a pure mind in a clean body. bodily care in the buddhist monasteries of ancient india and china
ann heirman, mathieu torck
Buddhist monasteries, in both Ancient India and China, have played a crucial social role, for religious as well as for lay people. They rightfully attract the attention of many scholars, discussing historical backgrounds, institutional networks, or influential masters. Still, some aspects of monastic life have not yet received the attention they deserve. This book therefore aims to study some of the most essential, but often overlooked, issues of Buddhist life: namely, practices and objects of bodily care. For monastic authors, bodily care primarily involves bathing, washing, cleaning, shaving and trimming the nails, activities of everyday life that are performed by lay people and monastics alike. In this sense, they are all highly recognizable and, while structuring monastic life, equally provide a potential bridge between two worlds that are constantly interacting with each other: monastic people and their lay followers. Bodily practices might be viewed as relatively simple and elementary, but it is exactly through their triviality that they give us a clear insight into the structure and development of Buddhist monasteries. Over time, Buddhist monks and nuns have, through their painstaking effort into regulating bodily care, defined the identity of the Buddhist samgha, overtly displaying it to the laity.


Ann Heirman, Ph.D. (1998) in Oriental Languages and Cultures, is Professor of Chinese Language and Culture at Ghent University, Belgium. She has published extensively on Chinese Buddhist monasticism and the development of disciplinary rules, including Rules for Nuns according to the Dharmaguptakavinaya (Motilal Banarsidass, 2002) and The Spread of Buddhism (edited volume with Stephan Peter Bumbacher, Brill, 2007).
Mathieu Torck, Ph.D. (2006) in Oriental Languages and Cultures, is Teaching and Research Assistant of Chinese Language and Culture at Ghent University, Belgium. His publications deal with topics from research fields such as the history of nutrition and food culture in China, Chinese medical traditions and maritime and military history. He is the author of Avoiding the Dire Straits (Harrassowitz, 2009), a monograph about the history of scurvy in East and Southeast Asia.