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 well known mind's eye stands in stark distinction to the muscular, virile, and sensual determine provided in Indian Buddhist texts. In early Buddhist literature and paintings, the Buddha’s excellent body and sexual prowess are vital elements of his legend because the world’s “ultimate man.” he's either the scholarly, religiously vulnerable brahman and the warrior ruler who excels in martial arts, athletic targets, and sexual exploits. The Buddha without difficulty plays those twin roles, combining his society’s norms for perfect manhood and making a strong photo taken up via later fans in selling their culture in a hotly contested spiritual industry. during this groundbreaking examine of formerly unexplored points of the early Buddhist culture, John Powers skillfully adapts methodological ways from ecu and North American historiography to the examine of early Buddhist literature, paintings, and iconography, highlighting facets of the culture which have been strangely invisible in prior scholarship. The ebook specializes in 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 non secular attainments.

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

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The palaces were full of young women, who threw open the windows in their excitement; the city appeared as magnificent on all sides as paradise with heavenly mansions full of celestial nymphs. . 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.

His arms were long, his strength immense, and he carried himself like a bull elephant in rut. He was extremely handsome and his face had the lovely glow of moonlight. 75 The Ancient Lore of the Lord contains a description of Suka, a son of Vyasa, whose exceptional spiritual accomplishments are manifest on his physique. 76 Many of these attributes are also found among the two lists of physical characteristics of the great man, but most of the features in the Buddhist lists are omitted in the description of Suka.

In response, the Buddha extends his tongue, inserts the tip into each ear hole, and covers his forehead with it. He then performs an act of supernatural power that enables the audience to view his sheathed penis. 53 It is commonly depicted icongraphically as a protuberance on top of his head, covered by tight curls of hair. ”55 Buddhaghosa describes the protuberance as a mass of flesh covering the forehead and extending to the base of the ears, resembling a royal turban that symbolizes sovereign power.

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