Legitimizing Legitimization: Tārā’s Assimilation of Masculine Qualities in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism and the Feminist ‘Reclaiming’ of Theological Discourse

This essay examines how Tārā ‘reclaims’ the discourse of enlightenment for Buddhist women and feminist theologians. Despite universal concern for the liberation of all beings, Buddhahood in mainstream texts and narratives was confined to male deities and masters, or females that switched their gende...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Feminist theology
Main Author: Lam, Raymond
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: Sage 2014
In: Feminist theology
Year: 2014, Volume: 22, Issue: 2, Pages: 157-172
Further subjects:B Tibetan Buddhism
B Gender Identity
B Tārā
B Vajrayāna
B Mahāyāna
Online Access: Volltext (lizenzpflichtig)
Description
Summary:This essay examines how Tārā ‘reclaims’ the discourse of enlightenment for Buddhist women and feminist theologians. Despite universal concern for the liberation of all beings, Buddhahood in mainstream texts and narratives was confined to male deities and masters, or females that switched their genders in their final rebirth. Furthermore, Tārā’s senior male bodhisattvas, Avalokiteśvara and Mañjuśrî, overwhelmingly monopolized compassion and wisdom as the latters’ embodiments. This study proposes how Tārā’s theology gradually came to distinguish her from her male colleagues and reclaim the state of Buddhahood. Tārā is an unequivocally female Buddha in Vajrayāna Buddhism because she has managed to assimilate these theological virtues that were essentially reserved as masculine, correcting them as genderless qualities without identity. Tārā’s legitimization sets a concrete precedent for the title of ‘Buddha’ to be included amongst the categories of feminine faith and practice.
ISSN:1745-5189
Contains:Enthalten in: Feminist theology
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1177/0966735013507853