3. Buddhist Awareness as a Means to Unveil the Past and Emancipate the Future: The Buddhist Awareness Camps Project in post-1990 Nepal

Teaching Awareness in the Buddhist Tradition - Essays in Honour of Professor Corrado Pensa - Chiara Neri

Chiara Letizia [+-]
Université du Québec à Montréal
Professor of South Asian Religions at the University of Québec in Montréal, Canada. She is a research associate at the School of Anthropology & Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford and an associate member of the Centre for Himalayan Studies of the CNRS.

Description

This paper deals with the theme of this book, Buddhist awareness, from a particular point of view and perhaps in an eccentric way. The context is the arrival of a modernist Theravada Buddhism in the Kathmandu Valley in the 1920s, which involved a reform of the local Newar Buddhism, and the missionary work of Newar Theravada monks and laypeople some seventy years later. They were involved in campaigns to have the religious diversity of Nepal recognized by what was then a Hindu state, and they wanted to increase the number of Buddhists in the national census. Thus, they started spreading Buddhism among other Nepalese ethnic groups. Their work was met with interest by intellectuals belonging to the Tharu and Magar ethnic groups who were involved in their own ethnic activism and claims against the Hindu state. This synergy led to the organization of Buddhist Awareness Camps, where Buddhist teachings with a modernist and engaged flavour mixed with ethnic and political activism. In this paper, I will focus on the ways the notion of “Buddhist awareness” was used and understood in the discourses of these activists: awakening and unveiling the memory of a forgotten Buddhist past, and emphasizing the value of Buddhist teachings and soteriological path as a means of achieving the social emancipation of their respective ethnic group.

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Citation

Letizia, Chiara. 3. Buddhist Awareness as a Means to Unveil the Past and Emancipate the Future: The Buddhist Awareness Camps Project in post-1990 Nepal. Teaching Awareness in the Buddhist Tradition - Essays in Honour of Professor Corrado Pensa. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Aug 2023. ISBN 9781800503311. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=44242. Date accessed: 08 Dec 2022 doi: 10.1558/equinox.44242. Aug 2023

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