Professor Jens-Uwe Hartmann

Out of Town, yet Bound to it: How the Early Buddhists Organized Seclusion and Survival

The time of the Buddha and the beginning of Buddhism are associated with the so-called second phase of urbanization in ancient India. In a way, early Buddhism can even be viewed as a reaction to this urbanization. It began as a movement of wandering ascetics who emphasized the need to leave the settlements and abandon social ties, but its ensuing success appears invariably bound to urban centers. There is a tension, if not a contradiction, since this success necessitates more interaction between the Buddhist ascetics and the lay communities who support them. As I will argue, this interaction reaches a new stage when the wandering ascetics finally settle in monasteries.