Theravada Buddhism has experienced a powerful and far-reaching revival in modern Nepal, especially among the Newar Buddhist laity, many of whom are reorganizing their lives according to its precepts, practices and ideals. This book documents these far-reaching social and personal transformations and links them to political, economic and cultural shifts associated with late modernity, and especially neoliberal globalization.
Nepal has changed radically over the last century, particularly since the introduction of liberal democracy and an open-market economy in 1990. The rise of lay vipassana meditation has also dramatically impacted the Buddhist landscape. Drawing on recently revived understandings of ethics as embodied practices of self-formation, the author argues that the Theravada turn is best understood as an ethical movement that offers practitioners ways of engaging, and models for living in, a rapidly changing world. The book takes readers into the Buddhist reform from the perspectives of its diverse practitioners, detailing devotees' ritual and meditative practices, their often conflicted relations to Vajrayana Buddhism and Newar civil society, their struggles over identity in a formerly Hindu nation-state, and the political, cultural, institutional and moral reorientations that becoming a "pure Buddhist"—as Theravada devotees understand themselves—entails.
Based on more than 20 years of anthropological fieldwork, this book is an important contribution to scholarly debates over modern Buddhism, ethical practices, and the anthropology of religion. It is of interest to students and scholars of Asian Religion, Anthropology, Buddhism and Philosophy.
Chapter 1: Introduction: Seeing Things As They Are
Chapter 2: ‘A Garden of Every Kind of People:’ Newar Buddhists in Hindu Nepal
Chapter 3: The Revival of "Pure Buddhism"
Chapter 4: What Makes A Theravada Buddhist?
Chapter 5: Becoming "Pure Buddhist" (1): Practices of Personhood
Chapter 6: Becoming "Pure Buddhist" (2): Vipassana Meditation and the Theravada Care of the Self
Chapter 7: The Best Dharma for Today: Post-Protestant Buddhism in Neoliberal Nepal
Conclusion: The Buddhist Art of Living, in Nepal and Elsewhere
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