Motherhood in the Ancient Indian Buddhist World: A Soteriological Path



This chapter argues that motherhood in ancient Buddhism is conceptualized as a set of activities that focuses on nurturing and spiritual guidance and provides a soteriological path for women. Engelmajer examines two women, Mahāpajāpatı̄, the founder of the order of Buddhist nuns, and Visākhā, a wealthy lay-follower of the Buddha, who both earned the title of “mother” by embodying these mothering activities. Mahāpajāpatı̄ was the baby Buddha’s foster-mother, and Visākhā her father-in-law’s spiritual role model and guide, but Engelmajer shows that their mothering extended beyond these relationships to everyone around them throughout their life. The chapter concludes that the Buddhist sources present the mothering experience as a valuable and meaningful means to actualize the Buddhist path within the confines of ancient Indian women’s lay life.


Spiritual Development Maternal Milk Connect Discourse Domestic Duty Buddhist Text 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Carroll UniversityWaukeshaUSA

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