the future in front of the Buddha Dipankara.

There is actually just one maha-bodhisatta that I have seen who has the assurance for Buddhahood. He is a rishi living in Thailand. Rest of the people who call them self bodhisattvas, are at most on the path to become maha-bodhisattas.

Even if this is the case, Luang Por Mun had very high level of accumulated merit already. He was able to do things that are unequaled by anyone living in the present age. He was very close to become a maha-bodhisatta assured to attain Buddhahood. He chose to give that Path up because it would have taken enormous amount of time traveling in the realm of birth and death to perfect all the paramitas. Because Laung Por had such a high level of parami, I feel that he was practicing as a bodhisatta far longer that just 2500 years.

Yes, I know. I should be doing anapanasati :embarassed:
“Tasmātihānanda, attadīpā viharatha attasaraṇā anaññasaraṇā, dhammadīpā dhammasaraṇā anaññasaraṇā.”(DN16)

User avatar
Posts: 1732
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:16 pm

Re: Do bodhisattas have partners?

Post by gavesako » Tue Jun 09, 2009 11:08 am

Here are some pictures of Luang Por Jumnien's visit to Hong Kong recently. He wears 60 kg of amulets on his body, apparently to "slow him down" because he is bursting with energy -- he must have accumulated many paramis on the bodhisattva path. He also said that he knows over 300 hundred bodhisattvas in Thailand nowadays: ... directlink#" onclick=";return false;
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

Access to Insight - Theravada texts
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts - Sutta translations

User avatar
Posts: 1732
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:16 pm

Re: Do bodhisattas have partners?

Post by gavesako » Tue Jun 09, 2009 11:21 am

A friend of mine has written an essay about the representation of Naga in Thai Buddhism. Part of it is talking about a modern film story with a Naga couple who are reborn in this life as humans (with plenty of good kamma, therefore rich and beautiful) and the male wants to seek ordination as a Buddhist monk. I find it an interesting example of how the old mythology still survives in popular imagination:


III. Nāga and Buddhism in the context of a novel and film

The belief in Nāga in Thai Buddhism inspires many writers to create their masterpieces;
such as Mae Kong by Paul Adirex (ปองพล อดเรกสาร) and Gasa Naga by Ganonk Valipakorn (กนก วล
ปกรณ). These writers are Western-educated Thai intellectual elites. Their novels suggest their clear
view of old Buddhist cosmology. I will focus on Gasa Naga (กาษา นาคา) here since it contains
elements most relevant to the modern context.
This film sets a significant scene at the Mekong river, where the main characters meet
each other for the first time at the Nāga Bang Fai ceremony. They were Nāgas and lovers in a
past life. The male Nāga in the past life wanted to be ordained in the Buddhist Sangha, but the
female Nāga did not want him to leave their pleasurable realm. However, the male Nāga secretly
went to be initiated, and left the female Nāga alone. In this life, they were reborn to meet again
through the law of Karma. Eventually, the female Nāga, as a human being in this life, allowed the
male Nāga to be ordained to find the way to attain ultimate liberation, Nirvana.

Analysis :
The representation of Nāga in this film obviously has a strong connection with
Buddhism; such as the law of Karma and rebirth, the Nāga that has the intention to be ordained
as monk, the Nāga as a protector of Buddhism, etc. It also contains the Thai social values that has
been strongly influenced by Buddhism; such as that the intention to become a Buddhist monk is
an admirable intention. People who have this kind of intention will be depicted as a respectable
and good person, the best way to repay the kindness of a mother is to be ordained as a Buddhist
monk, the Buddhist Sangha has a high status in Thai community, etc.
However, apart from confirming the belief in Buddhist doctrine, Thai social values and
ethics, the film also confirms the faith in materialism and consumerism in the changing Thai
society through the composition of figures and plot. The main characters who used to be Nāgas
in a past life have been born in a Thai elite family, having non-productive occupations. They
have big luxurious houses, house keepers and maids, posh cars and powerful parents.
Interestingly, they have the habit of using a mobile phone most of the time. Although the
essential message of the film is the representation of Nāga and Buddhist philosophy, the film
strongly conveys new values in life. The material life of big houses, mobile phones and things of
this kind. The film seems to convey the message that, according to the law of Karma, “If you
have done good things in the past last, you will reap good consequences in this life”, which is
then identified with the acquisition of material things in the modern consumerist world.
Second, Nāga in the legendary world could be well presented parallel to the modern
materialistic world, because the law of Karma and rebirth bridges the gap between the two
realms, traditional and modernistic, mystically oriented and technologically oriented. It allows
Nāga figures in a mystical world to be born again in a new life with a new context of the modern
Thai society.
To conclude, the belief in the Nāga has been continuing from pre-modern Siam to modern
Thai society through its integration into Thai Buddhism. In the early period the belief in the Nāga
was integrated in the Buddhist canonical literature and legends, Buddhist temple arts, and Thai
Buddhist traditions. Due to the social change, Buddhism has been demythologised and the belief
in Nāga found no place in the newly reformed Buddhism. However, the belief in Nāga from early
traditional context has succeeded in finding a place for itself in the modern Thai society, such as
in global tourism and films. It fits in with tourism in the process of cultural commodification, but
also faces the rejection of mythical beings by tourists who hold to an empirical scientific mind-
set. The belief in the Nāga has also carried on its old traditional motif into a modern film which,
however, at the same time confirms new cultural values of consumerism in a modern Thai
society. The adaptation of the belief in the Nāga in Thai Buddhism from early Siam to modern
Thai society allows us to have more understanding about Buddhism in Thailand. It also gives us
deeper comprehension of how politics, economy, and culture in Thailand have been changed and
affected by beliefs within Buddhism.
Naga1.JPG (49.07 KiB) Viewed 779 times
Naga2.JPG (26.82 KiB) Viewed 779 times
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

Access to Insight - Theravada texts
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts - Sutta translations

User avatar
Posts: 1732
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:16 pm

Re: Do bodhisattas have partners?

Post by gavesako » Tue Jun 16, 2009 11:26 am

This new book also seems to be related to this topic. (The aim of the early bodhisattvas was "to attain the perfect body of a Buddha endowed with all the 32 marks").

John Powers. A Bull of a Man: Images of Masculinity, Sex, and the Body in Indian Buddhism. Harvard University Press, June 2009
ISBN-13: 9780674033290, Hardcover, $45.00

From the front flap and back cover:

The androgynous, asexual Buddha of contemporary popular imagination stands in stark contrast to the muscular, virile, and sensual figure presented in Indian Buddhist texts. In early Buddhist literature and art, the Buddha’s perfect physique and sexual prowess are important components of his legend as the world’s "ultimate man." He is both the scholarly, religiously inclined brahman and the warrior ruler who excels in martial arts, athletic pursuits, and sexual exploits. The Buddha effortlessly performs these dual roles, combining his society’s norms for ideal manhood and creating a powerful image taken up by later followers in promoting their tradition in a hotly contested religious marketplace.

In this groundbreaking study of previously unexplored aspects of the early Buddhist tradition, John Powers skillfully adapts methodological approaches from European and North American historiography to the study of early Buddhist literature, art, and iconography, highlighting aspects of the tradition that have been surprisingly invisible in earlier scholarship. The book focuses on the figure of the Buddha and his monastic followers to show how they were constructed as paragons of masculinity, whose powerful bodies and compelling sexuality attracted women, elicited admiration from men, and convinced skeptics of their spiritual attainments.

A Bull of a Man is one of the most creative and remarkable manuscripts on an Indian-Buddhist related topic that I have read in the past quarter-century. No other publication on embodiment in Buddhism even approaches its sophistication. It is an exciting, essential volume for all in Buddhist studies.
--Charles S. Prebish, Utah State University

Whereas for years Western scholars have propagated a disembodied view of Buddhism, John Powers makes a powerful case for the Indian tradition's obsession with gender, sexuality, and the body. Engagingly written and packed with fascinating details, A Bull of a Man is a major contribution to Buddhist studies and a must read for anyone in interested in the interaction between gender and religion.
--Christopher E. Forth, author of Masculinity in the Modern West
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

Access to Insight - Theravada texts
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts - Sutta translations

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: auto, mikenz66, Saengnapha and 86 guests