In Buddhist thought and practice, death has always been a central concept. This book provides a careful and thorough analysis of the rituals and social customs surrounding death in the Theravada tradition of Sri Lanka.
Rita Langer describes the rituals of death and rebirth and investigates their ancient origins, analyzing social issues of the relationship between monks and lay people in this context. This aspect is of particular interest as death rituals are the only life cycle ritual in which Theravada Buddhist monks are actively involved. Drawing on early Vedic sutras and Pali texts as well as archaeological and epigraphical material, Buddhist Rituals of Death and Rebirth establishes that Sri Lankan rituals are deeply rooted in their pre-Buddhist, Vedic precursors. Whilst beliefs and doctrines have undergone considerable changes over the centuries, it becomes evident that the underlying practices have largely remained stable.
The first comprehensive study of death rituals in Theravada Buddhist practice, this is an important contribution to the fields of Buddhist studies, indology, anthropology and religious studies.
Introduction Part 1 Death and Dying 1.1 Contemporary Sri Lankan Practice 1.2 Commentary to the Practice 1.3 Some Historical Roots: Time of Death Part 2 Funeral 2.1 Contemporary Sri Lankan Practice 2.2 Commentary to the Practice 2.3 Some Historical Roots: Handling the Remains Part 3 Post-Funerary Rites 3.1 Contemporary Sri Lankan Practice 3.2 Commentary to the Practice 3.3 Some Historical Roots: Giving of Merit. Conclusions.
Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism is a comprehensive study of the Buddhist tradition. The series explores this complex and extensive tradition from a variety of perspectives, using a range of different methodologies. The series is diverse in its focus, including historical, philological, cultural, and sociological investigations into the manifold features and expressions of Buddhism worldwide. It also presents works of constructive and reflective analysis, including the role of Buddhist thought and scholarship in a contemporary, critical context and in the light of current social issues. The series is expansive and imaginative in scope, spanning more than two and a half millennia of Buddhist history. It is receptive to all research works that are of significance and interest to the broader field of Buddhist Studies.
Some of the titles in the series are published in association with the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, which conducts and promotes rigorous teaching and research into all forms of the Buddhist tradition.
Editorial Advisory Board:
James A. Benn, McMaster University, Canada
Jinhua Chen, The University of British Columbia, Canada
Rupert Gethin, University of Bristol, UK
Peter Harvey, University of Sunderland, UK
Sallie King, James Madison University, USA
Anne Klein, Rice University, USA
Lori Meeks, University of Southern California, USA;
Ulrich Pagel, School of Oriental and African Studies, UK
John Powers, Australian National University, Australia;
Juliane Schober, Arizona State University, USA
Vesna A. Wallace, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA
Michael Zimmermann, University of Hamburg, Germany