In Defense of Dharma: Just-War Ideology in Buddhist Sri Lanka, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

In Defense of Dharma

Just-War Ideology in Buddhist Sri Lanka, 1st Edition

By Tessa J. Bartholomeusz


232 pages

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pub: 2002-08-22
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This is the first book to examine war and violence in Sri Lanka through the lens of cross-cultural studies on just-war tradition and theory. In a study that is textual, historical and anthropological, it is argued that the ongoing Sinhala-Tamil conflict is in actual practice often justified by a resort to religious stories that allow for war when Buddhism is in peril. Though Buddhism is commonly assumed to be a religion that never allows for war, this study suggests otherwise, thereby bringing Buddhism into the ethical dialogue on religion and war. Without a realistic consideration of just-war thinking in contemporary Sri Lanka, it will remain impossible to understand the power of religion there to create both peace and war.


'Bartholomeusz's provocative book explores the arguements for and against the justice of war in the Buddhist tradition of Sri Lanka. This interdisciplinary work analyzes Buddhist ideas in relation to western just war and ethical theory.' - Journal of Military Ethics 2003

About the Author

Tessa J. Bartholomeusz was Professor of Religion at the Florida State University, Tallahasee. Her work concentrated on gender, religious identity and most recently, on Buddhism in America.

About the Series

Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism

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

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Asia / Southeast Asia
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General