Early Buddhologists, who tended to focus on the texts and doctrines of particular schools of Buddhism, showed little interest in the study of monasticism as a set of social and religious practices. Historians and scholars of art undertook most of the foundational work in the study of Buddhist monasticism. Social and institutional historians studied monasteries as political and economic entities, while art historians examined monasteries as sites that cultivated great art and architecture. Over the past twenty-five years or so, this division of labor has slowly dissolved. As the field of religious studies has come to emphasize the importance of both social history and interdisciplinarity, scholars of Buddhism have begun to take a closer look at the social and religious lives of monastic institutions. Their studies have considered monasteries not only as political, economic, and religious bodies, but also as sacred sites and as social sites. Recent research in the field has shown that Buddhist monasteries in East Asia, as places that attracted pilgrims, tourists, scholars, and devotees, allowed diverse social groups to interact in multiple and complex ways. Despite recent growth in this subfield, however, the field still lacks single-authored studies that address Buddhist monasticism in a holistic fashion.
As mentioned above, there are no comprehensive, single-authored monographs on Buddhist monasticism. The general treatments listed here include conference volumes and other anthologies, entries related to Buddhist monasticism found in encyclopedias and other reference works, and a textbook that compares Buddhist and Christian monasticism. For general introductions to the place of monastic institutions in the history of East Asian Buddhism, start with Brook 2005, Jones 2005, Johnston 2000, and Buswell 2003. Benn, et al. 2009 contains a variety of in-depth articles representing recent research in the field and is not focused on a single tradition or site. Those interested in comparisons between Buddhist and Christian monasticism should begin with Henry and Swearer 1989. For issues specific to monastic architecture, see Pichard and Lagirarde 2003.
Benn, James, Lori Meeks, and James Robson, eds. Buddhist Monasticism in East Asia: Places of Practice. Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism 53. London: Routledge, 2009.
This anthology, which was born of a conference on Buddhist monasticism, includes a useful introduction by James Robson that addresses larger issues in the study of Buddhist monasticism. The introduction is followed by seven chapters based on historical studies of monks, monasteries, and clerical–lay relations in premodern China and Japan.
Brook, Timothy. “Institution.” In Critical Terms for the Study of Buddhism. Edited by Donald S. Lopez Jr., 143–160. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.
Insightful methodological considerations regarding the treatment of monasteries and institutions within Buddhist studies.
Buswell, Robert. Encyclopedia of Buddhism. 2 vols. Indianapolis, IN: Macmillan Reference USA, 2003.
See especially “Monasticism” (pp. 556–560), “China” (pp. 139–145), “Japan” (pp. 384–391), “Korea” (pp. 430–435), “Vinaya” (pp. 885–889), “Monastic Architecture” (pp. 549–556), “Education” (pp. 247–248), “Ordination” (pp. 614–618), and “Chanting and Liturgy” (pp. 137–139).
Henry, Patrick G., and Donald K. Swearer. For the Sake of the World: The Spirit of Buddhist and Christian Monasticism. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1989.
This book offers a thoughtful, general introduction to the comparative study of monasticism and may have useful applications in the classroom.
Johnston, William M., ed. Encyclopedia of Monasticism. 2 vols. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2000.
Useful entries include “Buddhism” (pp. 194–198), “Critiques of Monasticism” (pp. 333–37), “China” (pp. 280–284), “Japan: History” (pp. 684–689), “Japan: Sites” (pp. 689–694), “Korea: History” (pp. 717–719), “Korea: Recent Changes” (pp. 719–720), “Korea: Sites” (pp. 720–725), “Manuscript Production: Buddhist” (pp. 817–821), “Liturgy: Buddhist” (pp. 776–780), “Cave Temples and Monasteries in India and China” (pp. 255–263), and “Celibacy: Buddhist” (pp. 263–264).
Jones, Lindsay, ed. The Encyclopedia of Religion. 2d ed. 15 vols. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005.
See “Temple: Buddhist Temple Compounds in East Asia” (pp. 9045–9049), “Priesthood: Buddhist Priesthood” (pp. 7407–7410), “Monasticism: Buddhist Monasticism” (pp. 6126–6131), “Nuns: Buddhist Nuns” (pp. 6759–6763), and “Sacred Space” (pp. 7978–7986).
Lopez, Donald S., Jr., ed. Buddhism in Practice. Edited by Donald S. Lopez Jr., 455–472. Princeton Readings in Religions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995.
This anthology contains forty-eight translations of brief passages from primary sources, each prefaced by short introductions by the translators. Particularly relevant for the study of monasticism in East Asia are “Daily Life in the Assembly” (pp. 455–472), “Deaths, Funerals and the Division of Property in a Monastic Code” (pp. 473–502), “Buddhist Chaplains in the Field of Battle” (pp. 586–591), “Awakening Stories of Zen Buddhist Women” (pp. 513–524), and “Hagiographies of the Korean Monk Wzzznhyo” (pp. 553–562).
Pichard, Pierre, and François Lagirarde, eds. The Buddhist Monastery: A Cross-Cultural Survey. Études Thématiques 12. Paris: École Française d’Extrême-Orient, 2003.
Contains useful photographs and diagrams of monastic architecture. See “The Physical Buddhist Monastery in China” (pp. 305–350), “Buddhist Monasteries in Southern Mongolia” (pp. 351–390), “Buddhist Monasteries in Korea” (pp. 391–410), and “The Formulation and Evolution of Buddhist Monasteries in Japan” (pp. 411–433). Based on presentations at a workshop at the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre, Bangkok, 8–10 November 1999.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
Purchase an Ebook Version of This Article
Ebooks of the Oxford Bibliographies Online subject articles are available in North America via a number of retailers including Amazon, vitalsource, and more. Simply search on their sites for Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guides and your desired subject article.
If you would like to purchase an eBook article and live outside North America please email email@example.com to express your interest.
- Abhijñā/Ṛddhi (Extraordinary Knowledge and Powers)
- Abortion, Buddhism and
- Ajanta Caves
- Ambedkar Buddhism
- Ancient Indian Society
- Archaeology of Early Buddhism
- Art and Architecture In China, Buddhist
- Art and Architecture in India, Buddhist
- Art and Architecture in Japan, Buddhist
- Art and Architecture in Nepal, Buddhist
- Art and Architecture in Tibet, Buddhist
- Art and Architecture on the "Silk Road," Buddhist
- Asceticism, Buddhism and
- Awakening of Faith
- Beats, Buddhism and the
- Bhāviveka / Bhāvaviveka
- Bodh Gaya
- Body, Buddhism and the
- Buddha, Three Bodies of the (Trikāya)
- Buddhism and Ethics
- Buddhism and Law
- Buddhism and Marxism
- Buddhism and Modern Literature
- Buddhist Art and Architecture in Sri Lanka and Southeast A...
- Buddhist Hermeneutics
- Buddhist Ordination
- Buddhist Theories of Causality (karma, pratītyasamutpāda, ...
- Buddhist Thought and Western Philosophy
- Buddhist Thought, Embryology in
- Buddhist-Christian Dialogue
- Cambodian Buddhism
- Canon, History of the Buddhist
- Caste, Buddhism and
- Central Asia, Buddhism in
- China, Esoteric Buddhism in, (Zhenyan and Mijiao)
- Chinese Buddhist Publishing and Print Culture, 1900-1950
- Colonialism and Postcolonialism
- Compassion (karuṇā)
- Cosmology, Astronomy and Astrology
- Culture, Material
- Dalai Lama
- Demons and the Demonic in Buddhism
- Dignāga and Dharmakīrti, The Philosophical Works and Influ...
- Drigung Kagyu (’Bri gung bKa’ brgyud)
- Dzogchen (rDzogs chen)
- Early Buddhist Philosophy (Abhidharma/Abhidhamma)
- Early Modern European Encounters with Buddhism
- East Asian Buddhist Art, Portraiture in
- Ellora Caves
- Emptiness (Śūnyatā)
- Environment, Buddhism and the
- Ethics of Violence, Buddhist
- Family, Buddhism and the
- Feminist Approaches to the Study of Buddhism
- Four Noble Truths
- Funeral Practices
- Gandhāra, Buddhism in
- Gelugpa (dGe lugs pa)
- Gender, Buddhism and
- Hakuin Ekaku
- History of Buddhisms in China
- Image Consecrations
- India, Buddhism in
- India, Mahāmudrā in
- Internationalism, Buddhism and
- Intersections Between Buddhism and Hinduism in Thailand
- Iranian World, Buddhism in the
- Islam, Buddhism and
- Japan, Buddhism in
- Korea, Buddhism in
- Laos, Buddhism in
- Linji and the Linjilu
- Literature, Chan
- Literature, Tantric
- Local Religion, Buddhism as
- Lotus Sūtra
- Mahayana, Early
- Mahāvairocana Sūtra/Tantra
- Malaysia, Buddhism in
- Mantras and Dhāraṇīs
- Merit Transfer
- Miracles, Buddhist
- Modernism, Buddhist
- Monasticism in East Asia
- Mongolia, Buddhism in
- Mongolia, Buddhist Art and Architecture in
- Music, and Buddhism
- Myanmar, Buddhism in
- New Medias, Buddhism in
- New Religions in Japan (Shinshūkyō), Buddhism and
- Śāntideva (Bodhicaryāvatāra)
- Nuns, Lives, and Rules
- Oral and Literate Traditions
- Pagan (Bagan)
- Perfection of Wisdom
- Perfections (Six and Ten)
- Philosophy, Chinese Buddhist
- Philosophy, Classical Indian Buddhist
- Philosophy, Classical Japanese Buddhist
- Philosophy, Tibetan Buddhist
- Pilgrimage in India
- Pilgrimage in Japan
- Pilgrimage in Tibet
- Preaching/Teaching in Buddhism Studies
- Psychology and Psychotherapy, Buddhism in
- Pure Land Buddhism
- Pure Land Sūtras
- Religious Tourism, Buddhism and
- Saṃsāra and Rebirth
- Self, Non-Self, and Personal Identity
- Shinto, Buddhism and
- Soka Gakkai
- South and Southeast Asia, Devatās, Nats, And Phii In
- Southeast Asia, Buddhism in
- Sri Lanka, Monasticism in
- Sōtō Zen (Japan)
- Stūpa Pagoda Caitya
- Suffering (Dukkha)
- Sutta (Pāli/Theravada Canon)
- Texts, Dunhuang
- Thai Buddhism
- Thích Nhất Hạnh
- Three Turnings of the Wheel of Doctrine (Dharma-Cakra)
- Tibet, Buddhism in
- Tibet, Mahāmudrā in
- Tibetan Book of the Dead
- Tri Songdetsen
- Uighur Buddhism
- Verse Literature, Tibetan Buddhist
- Vidyādhara (weikza/weizzā)
- Vietnam, Buddhism in
- Vision and Visualization
- Visualization/Contemplation Sutras
- Warrior Monk Traditions
- West (North America and Europe), Buddhism in the
- Wheel of Life (Bhava-Cakra)
- Women in Buddhism
- Women in the West, Prominent Buddhist
- Zen, Premodern Japanese