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Riven by LustIncest and Schism in Indian Buddhist Legend and Historiography$
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Jonathan A. Silk

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824830908

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824830908.001.0001

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Why Incest Taboos?

Why Incest Taboos?

Chapter:
(p.202) 19 Why Incest Taboos?
Source:
Riven by Lust
Author(s):

Jonathan A. Silk

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824830908.003.0019

This chapter considers the question of what may have inspired its authors to deploy the Oedipal tale of Mahādeva. It asks: if the significance of incest is thoroughly contextual, how and why does the portrayal of Mahādeva—not merely as a patricide and matricide but equally if not more powerfully as a practitioner of incest—so very forcefully serve to stigmatize him and by extension facilitate dismissal of the views he is reputed to have propounded? The chapter examines the hold that incest has on human mentality and attempts to trace the social and biological bases of that fascination. Modern scientific thinking sees the roots of incest abhorrence in both biological and psychological causes. An understanding of these factors shows how ancient Indian attitudes, Buddhist and non-Buddhist alike, fit into larger human concerns.

Keywords:   incest, Oedipal, Indian Buddhism, ancient Indians, Buddhists, Mahādeva

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