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

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


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


The war in Sri Lanka was violent and costly in human and material terms. This was one of the longest wars in modern South Asia. Often referred to as an ‘ethnic’ conflict between the majority Sinhalas and the minority Tamils, the war had a profound religious dimension. The majority of Sinhala Buddhist monks (the Saṅgha) not only opposed any meaningful powersharing but latterly advocated an all-out military solution. Such a nexus between Buddhism and violence is paradoxical; nevertheless it has a historical continuity. In 2009 when the war ended amid serious questions of war crimes and crimes against humanity, monks defended the military and its Buddhist leadership. Taking the lives of three key Saṅgha activists as the modern framework of a Sinhala Buddhist worldview, this book examines the limitations of Western theories of peacebuilding and such solutions as federalism and multinationalism. It analyzes Sinhala Buddhist ethnoreligious nationalism and argues for the urgent need to engage Buddhist politics – in Lanka and elsewhere – with approaches and mechanisms that accommodate the Saṅgha as key actors in political reform. Sinhala Buddhism is often studied from a sociological or anthropological standpoint. This book fills a gap by examining the faith and practice of the Sinhala Saṅgha and their followers from a political science perspective.

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Raghavan, Suren . Epilogue. Buddhist Monks and the Politics of Lanka's Civil War. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 203-204 Apr 2016. ISBN 9781781795743. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=24505. Date accessed: 25 Jul 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.24505. Apr 2016

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