Buddhism, Power and Political Order

Ian Charles Harris
Publish Place: 
New York
Publish Year: 
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Weber's claim that Buddhism is an otherworldly religion is only partially true. Early sources indicate that the Buddha was sometimes diverted from supramundane interests to dwell on a variety of politically-related matters. The significance of Asoka Maurya as a paradigm for later traditions of Buddhist kingship is also well-attested. However, there has been little scholarly effort to integrate findings on the extent to which Buddhism interacted with the political order in the classical and modern states of Theravada Asia into a wider, comparative study.

This volume brings together the brightest minds in the study of Buddhism in Southeast Asia. Their contributions create a more coherent account of the relations between Buddhism and political order in the late pre-modern and modern period by questioning the contested relationship between monastic and secular power. In doing so, they expand the very nature of what is known as the 'Theravada'.