1st Edition

Routledge Handbook of Theravāda Buddhism

Edited By Stephen C. Berkwitz, Ashley Thompson Copyright 2022
    394 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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 www.routledge.com. It has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.


    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


    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).