Devas, Demons and Buddhist Cosmology in Sri Lanka : Apotheosis and the Spiritual Progression of Hūniyam book cover
1st Edition

Devas, Demons and Buddhist Cosmology in Sri Lanka
Apotheosis and the Spiritual Progression of Hūniyam

ISBN 9781032192666
Published August 19, 2022 by Routledge
172 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book examines the worship of devas and demons in Sri Lanka, illustrating how diverse influences interacted to create the Sinhala Buddhist cosmology.

The work explains the processes by which apotheosis plays an important role in revitalizing that cosmology. The author offers an examination of holy sites associated with the worship of Hūniyam. These sacred spaces each have a unique background historically, and the ritualists associated with these sites have divergent understandings concerning Hūniyam. Building upon the examination of the temples, the book delves into the iconography of Hūniyam, illustrating his transformation from demon to deity in the manner that he is depicted in imagery associated with his worship. The book moves to a discussion of Aritṭ ạ Kivenḍu Perumāl, a South Indian adventurer, demonstrating the likelihood that he is the historical figure later apotheosized as Hūniyam. Sri Lankan society felt his impact so strongly that in death he became a demon in the Sinhala Buddhist cosmology. Finally, the book demonstrates that the same apotheosis processes are at work today.

This book will be of interest to researchers and students engaged in the study of religion, anthropology, folklore, and history, specifically in the South Asian context.

Table of Contents

List of illustrations



1 Deva and demon worship in Sri Lanka

2 Temples, shrines, and sacred spaces of Hūniyam

3 Iconography of Hūniyam

4 Historical context

5 European colonialism versus the indigenous kingdoms

6 From British hegemony to the modern era

7 The potential apotheosis of Mahinda Rājapakṣa

8 Hūniyam as an invader

9 Conclusion



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Achala Gunasekara-Rockwell is the assistant editor of the US Department of the Air Force’s Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs. She also serves as an adjunct assistant professor for the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Troy University, USA. She received her PhD in Languages and Cultures of Asia from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.