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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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Incest in Indian Buddhist Culture

Incest in Indian Buddhist Culture

(p.125) 13 Incest in Indian Buddhist Culture
Riven by Lust

Jonathan A. Silk

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter considers incest stories in Indian Buddhist literature to understand the extent of this motif in Indian Buddhist culture. Aside from mother–son incest, there also exists in Indian Buddhist literature at least one very odd and potentially significant story of another type of incest, that between siblings. What makes the story of sibling incest so very extraordinary is not only the depiction of incest per se, but the fact that it plays a central role in the story of the origins of the Śākya clan itself. For this is the story of the roots of Śākyamuni Buddha's family tree, a family which, while not a “Holy Family” in a Christian sense, nevertheless represents the origins of the Buddha of our age, and thus possesses a special symbolic, and perhaps even iconic, value. Versions of this legend are found in the Theravāda Pāli canon and commentaries, in texts of the Mahāsāṁghika and Mūlasarvāstivāda, and in literature of other sects as well.

Keywords:   incest, Indian Buddhist literature, Indian Buddhism, siblings, Buddha

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