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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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The Bedtrick

The Bedtrick

(p.88) 10 The Bedtrick
Riven by Lust

Jonathan A. Silk

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter explores the motif of the bedtrick, the literary device in which sexual partners are portrayed as unaware of their mutual identities or where one partner is unaware of the identity of the other. It argues that a crucial transformation took place when the story of Dharmaruci was altered into that of Mahādeva. In adopting and adapting to their needs the story of Dharmaruci, Indian authors excised, or tried to excise, any hint of moral ambiguity, any trace of complexity, and certainly any suggestion that their protagonist may not have been in total control of any of his actions. They could not permit the doubt that Mahādeva might have been a victim, or the possibility that he did not intend to say what his Five Theses seem to imply. They must present their Mahādeva as a self-consciously evil figure in order to deny any ground for mediation between his ideas and theirs. Their Mahādeva, therefore, was not the ignorant victim of a seductive bedtrick, but the conscious perpetrator of an incestuous sexual approach to his own mother.

Keywords:   bedtrick, Indian Buddhism, Dharmaruci, Mahādeva, incest

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