This book examines culture, religion and polity in the context of Buddhism. Gananath Obeyesekere, one of the foremost analytical voices from South Asia develops Freud’s notion of ‘dream work’, the ‘work of culture’ and ideas of no-self (anatta) to understand Buddhism in contemporary Sri Lanka. This work offers a restorative interpretation of Buddhist myths in contrast to the perspective involving deconstruction. The book deals with a range of themes connected with Buddhism, including oral traditions and stories, the religious pantheon, philosophy, emotions, reform movements, questions of identity and culture, and issues of modernity.
This fascinating volume will greatly interest students, teachers and researchers of religion and philosophy, especially Buddhism, ethics, cultural studies, social and cultural anthropology, Sri Lanka and modern South Asian history.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements. Prologue: Buddhism, World Religion: An Introductory Essay by T. N. Madan. Introduction Tellers of Stories, Writers of Histories: Essays on the Buddhist Past PART 1. 1. The Death of the Buddha: A Restorative Interpretation 2. The Demoness Kali and the Lord Buddha: A Parable for Our Times 3. Duṭṭhagāmani (Dutthagamani): The Buddhist Conscience of a Warrior King 4. Sigiriya Narratives: Tellers of Stories, Writers of Histories PART 2. 5. Depression, Buddhism and the Work of Culture 6. Deep Motivation and the Work of Culture in Christian Penitential Ecstasy 7. The Goddess Pattini and the Parable on Justice 8. Buddhism and the Idea of the Self: A Critique of Ethnography PART 3. 9. Colonel Olcott: Buddhist Modernism in the Theosophical Movement 10. Personal Identity and Cultural Crisis: The Buddhist Reforms of Anagarika Dharmapala. Epilogue: The Buddha in the Market Place and the Movement of Edifices. Glossary. Bibliography. Index
Gananath Obeyesekere is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University, USA where he has taught for 20 years. His recent publications include The Awakened Ones: An Essay on the Phenomenology of the Visionary Experience (2012); Cannibal Talk: The Man-eating Myth and Human Sacrifice in the South Seas (2005); and Imagining Karma: Ethical Transformation in Amerindian, Buddhist, and Greek Rebirth and Karma and Rebirth: A Cross-Cultural Study (2002/2006). Several of his books have been translated into Japanese, Polish and Turkish, and his essays have appeared in numerous journals and edited volumes.