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'.
Buddhism, Power and Political Order offers new insights for scholars of Buddhism, and it will stimulate new debates.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction - Buddhism, Power and Politics in Theravada Buddhist Lands Ian Harris 2. Idealism and Pragmatism: A Dilemma in the Current Monastic Education Systems of Burma and Thailand Khammai Dhammasami 3. Rajadhamma Confronts Leviathan: Burmese Political Theory in the 1870s Andrew Huxley 4. Colonial Knowledge and Buddhist Education in Burma Juliane Schober 5. Reconstructing the Cambodian Polity: Buddhism, Kingship and the Quest for Legitimacy Peter Gyallay-Pap 6. The Cambodian Hospital for Monks John Marston 7. Buddhism, Power, and Political Order in pre-Twentieth Century Laos Volker Grabowsky 8. Past, Present, and Future in Buddhist Prophetic Literature of the Lao Peter Koret 9. In Defence of the Nation: The Cult of Nang Thoranee in Northeast Thailand Elizabeth Guthrie 10. King, Sangha, and Brahmans: Ideology, Ritual, and Power in Pre-modern Siam Peter Skilling
Ian Harris is Professor of Buddhist Studies at University College of St. Martin, Lancaster and was Senior Scholar at the Becket Institute, St. Hugh's College, University of Oxford from 2001-4. He is co-founder of the UK Association for Buddhist Studies and has written widely on aspects of Buddhist ethics. His most recent book is Cambodian Buddhism: History and Practice (2005) and he is currently responsible for a research project on Buddhism and Cambodian Communism at the Documentation Center of Cambodia [DC-Cam], Phnom Penh.
[Harris] and his contributors go beyond Weberian and Marxist approaches to reveal the complexity and tensions in the Sangha–state relationship throughout the region. . . . it is the way these tensions and complexities are highlighted in nearly every chapter that makes this collection a must-read for scholars in the field or anyone concerned with the relationship between religion and political power in Asia. - Justin McDaniel, University of California at Riverside, Religious Studies Review, Vol. 35, Issue 2, June, 2009