Buddhist Monks and the Politics of Lanka's Civil War - Suren Raghavan

Buddhist Monks and the Politics of Lanka's Civil War - Suren Raghavan

The Social and Political role of the Saṅgha in Lanka

Buddhist Monks and the Politics of Lanka's Civil War - Suren Raghavan

Suren Raghavan [+-]
University of Oxford
Suren Rāghavan Ph.D. is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Buddhist Studies – Wolfson College University of Oxford and a visiting professor at St Paul University Ottawa- Canada. He turned to academic research after extensive fieldwork in peacebuilding in Sri Lanka during its thirty years of civil war. His multilingual expertise, bi-ethnic background and lifelong studies of Sinhala Buddhist society have provided a rare position for an in-depth and unique analysis of the Sinhalas, the war and especially the historical role of the Mahā Saṅgha, – Buddhist Monks. Rāghavan won the first Asian award for Political Studies from James Madison Trust in 2005. He won the British Government Overseas Research Scholars Award in 2008 and the Swiss Federal Government Scholarship for Minority Studies in 2011. His current research includes the role of religions in post-conflicts democratization, critical religion analysis of Buddhism and textual deconstruction of the Mahāvaṃsa

Description

This chapter examines the history of Buddhism and key texts alongside developments in Lankan history to try to define the nature of of the society of Buddha and to trace some of the strands defining the relationship between the Buddhist movement and political governance through the centuries. In seeking to seek to map the institutionalization of the Buddhist order and the resultant political powers this process created in Lanka, the chapter asks whether early Buddhism outlined and effected an alternative power arrangement to existing modes prevalent at the time. Finally, through detailed analysis, the chapter concludes that the evolution of the self-understanding of the Saṅgha in Lanka went through four major phases: 1. From the Pāli Tripiṭaka teaching to the Mahāvaṃsic outlook (from 300 BCE to 500 CE), 2. from monastic worldview (Lokottara) to social worldview (Laukika) (500 CE to 1700), 3. from a universalistic, open outlook to an ethnic and caste orientation, (1700–1900), and finally 4. from being supporters of political groups and policies to direct political engagement (1900–2010).

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Citation

Raghavan, Suren . The Social and Political role of the Saṅgha in Lanka. Buddhist Monks and the Politics of Lanka's Civil War. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 43-89 Apr 2016. ISBN 9781781795743. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=24502. Date accessed: 20 Jul 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.24502. Apr 2016

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