Navigation auf


Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies

On the formation and self-representation of Buddhist monastic orders (nikāya) in ancient South Asia

On the formation and self-representation of Buddhist monastic orders (nikāya) in ancient South Asia


Prof. Dr. Vincent Tournier (LMU Munich)

Date and Time

April 23, 2024, 2 pm - 3:30 pm


Rämistrasse 71, 8006 Zürich, Room KOL-F-109


The emergence of ‘Buddhist sectarianism’ in South Asia has been much discussed since the development of Buddhist Studies in the mid-nineteenth century, with the publication of André Bareau’s Les sectes bouddhiques du Petit Véhicule, in 1955, marking a major step towards a comprehensive survey of the subject. The English translation of the latter work (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2013) has consecrated it as a classic reference work in the field, and a thorough assessment of this contribution and its current relevance is still wanting. Without minimizing the importance of Bareau’s work, the subject now deserves to be reconceptualized in several ways. In particular, there has been a general tendency to grant special weight to Buddhist historiographical works that flourished from the 3rd/4th century CE onwards, without paying sufficient attention to the fact that these sources “retrojected” a contemporary landscape onto the hoary past. Similarly, to establish the doctrinal profile of Buddhist nikāyas, Bareau and others drew extensively on Sarvāstivādin and Theravādin doxographies, which presented the views of groups they considered heterodox, without system-atically confronting these polemical characterizations with the contents of fragmentary scriptures and commentaries emanating from these milieux. Finally, an important body of evidence has been insufficiently scrutinized, namely inscriptions, the systematic study of which is arguably essential for tracing the progressive emergence of nikāya identities. The present paper will challenge persistent assumptions about the chronology and processes of identity formation within Buddhist milieux. It will further attempt to outline what an updated history of the nikāyas might look like, drawing on my ongoing research on the institutional landscape of the Deccan.
Students, staff and everyone interested is cordially invited. Prof. Dr. Angelika Malinar


Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies - Indian Studies

Weiterführende Informationen