Ambedkar and the Buddha's Sangha: A Ground for Buddhist Ethics

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Timothy Loftus

Abstract

The saṅgha is one of the three jewels of the Buddhist tradition. While undervalued in many other Anglophone iterations of Buddhist modernism, Ambedkar’s approach to Buddhism placed a reconceptualized saṅgha at the center. Where traditional accounts often limit the boundaries of saṅgha to ordained monks and nuns, Ambedkar sought to include all lay Buddhists within its frame. He suggests that the role of the saṅgha is not, as many traditional accounts might suggest, the personal liberation of the monks and nuns who join it, but instead social service directed toward the community at large. Ambedkar’s commitment to the development of a religion that champions egalitarianism naturally lead to his inclusion of women as full participants in his image of the saṅgha, despite the historically patriarchal limits placed on them in many traditional Buddhist settings. This wide-tent approach to the saṅgha, along with its emphasis on service and egalitarian principles, are defining features of Ambedkar’s unique approach the Buddhist tradition.

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How to Cite
Loftus, T. (2021). Ambedkar and the Buddha’s Sangha: A Ground for Buddhist Ethics. CASTE / A Global Journal on Social Exclusion, 2(2), 265-280. https://doi.org/10.26812/caste.v2i2.326
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Research Articles