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A Bull of a Man: Images of Masculinity, Sex, and the Body in by John Powers

By John Powers

The androgynous, asexual Buddha of up to date renowned mind's eye stands in stark distinction to the muscular, virile, and sensual determine awarded in Indian Buddhist texts. In early Buddhist literature and artwork, the Buddha’s ideal body and sexual prowess are vital parts of his legend because the world’s “ultimate man.” he's either the scholarly, religiously prone brahman and the warrior ruler who excels in martial arts, athletic targets, and sexual exploits. The Buddha easily plays those twin roles, combining his society’s norms for perfect manhood and making a strong picture taken up by way of later fans in selling their culture in a hotly contested spiritual market. during this groundbreaking learn of formerly unexplored elements of the early Buddhist culture, John Powers skillfully adapts methodological techniques from eu and North American historiography to the learn of early Buddhist literature, artwork, and iconography, highlighting elements of the culture which have been strangely invisible in previous scholarship. The e-book makes a speciality of the determine of the Buddha and his monastic fans to teach how they have been built as paragons of masculinity, whose robust our bodies and compelling sexuality attracted ladies, elicited admiration from males, and confident skeptics in their religious attainments.

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Extra resources for A Bull of a Man: Images of Masculinity, Sex, and the Body in Indian Buddhism

Sample text

Beholding the king’s son in the full glory of his beauty and majesty, the women murmured softly, “Blessed is his wife,” with pure minds and from no ulterior motive. 51 During Siddhartha’s first trip into the city, an old and decrepit man passes in front of the royal chariot. Channa, the driver, stops, and the feeble figure painfully makes his way across the street. Siddhartha asks how this man came to be in such a deplorable situation and is told that age is the inevitable fate of all beings. Never having witnessed the debilitating effects of senescence before, Siddhartha becomes deeply distressed and orders Channa to take him back to the palace so that he can contemplate the ramifications of his newfound understanding of time’s ravages.

The extraordinary virility attributed to Siddhartha had its costs, however. David Halperin notes in his discussion of notions of masculinity in Europe that excessive sexual indulgence was associated with effeminacy, and the same was true in India during the Buddha’s time. Manly men, particularly ksatriyas, ought to prefer the rough company of other males and to eschew the soft realm of womenfolk, and they viewed with suspicion those who deviated from masculine gender norms insofar as they preferred the soft option of love to the hard option of war.

The extraordinary virility attributed to Siddhartha had its costs, however. David Halperin notes in his discussion of notions of masculinity in Europe that excessive sexual indulgence was associated with effeminacy, and the same was true in India during the Buddha’s time. Manly men, particularly ksatriyas, ought to prefer the rough company of other males and to eschew the soft realm of womenfolk, and they viewed with suspicion those who deviated from masculine gender norms insofar as they preferred the soft option of love to the hard option of war.

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