Alice Collett, "Lives of Early Buddhist Nuns: Biographies as History" (Oxford UP, 2016)


Dr. Alice Collett’s monograph Lives of Early Buddhist Nuns: Biographies as History (Oxford University Press, 2016) delves into the lives of six of the best-known nuns from the period of early Buddhism: Dhammadinnā, Khemā, Kisāgotamī, Paṭācārā, Bhaddā Kuṇḍalakesā, and Uppalavaṇṇā, all of whom are said to have been direct disciples of the historical Buddha. Collett does the thankless task of sorting through the biographical information scattered throughout the canonical and commentarial literature to present a richly textured account of the these six extraordinary women’s lives. She further analyzes the differences between the various biographical accounts to glean historical information about the position of women and changing gender relations in the early centuries of Buddhism in India. One of the main contributions of her monograph is the finding that women were treated more favorably in the Pāli Canon than is commonly presented. She also gains insight into an impressive number of other themes ranging from notions of beauty and bodily adornment, to family, class, and marriage. This book is sure to be of value to a wide audience, especially those interested in women in Buddhism, early Buddhism and early Indian society.

Alex Carroll studies Buddhist Studies at the University of South Wales and is primarily interested in Theravāda and early Buddhism. He lives in Oslo, Norway and can be reached via his website here.

Your Host

Alex Carroll

View Profile