Religions of South Asia, Vol 3, No 1 (2009)

Somā the Learned Brahmin

Alice Collett
Issued Date: 22 May 2010

Abstract


Somā is a female disciple of Gotama Buddha known from various early Indian Buddhist sources. In the story of Somā in the Avadānaśataka, prior to her conversion to Buddhism she gains access to the three Vedas and becomes a learned Brahmin in her region. In this article, as well as providing an English translation of Somā's story in the Avadānaśataka, I discuss this account of Somā the learned Brahmin and attempt to discern the basis for a Buddhist narrative representation of a female learned Brahmin. In this account, a Buddhist story which seeks to demonstrate the natural superiority of Buddhism over Brahmanism, the female Somā takes the place usually reserved, in similar accounts, for learned male Brahmins.

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DOI: 10.1558/rosa.v3i1.93

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