The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia: Second Edition

The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia: Second Edition

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This book is a unique synthesis and empathetic interpretation of the many facets of Buddhism in Southeast Asia with a particular focus on Thailand. It integrates a kaleidoscopic picture of Buddhism in the region with scholarly interpretation and first-person portrayal. The author focuses his study of Theravada Buddhism in Southeast Asia as a dynamic, complex system of thought and practice embedded in the respective cultures, societies, and histories of Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka.

The book analyzes three distinct but interrelated aspects of this system. The first is the popular tradition, in terms of life models personified in traditional myths and legends, rites of passage, festival celebrations, and ritual occasions. The second is Buddhism and the state, in terms of the paradigmatic influence of Asoka on conceptions of Buddhist kingship, the symbiotic relationship between Southeast Asian kingship and sacred cosmology, the Buddha as cosmocrator, and the rise of charismatic Buddhist political leaders in the postcolonial period. The third is modern transformations of Buddhism, in terms of the changing roles of the monk and laity, modern reform movements, the role of women, and Buddhism and the West.

This second edition of The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia includes numerous additions and changes throughout, particularly developments that have occurred within the Buddhist world of Southeast Asia since 1995. The bibliography and notes have also been significantly updated and expanded.