Buddhism and Society

The module is intended to examine a wide range of social and political issues in contemporary Buddhism in Southeast Asia. It explores some of the changes affecting Asian Buddhist communities in the context of modernity consequent upon the encounter with the West and the subsequent arrival of world views and secular values that challenge the traditional outlooks and ways of life. The module is designed for students who want to understand how Buddhism is lived and how its tradition is being transformed in Southeast Asia, affected by colonialism, socialism, nationalism, secularism, development and social change. It is primarily aimed to examine the intersection between religion, politics and society. Some of the themes covered are: religious origin of political legitimation, politicization of the Sangha, the role of monks, power of the laity, the other-worldly charisma of arahant, Buddhist fundamentalism, socially engaged Buddhism, nuns and the contemporary bhikkhuni revival movement.

Select Bibliography

Harris, I. (ed.) Buddhism and Politics in Twentieth-century Asia

Jackson, P. Buddhism, Legitimation, and Conflict

Jerryson, M. & M. Juergensmeyer (eds.) Buddhist Warfare

Ling, T. (ed.) Buddhist Trends in Southeast Asia