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The Buddhist "Monastery" and the Indian Garden: Aesthetics, Assimilations, and the Siting of Monastic

The Buddhist "Monastery" and the Indian Garden: Aesthetics, Assimilations, and the Siting of Monastic Establishments Author(s): Gregory Schopen

Source: Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 126, No. 4 (Oct. - Dec., 2006), pp. 487-

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The Buddhist Aesthetics,

"Monastery"

and the Indian Garden:

Assimilations,

and the Siting

of Monastic

Establishments

 

GREGORY

SCHOPEN

 
 

UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA,

Los

ANGELES

 

-Fur

Oskar von Hinuiber als kleines Zeichen

eines grossen Dankes

 

The

vocabulary

we

use

to refer

to early Buddhist

establishments

in India

could

hardly

be

more different

from

the vocabulary

that early Buddhist

authors

or compilers

used

to refer

to

the same places, 1 nor could two lexicons be farther apart in their associations.

We

call such

places "monasteries" or "cloisters" and-willingly

or

not-invoke

a vision

of

an isolated,

chaste, serene, ascetic,

and

austere

space.2

Buddhist

monks,

however,

in both

texts

and

inscriptions called such places viharas or aramas, and these Sanskrit terms, or their Prakrit

equivalents, would have had very different associations.

In Classical

Sanskrit

the

term

vihdra would

have meant,

and continued

tomean,

"walking

or

touring

for pleasure"-this

is the only sense inwhich As'oka uses the term3-or

"sport, play,

pastime,

or diversion,"

or

"a place of recreation, pleasure-ground." Arama

have

referred

to "delight,

plea

sure," or a "place

of

pleasure,

a garden,"4

and

too would for an urban

population

of

any

standing

or

sophistication

in classical

India both

terms would

have

been

associated

with

gardens

lush

with

flowers

and

fruit

trees

in bloom,

filled with

bird-song

and

the cries

of

peacocks

and

the sound of bees, all invoking a strong aesthetic eroticism-an

arama

or vihara

or udyana

was

where well-heeled men went to dally with lovely ladies,

or where

urban

ladies went

to

amuse themselves and take in the scenery. Scenes of such

occur

repeatedly

in Classical

Sanskrit drama and "court" poetry where the garden and its beauties are constantly extolled

and

intertwined

with

aesthetic

and erotic

pleasure.5

1. "Early"

here

and

throughout

is an elastic term. In the archeological

record

"early" Buddhist

"monasteries"

are

relatively

late,

not

appearing

clearly

until

the beginning

of

the Common

Era.

Since

texts

as we

have

them

already

know

the kind

of

fully

developed

vihdra

that appears

in the archeological

record

only

then,

the texts

apparently

can

not be

any

earlier;

see G.

Schopen,

Buddhist

Monks

and Business

Matters:

Still More

Papers

on Monastic

Buddhism

in India

(Honolulu,

2004),

73-80.

2.

As

one

of

a very

large

number

of

possible

examples,

see

P. Fergusson,

Architecture

of Solitude:

Cistercian

Abbeys

in Twelfth-Century

England

(Princeton,

1984),

noting

in particular

its

title;

or

the photographic

evocation

in the more

popular

S. Tobin,

The Cistercians:

Monks

and Monasteries

of Europe

(Woodstock,

NY,

1995).

3.

Schopen,

Buddhist

Monks,

76;

see

also H.

Falk,

"The Preamble

at Paniguraria,"

inBauddhavidyasudhakarah:

 

Studies

inHonour

of Heinz

Bechert

on

the Occasion

of His

65th Birthday

(Indica

et Tibetica,

vol.

30), ed. P.Kieffer

Pulz

and

J.-U. Hartmann

(Swisttal-Odendorf,

1997),

106-21,

 

esp.

118-19.

 

4.

For

the senses

of

both

vihalra

and arama,

see M.

Monier-Williams,

A Sanskrit-English

Dictionary

(Oxford,

1899)

but

almost

any

Sanskrit

dictionary

will

produce

the same.

 

5.

On

all of

this

see

the recent

and

long

overdue

study

of

the early

Indian

garden

in D. Ali,

"Gardens

in Early

Indian Court

Life,"

Studies

inHistory,

n.s.

19.2

(2003):

221-52,

which

will

be

referred

to frequently

below.

On

the

profusion

of

interchangeable

terms

used

to refer

to the garden,

see

especially

224,

where

ardma

is highlighted

but

vihdra

is not,

in part,

perhaps,

because

there

is a tendency

to see

a Buddhist

meaning

in the

term where

itmay

not

have

one.

In theMOrcchakatika

(Act

IX, Vs.

30+),

for example,

the hero Carudatta,

a brahmin,

is praised

for having

adorned the city with tavatpurasthapana-v ihardrdma-devalaya-tadagakiipayiipa.

 

Kale

translates

this as "founding

suburbs, and

monasteries, gardens, temples, tanks, wells, and sacrificial posts" (M. R. Kale, The MOrichchhakatika

Journalof theAmericanOrientalSociety126.4(2006)

487

488 Journal

At

first sight,

of

course,

of

the American

the vocabulary

Oriental

Society

of

our Buddhist

126.4

monks

(2006)

is

at

least

a little

star

tling, but

their use of

the language

of

the Indian garden

is not

limited

to the terms vihara

or

ariama. A

number

of Buddhist

inscriptions,

for example,

refer

toman.apas

as components

or

constructions

atmonastic

sites,6

and although

this

term

is usually

translated

as a "hall"

or

"pillared

hall,"

Daud

Ali-in

the first serious

discussion

of

gardens

in early

India-has

noted

that

 

By

far, themost

prominent architectural structures in gardens were bowers

(man.apa

nikunija),

which

formed a sort of enclosure, or just as

typically, were fashioned by arranging vines and other creeping plants around the structure of a

could either take the form of a clump of

treeswhich

roofed pavilion

(man.apa).7

 

He

also

notes

that the function

of

these

"bowers"

or mandapas

was

to provide

shade,

but

that

they were

also

"places

of

shelter

and

rest

from

the games

and pursuits

of

the gar

den

places

of

seclusion-places

 

where

lovers

could

conduct

their amorous

liaisons

in

secrecy"

(p. 232).

The

presence

of

"architectural

structures"

and Ali's

remarks, moreover,

should

suggest

what

both Buddhist

and non-Buddhist

literary

sources make

clear:

the early

Indian

garden,

while

full

of

flowers,

flowering

and

fruit

trees,

and

flocks

of

all

sorts

of

birds, was

not

a natural

space,

but

a constructed

and cultivated

one, one that was carefully

tended

by

gardeners,

and

such

gardeners

were

commonly

called-in

both

Buddhist

and

non-Buddhist

literary

sources-ardmikas.

But

dramika

is yet

another

term

from

the

lexi

con

of

the garden

that is shared with

Buddhist

monastic

sources:

Buddhist

monastic

codes

regularly

call

a category

of

lay menial

workers

who

do

the manual

labor of

the "monas

tery" dramikas.8

The work-force

and attendants

of

pleasure

groves

and Buddhist

"monas

teries"

are,

then, called

the same

thing

in classical

India.

Whether

itwill

ever

be possible

to establish

a clear

chronological

priority

between

the

lexicon

of

the garden

and

the Buddhist

monastic

lexicon

remains

doubtful

and,

in any case,

to be

seen,

and even

if

it could

be done

the more

important

thing

is that there

is no doubt

at

all that both lexicons were being deployed and were simultaneously

circulating

in the early

centuries

of

the Common

Era,

and

that is the period

of

interest

here.

This

is clear,

for ex

ample,

from

two plays

attributed

to Suidraka-whatever

their precise

dates9-which

reflect

of Suidraka

[Poona,

1924],

340.7

and 341);

Ryder

as "with mansions,

cloisters,

parks,

temples,

pools,

and

fountains"

(A. W. Ryder,

The Little

Clay

Cart

[Harvard

Oriental

Series,

vol.

9]

[Cambridge,

Mass.,

1905],

148).

But

here,

and

in a number

of

similar

passages

in Sanskrit

literature,

there

is no good

reason

for

thinking

that the

term vihara

refers

to "a (Buddhist)

monastery"

or "cloister,"

and

it is probably

better

taken

as "place

of

recreation,

pleasure-ground."

6.

See

J. Ph.

Vogel,

"Prakrit

Inscriptions

from

a Buddhist

Site

at Nagarjunikonda,"

Epigraphia

Indica

20

(1929-30):

22;

P. R.

Srinivasan,

"Some

Brahmi

Inscriptions

from Guntupalli,"

Epigraphia

Indica

39

(1973):

250;

J. Burgess,

Report

on

the Elura

Cave

Temples

and Brahmanical

and

Jaina

Caves

inWestern

India

(Archaeo

logical

Survey

of Western

India,

vol.

5)

(London,

1883),

81-82

(from Kanheri);

etc.

7. Ali, "Gardens,"232.Note thatAli's focus ison "palaceandcity-householdgardens,"but thefeaturesdiscussed

here

and below

would

appear

to be

common

to all

types.

 

8.

Forjust

one

example

of

ardmika

being

used

in the non-Buddhist

sense

inBuddhist

literature,

see Ctvaravastu,

 

GMs

iii

2,

16.2

(for

abbreviations

used

in textual

citations

see

the

list

in Schopen,

Buddhist

Monks).

For the more

specifically

Buddhist

use

of

the

term,

see most

recently

N.

Yamagiwa,

"Ardmika-Gardener

or Park Keeper? One

of

theMarginals

around

the Buddhist

Samgha,"

in Buddhist

and

Indian

Studies

inHonour

of Professor

Sodo Mori

(Hamamatsu,

2002),

363-85.

 
 

9.

For

two

representative

discussions

of

the problems

of

date

and

authorship,

see G.

H.

Schokker,

The Padata

 

ditaka

of Sydmilaka,

part

1 (Indo-Iranian

Monograph,

vol.

9)

(The Hague,

1966),

27-31;

A. K. Warder,

Indian Kavya

Literature,

elephant

vol.

incident,

3: The Early J. A.

see

Medieval

Period

B.

van Buitenen,

(Sidraka

to Visakhadatta),

"The Elephant

Scene

of

2nd

rev. ed.

theM]rcchakatika,

(Delhi,

Act

1990),

1-45.

Two,"

JAOS

83

For

the

(1963):

 

SCHOPEN:The Siting

ofMonastic

Establishments

 

489

both

a fully

developed

conception

of

the Indian garden

and

its aesthetic

and erotic

associa

tions,

ture.

together with

In Act

VIII

of

heroine

unconscious

a sophisticated

knowledge

of Buddhist

monastic

practice

theMrcchakatika,

tells her

to stand

for example, up by holding

the Buddhist

onto

bhiksu

a creeper-he

who

does

touch her and thus avoids violating

the Vinaya

rule; he also uses

the term vihdra

and

its litera

revives

the

not himself

and the tech

nical term dharmabhagini ('sister-in-religion')

Buitenen

is right-there

is even

a clever

spoof

to refer

to a nun

of

the well-known

(Vs. 46+);

incident

inAct

IL-if

van

in the Buddha's

biography where

 

he pacifies

a rampaging

elephant.

But

in the Padmaprabhrtika

there

is an

actual

instance

of

the two

lexicons-the

monastic.

and

the erotic-being

deployed

simul

taneously

double-entendre.

Here

a Buddhist

monk

is seen

hurrying

out

of

a

whorehouse.

in a clever When

accosted,

however,

he says

that he

is just coming

from

the "monastery"

(vihdra),

(vihara). His accoster, then, all but makes the double meaning explicit when he retorts:

"Indeed, I know the real meaning of your vihdra." 10 The indications coming from the other

which

of

course,

he

is, since

he

is coming

from his

"play"

or "pleasure

ground"

side

are even more

 

If we

explicit. take theMulasarvastivdda-vinaya

as an example-and

 

itwill

be our primary

focus

here-there

can

also

be no doubt

that the Buddhist

monks

who

compiled

it in north India

calls

in the early centuries of the Common

Era were

fully

aware of what Ali

"the institution

of the garden" and its cultural values in all their layered complexity.

There can also be very

little doubt that in compiling their texts these Buddhist monks-as we will see-attempted

to assimilate their establishments

to the garden,

or actually

saw

them

as belonging

to that

cultural category. In any case, these Buddhist monks had a detailed knowledge of the Indian

garden.

Ali

says,

"Indeed,

it seems

that

the

first widespread

coincided

with

appearance the rise of

of

cities

 

specifically

desig

 

nated

'gardens'

in early

Indian

sources

 

and

the growth

of

urban

life." He

also

notes

that "the

institution

of

the garden"

emerged

with

the growth

of

cities.

11 But

that

the Indian

garden

was

an urban

phenomenon

and

an urban

value

had,

26-29

[= Studies

in Indian

Literature

and

Philosophy:

Collected

Articles

of

J. A.

B.

van Buitenen,

ed. L. Rocher

(Delhi,

1988),

201-7];

and note

that

in what

follows

theMrcchakatika

will

be

cited

as

a

representative

example

but only

that-of

what

is found

in classical

Indian

drama.

 

10. For

both

text and

a translation,

see

J. R.

A.

Loman,

The Padmapra-bhrtakam:

 

An Ancient

Bha-na

Assigned

to Sidraka

(Amsterdam,

1956)

??

22

(1)

- 24

(15);

61-62

and

n. 74;

see

also

G.

Schopen,

"The

Learned

Monk

as

a Comic

Figure:

On

Reading

a Buddhist

Vinaya

as

Indian

Literature,"

 

213-14.

For

a good

example

of

the continuing

abundant

use

of

forms

of

vi

after

Dasakumdracarita

long

the Buddhists

had

adopted

What

in I. Onians,

the

term vihara Ten Young Men

to refer

Did

to their monasteries, (New York, 2005),

Journal

of

Indian

Philosophy

to pleasure

text and

136-37,

and

35

erotic

(2007):

play

of

292-93,

the

1 hOrto refer

see

122-23,

the

translation

150-51,

386-87, 436-37, 500-501.

11. Ali,

"So

far as

"Gardens,"

of Buddhism

222,

250.

If recent

see G. Bailey

studies

and

associations

emergence

85:

as well;

any

sort of

chronological

are correct,

I.Mabbett,

then

the emergence

of

The Sociology

of Early

the garden

Buddhism

can

be made,

it

is our

view

that

the

rise of

coincided

(Cambridge,

Buddhism

with

the

2003),

accom

panied

the beginnings

of

the second

stage

the canonical

texts

took

shape

as a whole

[of

the second

period

somewhat

later, when

stage was

ley and Los

thoroughly

Angeles,

familiar

2002),

and

140:

taken

for granted."

"The Buddhist

Pali

R. Thapar,

Canon

of

urbanism

in India!]. What

is clear,

the full-fledged

urban

environment

though,

of

the

Early

India:

From

therefore

does

not

the Origins

coincide

to AD

1300

with

the earliest

is that

second

(Berke

phase

of urbanization,

but with

the more

mature

period."

Unfortunately

many

historians

have

not

yet

learned

that

there

is

much

more

to "early" Buddhist

literature

than just

the Pali

canon,

and

that the latter cannot

be

taken

as representative.

For an example

of

the different

sort of

picture

that can

emerge

when

an historian

takes

into account

literary

sources

other than the Pali

canon,

see,

however,

R.

Thapar,

"Lay/Clerical

Distinctions

in Early

India,"

in Law,

Laity,

and

Solidarities:

Essays

inHonour

of Susan

Reynolds,

ed.

P. Stafford

et

al.

(Manchester,

2001),

249-61.

490 Journal

of

the American

Oriental

Society

126.4

(2006)

in effect, already been noted long before in theMuilasarvastivada-vinaya.

As

a lead-in

to

one of itsmany narratives

set in a garden,

the compilers

of

this monastic

code

inserted

one

of their typical editorial

or explanatory

comments

that are meant

to account

for some

ele

ment

of

the action

to follow,

and

anticipating Ali-nagaramanusyah

Ali

notes

further

that "The overall

frequently

constitute

cultural

truisms.

This

one

said

udyanapriyah

descriptions

gardens." 12

of gardens in the early Indian sources

"men

of

the cities

love

suggest that they were not perceived as 'wild,' 'untamed' or 'pristine' nature, but

instead,

carefully constructed and highly supplemented places" (p. 223); that the character

of

gar

dens was "artificial";

that

they were

"places

which

required

great material

expenditure

and laborious

care"

(p. 225);

and were

"highly

manipulated

and

ornamented

spaces

furnished with various forms of decoration-paintings, hangings, silken cloths and jewels"

(p. 233).

to look after it to ensure

(tatra ca preksitum anudivasam

karayitum gacchami).13

According

to Suidraka's Mrcchakatika

that

Again

it was

properly

the owner

drained,

of

a garden

had

to go

every

day

cleaned,

thriving,

pustam

and manicured

luinam

suskam

the monks

karayitum

who

sodhayitum

compiled

karayitum

the Miulasarvastivada-vinaya

were

fully

aware of

all

this, and not

infrequently

refer in some detail to the "supplemented,"

"artificial," "manipulated and ornamented" character of example, describes what went into preparing the gardens had them

the garden.

of Sravasti by saying that officials

Its Ksudrakavastu,

for

cleaned, and having had the stones, and gravel, and pebbles swept up, they had them removed.

incense, arranged all around, with

Sprinkled with

streamers and banners strung out, strings of

like a pleasure

ers, captivating-they

sandal water, hung with pots of sweet scented

were

tassels suspended, strewnwith various kinds of flow

grove and garden of the gods. 14

Although

such descriptions

of

the Indian

garden

are so common

in this monastic

code

that

they could

be called

stencilled,

like all such

stencilled

passages

they do not always

occur

in

exactly

the

same

form:

sometimes

elements

are deleted,

and

sometimes

new

ones

are

added.

In the Civaravastu,

for example,

 

it

is said

that the garden

is prepared

not

only

by

removing

stones

and gravel,

aspersing

it with

scented

water,

and

festooning

it with

cloth

streamers,

but

also by

filling

itwith

the sounds

of

all

sorts of

singing

and music

(anekagi

tavaditraninidita).'5

Such

spaces,

it

is

important

to note,

were

not

just

"highly

supple

mented

places";

they were

also

spaces

where-according

to these Buddhist

sources-the

 

more

gritty

or

less

aesthetically

pleasing

aspects

of

nature were

intentionally

elided.

The

Buddhist

monks

who

redacted

or

compiled

the MuilasarvastivCida-vinaya

were,

finally,

also

fully

aware

that "more

than anything,

the garden was

associated

with

love

and

lovers," with "erotic dalliance"-it

formed,

in fact,

as Ali

noted

(p. 237)-"the

ideal

setting

for the illicit or quasi-licit

romances

which

formed

the subject

of numerous

plays and poems

in Sanskrit literature." As in this literature the Buddhist monks associated the garden with

"Gardens,"

spring, and "spring was the season most associated with erotic pleasures

(Ali,

12.

Carmavastu,

GMs

iii 4,

198.16-the

 

reading

given

 

here

is Dutt's;

the manuscript

itself

is problematic

and

probably

corrupt

(this vastu

as awhole

is often

problematic

in the Gilgit

manuscript),

but

the Tibetan

is clear:

grong

 

khyer

gyi mi

rnams

skyed mo<