Routledge Handbook of Theravāda Buddhism  book cover
1st Edition

Routledge Handbook of Theravāda Buddhism

ISBN 9781138493933
Published March 17, 2022 by Routledge
394 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $250.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Among one of the older subfields in Buddhist Studies, the study of Theravāda Buddhism is undergoing a revival by contemporary scholars who are revising long-held conventional views of the tradition while undertaking new approaches and engaging new subject matter. The term Theravāda has been refined, and research has expanded beyond the analysis of canonical texts to examine contemporary cultural forms, social movements linked with meditation practices, material culture, and vernacular language texts. The Routledge Handbook of Theravāda Buddhism illustrates the growth and new directions of scholarship in the study of Theravāda Buddhism and is structured in four parts:

  • Ideas/Ideals
  • Practices/Persons
  • Texts/Teachings
  • Images/Imaginations

Owing largely to the continued vitality of Theravāda Buddhist communities in countries like Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos, as well as in diaspora communities across the globe, traditions associated with what is commonly (and fairly recently) called Theravāda attract considerable attention from scholars and practitioners around the world. An in-depth guide to the distinctive features of Theravāda, the Handbook will be an invaluable resource for providing structure and guidance for scholars and students of Asian Religion, Buddhism and, in particular, Theravāda Buddhism.

The introduction and chapter 20 of this book are available for free in PDF format as Open Access from the individual product page at It has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.

Table of Contents


Stephen C. Berkwitz & Ashley Thompson


PART I – Ideas/Ideals

  1. "THERAVĀDA": Sectarianism and Diversity in Mahāvihāra Historiography
  2. Sven Bretfeld

  3. PĀLI: Its Place in the Theravāda Buddhist Tradition
  4. Alastair Gornall

  5. CIRCULATIONS: Linked Spaces and Divergent Temporalities in the Pāli World
  6. Anne M. Blackburn

  7. STATECRAFT: From Buddhist Kingship to Modern States
  8. Patrice Ladwig

  9. REFORM: Ideas and Events in Modern Theravāda Reformism
  10. Anne Hansen & Anthony Lovenheim Irwin

  11. TRADITION: Nuns and "Theravāda" in Sri Lanka
  12. Nirmala Salgado


    PART II – Practices/Persons

  13. MERIT: Ritual Giving and Its Cultural Meditations
  14. Juliane Schober

  15. MEDITATION: Techniques and Processes of Transformation
  16. Pyi Phyo Kyaw & Kate Crosby

  17. REPETITION: Pāli Iterations of Ritual Commitment, Commentarial Refrain, and Assiduous Practice
  18. Christoph Emmrich

  19. FILIAL PIETY: Shades of Difference across Theravādin traditions
  20. Gregory Kourilsky

  21. LAITY: Status, Role and Practice in Theravāda
  22. Asanga Tilakaratne

  23. DISCIPLINE: Beyond the Vinaya
  24. Thomas Borchert

  25. FUNERALS: Changing Funerary Practices
  26. Katherine Bowie


    PART III – Texts/Teachings 

  27. CANONS: Authoritative Texts of the Theravaṃsa
  28. Peter Skilling

  29. ABHIDHAMMA: Theravāda Thought in Relation to Sarvāstivāda Thought
  30. Rupert Gethin

  31. VAṂSA: History and Lineage in the Theravāda
  32. Stephen C. Berkwitz

  33. MERIT: Ten Ways of Making Merit in Theravāda Exegetical Literature and Contemporary Sri Lanka
  34. Rita Langer

  35. BILINGUALISM: Theravāda Bitexts across South and Southeast Asia
  36. Trent Walker


    PART IV – Images/Imaginations

  37. VISUAL NARRATIVES: Buddha Life Stories in the ‘Medieval Theravāda’ of Southeast Asia
  38. Samerchai Poolsuwan

  39. ICONS: Standing out from the Narrative in Theravādin Art
  40. Ashley Thompson

  41. AFFECT: Notes from Contemporary Southeast Asian Visual Culture
  42. Chairat Polmuk

  43. DEITIES: Supernatural Forces in Theravāda Buddhist Religious Cultures
  44. John Holt

  45. MONS: Creating a Narrative of the Origins of Theravāda

Patrick McCormick

View More



Stephen C. Berkwitz is Professor and Head of the Department of Religious Studies, Missouri State University, USA. His research is focused on the literature and cultural history of Sri Lankan Buddhism. He has published South Asian Buddhism: A Survey (Routledge 2009) and is the editor of the Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism series.

Ashley Thompson is Hiram W. Woodward Chair in Southeast Asian Art at SOAS, University of London, UK. She is a specialist in Southeast Asian Cultural Histories, with particular expertise on premodern Cambodian arts. Her most recent monograph is Engendering the Buddhist State: Territory, Sovereignty and Sexual Difference in the Inventions of Angkor (Routledge 2016).