1 On Generalized Exchange and the Domestication of the Sangha Author(s): Ivan Strenski Source: Man, New Series, Vol. 18, No. 3 (Sep., 1983), pp Published by: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland Stable URL: Accessed: 17/08/ :48 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Man.
2 ON GENERALIZED EXCHANGE AND THE DOMESTICATION OF THE SANGHA IVAN STRENSKI Connecticut College The 'domestication' of the Theravada Buddhist sangha has typically been looked on as the simple consequence of the sangha's assumption of permanent physical residence in a given location. Alternatively, in the romantic vein it has been considered an inevitable result of spiritual decline into routinised settled life. Against both these materialist and romantic views, it is argued that domestication is primarily a social process. In the case of Theravada Buddhism, domestication needs to be understood as a consequence of ritual gift giving to the sangha-the institutional condition of the sangha within a system of generallsed exchange. Rather than a deviation from ancient norms, domestication of the sangha is a normal social development of an ancient deviant sect. By many reckonings, the Theravada Buddhist sangha, or community of monks, enjoys the greatest longevity of any existing voluntary human society. Yet, the sociological understanding of the sangha, including its relations with the Buddhist laity, has remained relatively undeveloped compared to other fields of religious sociology. Part of this may be the result of an undue respect for the formative thoughts of scholarly 'ancestors' in the field. Max Weber was among the first to apply systematic sociological perspectives to the study of the sangha. In doing so, however, he set the terms of the debate in ways which may have limited rather than expanded inquiry. Even scholars who have written their own chapters in the sociology of Theravada still perpetuate some of the same unexamined perspectives first introduced by Weber and others. It is time to examine some of these classical assumptions which have guided our scholarship about the Buddhist sangha. One area particularly dominated by classical approaches to the study of Theravada is the problem of the transition from the sangha of the early renouncer community to the national, political and social Buddhism of the south Asian Buddhist middle ages. Indeed, Carrithers has called this the 'fundamental' problem of Theravada sociology and has termed the process 'domestication' (I980: I95 sq.). Others, such as Tambiah, speak more narrowly of an apparently similar process called 'feudalisation' (I976: 6f), while Malalgoda (I976: ii sq.; cf. Weber I958: 233) speaks of 'transformation'. Although such scholars tend to agree about the nature of the phenomenon to be isolated, they differ sharply on the origin and value of 'domestication'. This need not, however, detain us here. Whether early Buddhism spoke more or less exclusively in the voice of Dumont's man-outside-the-world (I970: ch. 3), as Man (N. S.) i8,
3 464 IVAN STRENSKI Carrithers believes, or whether, as Tambiah holds, 'social' Buddhism was chartered from the very beginning, thus coming to flower in the Buddhist medieval period, seems to me beside the point. 'Domestication' is still a fundamental issue, even if scholars may quarrel about whether it represents a fulfilment or repudiation of some 'early' tradition. In the tradition of this problematic itself, I argue that the dynamic of religious giving ought to be considered a fundamental internal factor in propelling Theravada along the path to a fully social religious status. In so arguing, I think it is possible to maintain neutrality between Carrithers and Tambiah, for example, about the degree and nature of the social component of early Buddhism. Likewise, in raising the matter of the transition, it might be useful to reserve judgment on the value of the 'domestication' of the sangha. Or at least we might balance our prejudices on the issue of the value of domestication. In some sense, Weber's protestant-romantic abhorrence for bureaucratisation skews his vision of monastic landlordism as a kind of fall from grace, anticipating the degeneration of romanised Christianity. Allowing for Weber's ethical-religious biases, we can begin entertaining other candidate explanations-themselves perhaps skewed in different directions. A 'cultural Catholic' ('culturaljewish' or simply Durkheimian) reading of domestication might place more emphasis on the wholesomeness of social Buddhism as a natural development like that of the church itself. To be sure I counsel here no bloodless neutrality, but a lively-sometimes bloody-entertaining of opposed interpretations. One way to lift the moral clouds Weber has settled on the domesticated sangha is to offer a counter-evaluation, producing, at worst, an ethical balance on the issue. With a balance thus achieved, we can then open up the question of the reasons for domestication in ways that might provide new perspectives. A new perspective is needed, because Weber's approach to the mature sangha leaves little room for seeing domestication as a natural development of Buddhist processes. Rather, his view makes the development of Buddhist civilisation a kind of aberration, in his words, 'the unavoidable accommodation to the actual conditions of the world' and 'the interest of the laity' (I958: 243). Instead we might look on the domestication of the sangha less as a deviation from an ancient norm and more as the normal development of an ancient deviant sect-early Buddhism itself. After all, that seems to be what the great bulk of Buddhists throughout history seemed to have believed by their pious support of the sangha and their faithfulness to Buddhist civilisation. Defining domestication Weber's views aside, what precisely has the concept of domestication meant? What ought to be meant by it in future? Two things should be noted from the beginning: the sense one gives to the concept of 'domestication' and the degree to which a sangha can be said to be 'domesticated' vary between different Buddhist countries, even if inquiry is limited to the Buddhist countries of south and southeast Asia. At a minimum, I urge that domestication of the sangha occurs whenever certain relations are established between the sangha and laity, whenever the
4 IVAN STRENSKI 465 sangha participates with the laity in institutions. Therefore, we should consider at least five salient areas of domesticating relationship: residential, ritual, social, political and economic. Thus when it is said that the sangha is 'domesticated' we should mean that it has established relationships with lay society in one or more of these five (or more) senses. For example, when Weber says that the sangha has been 'domesticated' (his word is 'transformed'), he means that it has taken up residence in common, near the precincts of an established lay settlement (hence gamavasin), enclosed within its own boundaries (slmd) and housed within human structures, ranging from caves prepared for habitation to the elaborate monastic dwellings well-known in south and southeast Asia. This, of course, makes good conceptual sense, because at least part of what is generally meant by the undomesticated primitive Buddhist sangha is a community of homeless wanderers, who keep to themselves, generally sleeping in the open air or in sheltered places in the north Indian forests. Beyond these residential relations, a domesticated sangha will, second, maintain a range of ritual relations with the lay communities outside it. Above all, the sangha is a ritual receiver of gifts. Weber even argued that the only real rule laid upon the Buddhist laity was the obligation to maintain the sangha by giving it gifts (I958: 230). This in turn leads to the first of the sangha's two chief symbolic relations with the lay world: the sangha is the chief occasion for merit-making (only superficially 'given' by the sangha for gifts received), thus making the sangha the chief exemplar of non-reciprocity (Tambiah I970: 68). It is a passive symbol of independence even as it depends upon active lay donors (dayakas). In this passive symbolic role, the sangha also exemplifies (and, of course, actively pursues) the dhamma and beyond this, Nibbana itself. In an active role, the sangha provides preachers, teachers, scholars and, in certain cases, healers. Note well, however, that none of these services is, strictly speaking, reciprocated cleanly to the laity for gifts given, but is an obligation, to some extent, freely assumed as appropriate to the new domesticated role of the sangha and its members. I shall argue that these relations constitute the basis of what is properly called a Buddhist culture or civilisation, and that they are in some sense the critical features of a domesticated sangha. Without the ritual relations described and alluded to here it is impossible to conceive of a Buddhist culture; similarly without these ritual relations, it is unlikely that any other aspect of domestication would be legitimate or indeed have been embarked on in the first place. A third set of relations defining the domestication of the sangha is its social relations with the outside world-kinship, status, caste and so on. Recent studies of the contemporary sangha (Bunnag I973) have shown the astounding degree to which normal social ascriptions (previous lay status, family privileges) still adhere to the supposedly withdrawn renouncer, man-outside-the-world. In Sri Lanka, there are even notorious cases of 'married' monks living with their family in the monastery itself (Carrithers I979: 298; Malalgoda I976: 26). Fourth comes the recently well-researched area of political relations traditionally established between royalty and the sangha. The sangha renounces political power and grants legitimacy to the ruler, while the king supports the sangha and establishes it in a privileged position within the realm, agreeing to rule according to the dhamma. The king also reserves the right to act to purify the
5 466 IVAN STRENSKI sangha and unify it if fragmented by internal strife; in return the king assumes the role of disciplinarian of monks found guilty of transgressing monastic laws (Vinaya). In the view of Tambiah (I973: I9) these political relations deserve special attention because they overshadow and encompass most other such relations typical of domestication. Any economic relations between sangha and laity would be conditioned by the political relations instituted in a particular Buddhist realm. It was in the context of royal grants (or sanction of grants) to the sangha that many of the economic relations between sangha and laity are situated. This brings us to the fifth and perhaps most 'salient' (Gunawardana I979: ) element of a domesticated sangha-economic relations between sangha and society. Domesticated sanghas not only take up residence, they may often possess property, the most problematic of which is land. It was Weber again who first called attention to this and made it the most visible feature of a domesticated sangha: monastic landlordism likewise became a defining characteristic of the feudalised sangha. As in many other aspects of the sangha's domestication, Weber's views here remain paramount, so much so that anyone explaining the transition from bhikkhusangha to feudal sangha must come to terms with the various relations in different Buddhist countries of the sangha to land ownership. In this connexion it is important to note that the relation to land ownership varies from country to country, yet it remains true that in each case we can refer to a domesticated sangha. One can speak of a range of relationships to land, from simple 'trusteeship'-no tenure, but perhaps the limited right to taxes levied on certain lands as in Burma and Thailand and for some Nikayas in Sri Lanka-to the classic Weberian case of tenure or 'monastic landlordism' in Sri Lanka, to the fullest expression of dominion over land in the Tibetan Buddhist lamaistic theocracy. This gradually increasing degree of land appropriation follows the gradually decreasing ability (or will) of particular political powers to intervene in the economic life of the sangha through the traditional right ofsa-sanavisodhana, purification of the sangha. Thus, in Burma and Thailand, a strong and regular pattern of royal sasana reform is correlated with the absence of land tenure on the part of the sangha and/or presence of, at most, an undeveloped system of monastic trusteeship. In Sri Lanka a weaker system of traditional royal interventions is correlated with the tendency to move from trusteeship through alienable to inalienable land held by the sangha. In Tibet, the sangha becomes royalty, so to speak, and assumes the traditional political role assigned to the lay kingship in other Buddhist countries. In summary, then, domestication is a process by and in which the sangha and laity enter into a complex variety of relationships: residential, ritual, social, political and economic. The significant fact is that those purporting to explain domestication generally confine their efforts to one of these, and then proceed as if all other relationships were either included within this one, were simple consequences of it or could be safely ignored. By far the most popular characterisation places the residential relation first in both describing and explaining the phenomenon of domestication; by far the most popular style of explanation here has been materialist. At a minimum, two
6 IVAN STRENSKI 467 classes of materialist explanation of domestication can be distinguished, each focusing on the explanation of the sangha's assumption of permanent residence: these comprise two kinds of environmental account and one demographic-ecological explanation. Explaining domestication Materialism. I call the two environmental explanations the Water and Fire Theories. The Water Theory, long associated with Dutt', states simply that the northeast Indian monsoon forced the early sangha to cease its wanderings for several months and seek permanent shelter from the rains, both for the purpose of self-preservation and to spare the lives of small animals straying about in the forests. In time, this forced the sangha to establish an annual retreat, leading inevitably to regular settlement. This then required property assigned for the use of the sangha alone. Everything else follows from this establishment of residence: with a residence fixed, the laity could easily locate and then gradually influence and become influenced by the sangha. Other relations characterising domestication, such as the social and political, can be seen to follow automatically from a closer physical and geographical relationship between laity and sangha. For instance, the social status system of a lay community is more likely to influence the sangha's own schemes as recruits from the lay community enter the sangha from well-known families in the immediate area. Residence defeats anonymity by increasing everyday familiarity. The Fire Theory holds that the threat or aftermath of war (or famine) caused domestication. Most writers holding this view use the case of first century B. C. Sri Lanka, usually citing the Mahavamsa's (35: 37-42, 98-IOI) account of the so-called sangha stabilisation (Malalgoda I976: I8-20; Rahula I956: I58). 'Stabilisation' simply indicates a regularisation of material support for the sangha in the form of revenues from lands, for example. During the famine and wars to which the island had been subjected around the end of the first millennium B. C., the sangha suffered a great hardship because of the disruption of the dana. Some monks migrated, many died of starvation and in some cases were victims of cannibalism (Rahula I956: 8i sq.). With the loss of the sangha the survival of the dhamma in Sri Lanka was itself threatened. Shortly thereafter, conferences were called in Sri Lanka, not only to endow the sangha with sources of support, but also to sponsor the writing down of the Tipitaka and its commentaries. At the same time a division of monastic labour in the sangha between the literati and the contemplatives was legitimated, and the somewhat parallel distinction between forest ascetics (arannavasin) and village monks (gamavasin) also became explicit. The balance of social prestige fell to the village monks and to the scholars who, as can easily be seen, were the agents and vanguard of the development of Buddhist civilisation. Another class of materialist explanation is implicit in Gunawardana's work and can be termed 'demographic' or 'ecological' (I979: 53, 56). Here the sheer density of the wandering monastic population causes settlement in order to avoid the ecological disaster of a kind of 'overgrazing' of the dana 'commons'
7 468 IVAN STRENSKI similar to that described by Hardin (I968). A relatively large number of bhikkhus (monks) competing for a limited quantity of available food (in the 'commons' of dana) creates a potential shortage, which in cases could be critical. In response local groups of monks would then 'enclose' their share of the 'commons' of dana (gift) within what have been called traditional monastic 'parish' boundaries or simas. Thereby they increase their chances of guaranteeing a sufficient and regular flow of dana for their own needs by securing what in some way is their private reserve of resources (Gunawardana I979: 53; Weber I958: 230). Romanticism. The only alternatives to these materialist explanations come from Weber himself (I958: ch. vii) and from both Carrithers (I979: 295-7, 307) and Tambiah (I976: I75). I identify this thesis as the romantic-fatalist view, because of its special marriage of affection for the pristine origin of things with the pathos of the inevitable decline and corruption that ensues once we move from the origins. This thesis conforms at least to what Buddhists of the Pall Canon seem to believe about themselves (Tambiah I976: I22, ch. 7). For Weber, early Buddhism was an 'unstructured' movement of religious virtuosi, whose charismatic authority provided a measure of unity for the early community (I958: 223). Soon after the death of the Buddha, Weber believes, the primitive community revolted against the 'aristocracy of charisma', (I958: 224), forced a 'fixing of forms' through an 'unavoidable discipline' of a system of 'rules' (I958: 2I6). For Weber there is something inevitable in this movement from charismatic to legal and bureaucratic authority characteristic of all social systems. Carrithers seems to share Weber's tragic sense but casts his views about early Buddhism's degeneration in the moral mode. He speaks of a 'gradual, unconscious, apparently inevitable, and in these senses, natural tendency for the sangha to become domesticated' (I979: 296). It is 'drawn to the values of everyday life' (I979: 307). Tambiah laments the 'all-too-human' tendencies towards corruption inherent in Buddhist monasticism. The sangha, he says, manifests the 'ever present threat' or 'propensities' to 'decline' (I976: I75). (See also Rahula: I ) Yet such views in the end do not explain anything. They are laments about the way things have turned out, appeals to the inevitability of certain 'trends' which themselves are plainly mysterious. Carrithers, Tambiah and Weber may thus be as unseeing as the Buddhists themselves about the reason things seem aimed in a downward ('domestic') direction. Simply saying things are getting bad does little to explain why they are getting bad; it just restates the problem as part of a larger general movement of decline. Moreover, even if such a general pattern of so-called decline could be demonstrated, we might want to keep an open mind about accepting the value perspective of the renouncer monk, with his concerns for maintaining personal spiritual purity, so well echoed in Weber's protestant sense of inevitable sinfulness and human depravity. Other perhaps equally early traditions (certain sects of the Mahayana) taught the higher moral impurity of the ascetic renouncers. For these traditions, it was the bodhisattva, not the arhat, who expressed the essence of Buddhist spirituality. That essence was social. In this light, looking on the domestication of the sangha as unavoidable decline is a little too much like looking at marriage as a concession to the weakness of the flesh:
8 IVAN STRENSKI 469 in both cases, we can see the sour face of the renouncer-ascetic frowning through. A non-romanti critique of materialist explanations. The leading assumption of materialist explanations of domestication is the general causal priority assigned to settled human residence. Once settled residence is explained, everything else falls into place. Thus, as long as the sangha travelled, domestication was automatically averted. But how much of this is true? In such discussions, one must keep alert to conceptual issues. As long as domestication means from the start something more than residential settlement, domestication may be compatible with peripatetic monasticism. Would a monk who maintained elaborate ritual relations with lay communities, who meddled in politics, who conformed to the status system of lay society and who perhaps trafficked in the exchange of goods and services be considered undomesticated simply because he maintained no fixed residence? To be sure, he might be considered less domesticated than one who did. But would he be any less so than the travelling salesman is considered less a full-blooded bourgeois than his settled counterpart? The answer is obvious. Similarly, the more one understands domestication in broadly social, rather than locative or physical senses, the more one tends to play down the residential conceptions and explanations of domestication. This goes hand in hand with the suspicion that even when one thinks of settled residence one is often thinking about such a notion as a kind of shorthand for a far more complex state of affairs, typically including social factors such as contract, exchange and so on. Reference to physical things often masks social relations. Let us, then, take a second look at statements of the residential thesis to see just how well they stand up. Here we may concentrate on the Water Theory, since, aside from Weber's attempts, it has been the most persistent candidate for explanations of domestication in the literature (Prebish I975). That domestication does not necessarily follow from the sangha's need to seek shelter during the rainy season seems clear. Such temporary residences need not have become permanent and even if they had become permanent, a sangha thus domiciled would not need to become domesticated in the full sense of the term. Other domesticated groups of renouncers, such as the Digambara Jains, have maintained their wandering, non-residential ways-even though they were thought to have originated the vassa retreat in the first place! Moreover, even when monks have settled in permanent domiciles, these may be very remote from settled human habitations and so constructed as to resist contact with ordinary lay people. I am thinking here of the modern-day (undomesticated) arannavasis of Sri Lanka as well as certain east Asian Buddhist sanghas (Korea) who keep pretty much to themselves on their own monastic compounds. In these cases, permanent settlement may actually be a way to avoid domestication; they become special reserved precincts to which monks may retreat from the world of social relations. At its strongest, the Water Theory might imply that these short (three-month) periods of settled residence tended to encourage contact with a single, regular community of lay devotees, and thus laid the necessary physical foundations for
9 470 IVAN STRENSKI domestication.2 The Buddha always warned against too close ties between monks and laity. Perhaps he warned against these things to forestall the rapid domestication which would follow such contacts. On the other hand, it still remains odd that many scholars hold that the vassa retreat would have contributed to domestication, since it was on the face of it at least (and still remains so) a way monks could very literally retreat from the social contacts that they had in the normal course of their peripatetic lives. Food, of course, still had to be found to sustain the monks gathered for retreat and regular arrangements be established between agents of the sangha and local dayakas. But in considering these wider aspects of the condition of the sangha during its vassa retreat we perhaps can perceive the seed upon which the crystal of domestication could grow: regular patterns of social relationships grow along with regular patterns of giving. Rather than focusing on the residences of the early sangha as permanent settled material dwellings, let us consider their being gifts. On this view, it is not so much that the material nature of monastic residences made them the agents of domestication as it was their status as gifts which in turn called forth certain social obligations. Among other things, the gift-nature of monastic residences would in some way account for the fact that settled residence was considered legitimate. From the days of Mauss's analysis of gift we are at least sensitive to the social dimension of giving. To introduce this alternative account of domestication based on the dynamic of gift exchange, an initial reconceptualisation of the idea of domestication will be required. Thus domestication is no fall, no decline in the fortunes of Buddhism; it is a legitimate and natural development of ancient strands of the Buddhist tradition. It ought then to be seen as part of the process of expressing and achieving certain Buddhist goals-in particular that of Buddhist culture, society or civilization (Ames I966: 32), or what Tambiah calls Buddhism as a 'world religion' (I976: i6). Domestication is first of all part of the formation process of Buddhist society, growing slowly into the early sangha itself, then expanding to embrace ever larger spheres (Gunawardana I979: 346 sq.). The problem of how domestication came about is, then, the problem of how Buddhist society was formed in the process of ritual giving. It is undeniable, I take it, that ritual giving sits squarely in the centre of the relation between the sangha and lay society. Giving defines the very relationship between the sangha and lay society: the monks are always receivers, the laity always givers. Yet why should giving occupy such a special place in the formation of the social solidarity we call Buddhist society, culture, civilisation and the like? Why, as Sahlins has suggested, is the gift the social contract (I972: ch. 4)? Ekeh (I974) has made the case that a persuasive answer to this question is to be found in Levi-Strauss's Elementary structures of kinship. Levi-Strauss there offers nothing less than a theory of social solidarity, couched in terms of gift exchange and kinship parlance. I argue that Levi-Strauss's theory may be applied to the formation of Buddhist society-to the domestication of the sangha.
10 IVAN STRENSKI 471 Exchange and social solidarity Levi-Strauss's (I969) problem is to explain the transition from a pre-social condition to one that is fully social. He begins by observing the universality of the incest taboo and law-like power of the rule of exogamy, two apparently different facts that are aspects of the same thing. The rule of exogamy-take a wife from outside one's own reference group-is reallyjust the other side of the incest taboo-do not take a wife from within. It is only when people form relations which cross the reference group boundary that we can speak of 'society'. All social groups must be wife-givers and wife-receivers, bound alliances established by the practice of exchange. This is why Levi-Strauss says not only that the incest taboo is common to every society, but that in some sense it is society: it reflects an obligation laid upon all human groups to give. Yet different forms of exchange have different consequences for durable social solidarity. 'Restricted exchange' operates on a simple quidpro quo basis; 'generalised exchange' establishes moral 'credit' (I969: 265), involving social risk and even speculation that the initial gift might never be returned. In a scheme of restricted exchange (hereafter RX) a transaction can be completed (this is what we often call reciprocity, cf. MacCormack I975). It operates hetween two parties, and essentially aims to achieve an equilibrium. The assumptions under which generalised exchange (hereafter GX) operates differ. GX seeks an unbalanced condition between exchange partners, which requires repayment at some unspecified time, typically by another group or person than the original receiver of the first gift: A gives to B who gives to C.... until A finally receives his due. Such a system circulates gifts in a scheme theoretically open to an indefinite number of members (cf. Damon I980). Pushed to its limit, GX approaches sacrifice, which I take to be outright giving in which no return is expected-partly because the gift is permanently alienated in some way, as by killing a victim, consuming it and so on. GX thus links its members in a theoretically open system of indebtedness, the momentum of which tends to build up systems of social solidarity. Parents give their children something of the same their parents gave them, and the children in turn will do likewise to theirs. Although children are expected to make returns (RX) to their parents, this reciprocity is not what makes society possible, even if it makes it civil; what makes society possible is the forward momentum of giving to children in the next generation. Society would quickly come to a civil though certain end if this were not so, and if one generation decided to forgo child-rearing or child-care in order to square its social debts with the previous generation (Ames I966: 33). I want to argue, at this juncture, that giving to the sangha ought to be interpreted much more as an instance of GX than RX (and also to some degree as sacrifice-sx): what has been labelled 'domestication' of the sangha is no more than the condition of the sangha within a system of GX. 'Domestication' simply names a process of the sangha's participation in a certain social solidarity. Thus, if gift-giving to the sangha in the spirit of GX is normal and natural to Buddhism, then so also is its consequent domestication. Let us take a brief look at the nature of the logic of dana given to the sangha in order to establish my claims about its identity as a species of GX.
11 472 IVAN STRENSKI Buddhist exchange. Perhaps the first thing one comes to appreciate is how treacherous exchange can be for a social formation of renouncer ascetics such as the sangha. If no qualification were placed upon the exchange between sangha and laity, the sangha would soon become laicised. A sangha which exchanged food given it for food it preferred would ipsofacto have taken the first plunge into merchandising; in the south Asian context, it would simply be another jati (caste) among others. (This happens in Sri Lanka at certain times: Gunawardana I979: 78). On the other hand, without exchange between sangha and laity, the sangha would either have to become economically (and in all other ways) self-sufficient, or would simply cease to exist. In the first case, the sangha would become close to a 'tribe'-thegana which Chattopadhyaya (I973), for example, thinks may have been a prototype of the sangha. Such a 'tribe' would then either need to reproduce its own membership (and become laicised thereby) or, if it maintained the rule of brahmacarya, would as now need to rely on a steady supply of recruits willing to accept a regimen in most respects like that of lay society but without sex and marriage. Here, mutatis mutandis, the Shakers come to mind, as do the more self-contained, self-sufficient Buddhist monastic communities of east Asia. In this case, the durability of such communities as the Shakers is doubtful and the degree to which Buddhist communities of the self-contained type can be said to contribute to the type of Buddhist culture found in south Asia is equally dubious. If the alternatives of unqualified exchange and no exchange lead to dead-ends, then perhaps we can understand why and how the laity and sangha entered into relations of qualified exchange. If exchange relations are left unqualified, the sangha tends toward laicisation; if exchange is denied, the sangha becomes laicised by another route or ceases to exist. Let us then examine aspects of the qualified exchange relations obtaining between the sangha and lay society with an eye for the special role of generalised exchange, hoping in this way to see how domestication of the sangha occurs according to natural Buddhist processes of giving to the sangha. Restricted exchange and Buddhism. RX between the sangha and laity is problematic, primarily because the bhikkhu is supposed to be a paradigm of non-reciprocity.3 For this reason, RXs proceed in a Buddhist setting under what may seem unusual circumstances-almost as if reciprocity itself were at the same time being denied. For instance, RXs begin with a gift from a dayaka to a monk or to the sangha. In return the sangha (or monk) seems to perform certain rituals for lay benefit, preach the dhamma, maintain a conspicuous exemplary standard of public moral purity, and make itself accessible as an occasion of merit-making. But at the same time as the sangha seems to bind itself to make a contract, at the same time as it seems to cooperate in its own domestication by entering into relationships with the laity, it asserts its independence from reciprocity (Ames I966: 30 sq.). Bhikkhus often delay performances of rituals until some days after the relevant gifts have been given (Tambiah I970: 348); at other times, the rituals are performed before the giving of gifts (Tambiah I970: 347). Moreover, the sangha teaches that merit (punna), which many pious Buddhists believe is chiefly what they get from the sangha in exchange for their gifts, is not actually given
12 IVAN STRENSKI 473 them in return for the dana given the sangha. The sangha is an occasion of merit, as the scriptures put it a 'field of merit' (Spiro I970: 280, 4I0), it is not its origin; much less is it a private reserve to distribute to the worthy (Ames I966: 3I sq.).4 But despite these attempts to escape reciprocity, it can be seen how these gift RXs constitute at least one relation making up domestication. The sangha now maintains ritual relations with the laity (Tambiah I970: I43). Ritual relations, in turn, then can be seen to ground either permanent residence or regular pernpatesis and not the other way round: the monks must be accessible if they are to fulfil their ritual obligations created by their reception of gifts. In fact, Dutt (I962: 26, n. i) notes that in the Milindapaniho, Nagasena defends the monks' living in monasteries on the grounds that it would make it easier for the laity to visit them. Even though solitude is good, Nagasena suggests that access to the bhikkhus weighs in the balance for laity. The same pattern of RX would also seem to exist in the relationship between the sangha and the polity: the king protects the sangha, agrees to rule according to dhamma and assumes the responsibility of purifying it; while the sangha agrees to remain directly uninvolved in politics and conform to the laws of the realm. Yet although we can see domestication and Buddhist civilisation to some degree built up on these patterns of reciprocity (RX), other patterns of exchange (GX) can be discerned in the sangha's relationship with society at large. These constitute some of the more troubling instances of exchange as well as some of the more splendid. The point here, however, is to analyse a style of exchange which both avoids the appearance and substance of reciprocity and expresses more durable and inclusive patterns of relationship. Let us see to what extent this perspective helps us here in understanding the nature of the domestication of the sangha. Generalised exchange and Buddhism. There are any number of patterns of GX discernible in the relations between the sangha and lay society. For brevity's sake, let us consider three cases: (i) the sangha engages in economic GX when it receives productive lands or other durable items, and then proceeds to manage them as estates or profitable enterprises which 'trickle down' to enrich the whole society at large; (2) the sangha engages in social GX when it receives durable or perishable goods and services, which it then converts into moral or cultural 'currency'(art, philosophy, literature, ideology) for circulation within society at large and to posterity in general; (3) the sangha finally participates in a scheme of spiritual GX when it receives gifts within the context of merit-making, and offers for others the occasion to make merit by rejoicing in merit earned by pious dayakas. In each case, we have a circle of giving beginning with the lay dayaka, passing to the sangha, then from the sangha to other recipients, and ultimately, it can be argued, either in this or the next life to the initial giver. Thus the sangha does not necessarily reciprocate to the dayaka for gifts given (least of all merit!) but instead acts to benefit a third party, which in turn eventually brings benefit back to the original donor. In some cases, where a 'trickle down' effect might occur, people would enjoy the same economic benefits any profitable estate would provide to
13 474 IVAN STRENSKI the community at large. Perhaps Buddhist monasteries in south and southeast Asia acted as agents of economic development in much the same way as the monastic foundations of medieval Europe (Twitchett I956; I957; Wright I957). The sangha also acted as an agent of cultural and ideological development in so far as it functioned as an educational institution, as a patron of the arts, as a focal point for the articulate self-consciousness of national identity and so on. In the strictly spiritual vein, the sangha also played a special role in structuring the ideology of merit-making in a Buddhist manner. Rather than considering merit-making and the so-called transfer of merit a matter of spiritual accounting, we have something quite different: a dayaka gives dana to the sangha and thereby (automatically) earns merit (remembering all the while that this is not given the dayaka by the sangha, only 'occasioned' by it); in turn the sangha then invites the dayaka to invite others (the dead, the gods) to rejoice in the merit earned. The sangha gives an occasion for others to rejoice in the merit made by the first gift, and thus gain merit thereby (Gombrich I97I: 226 sq.). I emphasise the spirit of the orthodox theory of merit-making because it tells us so much about what the leading values of a Buddhist society ought to be. Yet when most students of Theravada think about the phenomenon of meritmaking, they tend to see in it only a crass calculus of spiritual merits and demerits. Theravada folk theory and practice do little to discourage this judgement. No wonder some scholars even see in this rationalised system of spiritual balances a wonderful pre-capitalist anticipation of elements of economic ideology. They may even be right, though they will have missed understanding what morally makes a Buddhist civilisation. It is important, then, to penetrate behind the behaviour of merit-making Buddhists to what orthodox parties within Buddhist society have tried to insist would be an aspect of their vision of a Buddhist culture. When we do, it is stunning how the tenor of merit-making changes, from one in which RX seems to dominate to one in which GX does. Meritorious deeds still produce merit, it is true, but they do so within a different moral environment. Instead of seeing merit-making as a simple RX between dayaka and sangha, with the added feature of a 'credit transfer' to another person, the orthodox theory sees the meritorious giving of dana to the sangha as a normal part of pious Buddhist life which, it may or may not be understood, circulates wealth through the sangha for the benefit of all. Strictly speaking there is also no merit-transfer, for reasons discussed earlier. Rather, in so far as merit may be said to be 'shared' it is actually an occasion for merit-making that is made available to persons invited for the purpose of rejoicing in the merit initially earned. Buddhist culture, in so far as its tenor is affected by the orthodox spirit of merit-making and sympathetic rejoicing, presents a rather edifying picture of persons seeking virtue and offering their fellows the occasion to rejoice in that virtue. Here is no Buddhist ethic ready-made to do service for the budding spirit of a native capitalism-even if it may be an ethical prerequisite of the formation of a great civilisation. Generations of Buddhists dead and alive are in this way linked in a cycle of sympathy for the spiritual progress of one another; one gives to the other the occasion for greater virtue in a pattern identified earlier as GX.
14 IVAN STRENSKI 475 Sacrifice? Let me close with a note on sacrifice. How may we integrate the fact that all gifts to the sangha are said to be absolutely alienated, and thus according to some scholars 'doctrinally a sacrifice' (Tambiah I970: 2I3; Spiro I970:I07)?W The issue is critical for this discussion: to the extent that gifts to the sangha are 'sacrifices', they are ipso facto removed from systems of exchange. Perishable gifts cannot even be returned to the laity as prasad or 'communion'; the same goes for offerings made to the image of the Buddha. What remains, after the sangha has consumed its share of gift food, becomes refuse (Gombrich I97I: II9 sq.). Durable gifts cannot be reciprocated; nor can they become refuse and 'go away'. Thus they accumulate and become the material stuff of monastic estates and monastic domestication. On this point, a Marxist might say that because durable goods are alienated by the sangha, it becomes domesticated: it shares the same relation to the mode of production as does any other property-holder in an agrarian society. In this sense, it is not so much moral obligation arising out of participation in a scheme of generalised gift-exchange that domesticates the sangha, as it is the sangha's ownership of productive land-its participation in agrarian production. Not Mauss then but Marx may have the last word. It is not clear, however, that Buddhist dana is a sacrifice in the sense required to qualify for Marx's analysis of alienation. Although gifts to the sangha are given in the spirit of the free gift (Tambiah I970: 2I3), although they may be seen to disappear into the 'mouth' of the sangha, so to speak, they can equally well be seen to enter a cycle of exchange through the sangha to others and back again eventually to the original dayaka. But since these cycles may be quite long-long in the way kinship or systems of generalised ceremonial exchange are long-it may seem to the original dayaka that his gift is freely given, without reciprocal return, and hence a 'sacrifice'. That the Buddhist doctrine of rebirth and karma theoretically guarantees some 'return' on a dayaka's moral 'investment' is indubitably orthodox; that orthodoxy tries to discourage spiritual greed explains why Buddhist dana has the spirit of sacrifice rather than RX. But then that spirit is just what Levi-Strauss claims GX uniquely possesses. Without doing away with the idea of the promise of return, GX liberates gift-giving from petty calculation. It does this by appearing to be sacrifice. This becomes a real problem for the sangha when the gifts are durable (as with land and recruits). For the sangha cannot simply dispose of durable properties the way it can surplus rice: land will not just 'go away'. In periods of Burmese history, the alienation of manpower to the sangha in the form of recruits created such serious shortages that the Burmese kings are thought often to have exercised their prerogatives to purify the sangha in order to mask their simple economic and political desire to increase the pool of available manpower in the realm (Aung Thwin I979). Thus in so far as the sangha did not place its durable wealth sufficiently at the disposal of society at large, and in so far as the sangha refused to enter systems of exchange, it risked these inevitable royal, so-called, 'purifications'. Wherever wealth accumulates, human economic interest will eventually focus. We know of only one case where the sangha has with success exclusively represented these influences-tibet. In this sense we may even look at the monastic landlordism of Sri Lanka as a way of escaping the horrors of
15 476 IVAN STRENSKI simple accumulation which would befall the sangha if it simply accepted gifts of land and did nothing with them. Perhaps monastic landlordism represents a middle way between the extremes of letting accumulated land go unused and selling it as fast as it comes to the sangha. It is a middle path in so far as it places land into socially productive schemes as a source of wealth. At any rate, a sacrificial element can be found in Buddhist giving, even if it may be there more in appearance than in reality. What matters is that extent to which dana appears to be sacrifice would make a difference to the tenor and symbolic nature of Buddhist giving. I suggest that giving in the Buddhist context may be seen from several perspectives, some competing, but some complementary. Sacrificial giving (SX) might then be seen to contribute something to the nature of ritual exchange in Theravada which RX and GX are not able to contribute. For instance, if we take RX and GX (in particular the latter) to describe synchronic systems of relationship on a given plane of Buddhist society, then perhaps SX might be seen to provide a vector directing the desired trajectory of any given Buddhist society. GX patterns describe the network making up society; SX tells us the direction of the whole. Indeed, civilisation or society has never for Buddhists been an end in itself; it is itself to be transcended, and that transcendence is nowhere better symbolised than in the primary Nibbana-questing activity of the sangha. It is to hold out a model of a society moving in spiralling circles of generosity and sympatheticjoy, circles themselves aimed in a definite direction beyond, along the route to Nibbana. NOTES 1 One should, however, note that Dutt's view cannot simply be reduced to Water Theory-even if that is what most writers have tended to take from him. For Dutt, social reciprocity and interdependence between monks and laity are also significant factors in the domestication of the sangha. One aim in the present article is to rehabilitate that part of Dutt's view. 2 In an unpublished paper, 'Reflections of the Rainy Season,' H. L. Seneviratne has outlined an argument for the social importance of the rainy reason retreat consistent with that here. 3 Tambiah I970: 68. But compare I970: 2I3 where Tambiah affirms reciprocity behind the 'double negation' of it! 4 The main reason for this theoretical inability of the sangha to 'give' merit is because merit is not, strictly speaking, a thing at all. Merit is a relationship of being in a higher karmic state. Karma is also similarly not a thing, but is itself merely a principle of moral causality. To have gained merit then is simply to have acted in karmically good ways-to have done those acts which produce good karmic effects. Moreover, since Buddhist morality is governed by intention, the karmic quality of acts is always bound up with the good or ill will of moral agents. The chain of causality linking intention, act and karmic quality is perfectly objective, and in a way mechanical. Only the equally objective spiritual status of the sangha affects the quality of karmic benefit to a dayaka. Strictly speaking, the sangha can only give occasions for others to do meritorious acts, to perform deeds deemed karmically beneficial. The sangha does not and cannot give merit to its dayakas for dana given any more than it can give someone virtue for having been virtuous. The matter is independent from what the sangha may want. 5 However, Spiro reduces sacrifice to the psychological act of a donor's 'genuine deprivation' (I970: I07); while Tambiah takes sacrifice merely to be non-reciprocal giving (I970: 2I3). Thus, Spiro's remarks avoid the sociological and cultural dimension of sacrifice, while Tambiah's fall to locate sacrificial giving within the wider context of exchange in general.
16 IVAN STRENSKI 477 REFERENCES Ames, M. I966. Ritual prestations and the structure of the Sinhalese pantheon. In Anthropological studies in Theravdda Buddhism (eds) M. Nash et al. New Haven: Southeast Asia Studies. Aung Thwin, M. I979. The role of Sansana reform in Burmese history: economic dimensions of a religious purification.j. Asian Stud. 38, 67I-88. Bunnag, J. I973. Buddhist monk, Buddist layman. Cambridge: Univ. Press. Carrithers, M. I979. The modern ascetics of Lanka and the pattern of change in Buddhism. Man (N. S.) 14, I0. I980. Reply to letter of S. E. G. Kemper. Man (N.S.) I5, I95-6. Chattopadhayaya, D. B. I973. Some problems of early Buddhism. In Buddhism: the Marxist approach (eds) R. Sankrityayan et al. New Delhi: People's Publishing House. Damon, F. I980. The Kula and generallsed exchange: considering some unconsidered aspects of the Elementary structures of kinship. Man (N. S.) 15, Dumont, L. I970. World renunciation in Indian religions. In Religion, politics and history in India (ed.) L. Dumont. Paris: Mouton. Dutt, S. I962. Buddhist monasteries of India. London: Allen & Unwin. Ekeh, P. I974. Social exchange theory: two traditions. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press. Gombrich, R. I97I. Precept and practice. London: Oxford Univ. Press. Gregory, C. A. I980. Gifts to men and gifts to god: gift exchange and capital accumulation in contemporary Papua. Man (N.S.) I5, Gunawardana, R. A. L. H. I979. Robe and plow: monasticism and economic interest in early medieval Sri Lanka. Tucson: Univ. of Arizona Press. Hardin, G. I968. The tragedy of the commons. Science I62, I Levi-Strauss, C. I969. The elementary structures of kinship. Boston: Beacon. Malalgoda, K. I976. Buddhism in Sinhalese society: Berkeley: Univ. of Calhfornia Press. MacCormack, G. I975. Reciprocity. Man (N.S.) II, 89-I03. Prebish, C. S. I975. Buddhist monastic discipline. University Park: Pennsylvania Univ. Press. Rahula, W. I956. A history of Buddhism in Ceylon: the Anuradhapura period-lo Century AC. Colombo: Gunasena. Sahlins, M. I972. Stone age economics. Chicago; Univ. of Chicago Press. Spiro, M. I970. Buddhism and society. New York: Harper & Row. Tambiah, S. J. I970. Buddhism and the spirit cults of north-east Thailand. Cambridge: Univ. Press. I973. Buddhism and this-worldly activity. Mod. Asian Stud. 7, I-20. I976. World conqueror and world renouncer. Cambridge: Univ. Press. Twitchett, D. C. I956. Monastic estates in T'ang China. Asia Major 5, I I957. Monasteries in China's economy in medieval times. Bull. Sch. orient. Afr. Stud. I9, Weber, M. I958. The religion of India. New York: Free Press. Wright, A. F. I957. The economic role of Buddhism in China. J. Asian Stud. I6, 408-I4.
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115 FAITH AND FAMILY Mary Eberstadt, How the West Really Lost God. West Conshohocken: Templeton Press, 2013. Mary Eberstadt is a social commentator, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, and a senior
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Jews Metropolitan Tel Aviv, with 2.5 million Jews, is the world's largest Jewish city. It is followed by New York, with 1.9 million, Haifa 655,000, Los Angeles 621,000, Jerusalem 570,000, and southeast
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