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Buddhism Across Boundaries: The Foreign Input [35]

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Chapter Summary

This chapter concentrates upon the "border-crossing" process of Buddhism after its introduction into China. It focuses on those who provided the raw materials: the foreign masters who in early medieval times were active at several Buddhist centres in China. The Vinaya in early Chinese Buddhism was a matter of bewildering variety: between ca. 250 and 480 CE eleven masters were active in producing disciplinary texts of no less than six different schools. It was a ritual act of supreme importance, because by this orthodox transmission of the doctrine the female order was directly connected, by an uninterrupted monastic lineage, with Mahāprajāpatī, and through her with the Buddha himself, and only such a continuous filiation could guarantee the authenticity of the female saṅgha in China. In this case the foreign input played a decisive role.

Keywords: Chinese Buddhism; female saṅgha; foreign input; Mahāprajāpatī; Vinaya



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