Self-ordination in an Indian Monastic Code / Numata Lecture

Buddhism around the World Buddhist Studies Education Events Hamilton Numata Theravada Toronto Visiting Teachers

The UofT/McMaster University Numata Buddhist Studies Program presents:

VINCENT TOURNIER (School of Oriental and African Studies)

LECTURE: Self-ordination in an Indian Monastic Code

THURSDAY, February 12, 2015, 3-5 pm, UTSC (University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus), JHB 317

This presentation will explore the status of the Buddha as the first fully ordained monk, as it emerges from Vinaya scriptures. In fact, while this issue is not directly addressed in the Vinaya of the Mahaviharavasins, a rich array of sources transmitted primarily among other nikayas understood the founder of the monastic lineage to have performed a specific kind of ordination, referred to as ‘autonomous’ (svamam, svayambhutva) or ‘master-less’ (anacaryaka) upasampada. Such an ordination features prominently in lists of types of upasampada opening texts related to the Vinayamatrka genre. These lists may be fruitfully compared in terms of their contents, ordering, and function within their wider scriptural contexts. I shall in particular analyse the significant role played by the notion of self-ordination within the Mahasamghika(-Lokottaravadin) Vinaya, as a key organising factor governing a wide range of narratives. Moreover, I will investigate the buddhological implications of this notion, exploring the relationship between definitions of self-ordination and conceptions of Shakyamuni’s bodhisattva career, of his Awakening, and of his status as the initiator of the Dispensation. I shall conclude by considering possible conceptual links between self-ordination as depicted in Vinaya literature and the self-conferral of the bodhisattva precepts as it is described within Mahayana sources.

READING GROUP: The Mahavastu and the Vinayapitaka of the Mahasamghika-Lokottaravadin

FRIDAY, February 13, 2015, 4-6 pm, McMaster, University Hall 122

VINCENT TOURNIER is Seiyu Kiriyama Lecturer in Buddhist Studies in the Department of the Study of Religions, and chair of the Centre of Buddhist Studies, at SOAS. Before joining SOAS, he studied at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris, where he obtained his Ph.D., and worked in the Netherlands and Japan. His research and teaching focus on the history of Buddhism in Ancient and Early Medieval South Asia, from Sri Lanka to Afghanistan. He has worked and published on processes of scriptural formation, transmission and authentication; on lineage and school formation; on models and aspirations towards human perfection and the cult of Buddhist ‘saints’.

For reading group materials and further information, please contact Christoph Emmrich at

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