Buddhist Warfare

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Though traditionally regarded as a peaceful religion, Buddhism has a dark side. On multiple occasions over the past fifteen centuries, Buddhist leaders have sanctioned violence, and even war. The eight essays in this book focus on a variety of Buddhist traditions, from antiquity to the present, and show that Buddhist organizations have used religious images and rhetoric to support military conquest throughout history.

Buddhist soldiers in sixth century China were given the illustrious status of Bodhisattva after killing their adversaries. In seventeenth century Tibet, the Fifth Dalai Lama endorsed a Mongol ruler's killing of his rivals. And in modern-day Thailand, Buddhist soldiers carry out their duties undercover, as fully ordained monks armed with guns.

Buddhist Warfare demonstrates that the discourse on religion and violence, usually applied to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, can no longer exclude Buddhist traditions. The book examines Buddhist military action in Tibet, China, Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, and shows that even the most unlikely and allegedly pacifist religious traditions are susceptible to the violent tendencies of man.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Anyone with idealized notions of Buddhism as a religion fully committed to peace and non-violence will benefit from this fine collection. Outlining how a range of Buddhists have participated in war and justified this apparent violation of their ethical principles, these essays shed new light on sacred violence, just-war discourse, religious nationalism, and religious institutions' collaboration with the state. This is a rich and timely book." ---Christopher Ives, author of Imperial-Way Zen

"This book is essential reading for Buddhist scholars with any specialty, if only to foster new consideration of the systemics of Buddhist politics and new textual readings, historical framings, and theoretical frames. This volume provides fresh perspectives that make it a true contribution to the study of Buddhist violence and to Buddhist studies within global trends of religious violence. "--Journal of Global Buddhism

"An extremely valuable, edifying collection. . ."--Current Intelligence

"A fascinating work. . . "--Buddhadharma

"[T]he entire collection was a pleasure to read, and I recommend this important and timely work. Since it is such a rich and challenging resource about Budhist martial, political, and legal violence, it can only serve to realign our understanding of this tradition in a more sophisticated and complex way."--Religion Matters

"[T]he strength of the book is excellent. Buddhist Warfare deserves to be read by all Buddhist specialists and graduate students, particularly to those interested in violence in Buddhism. The book immensely contributes to Buddhist studies, the anthropological study of Buddhism, and political and Asian studies."--Journal of Religion & Culture

"[F]ull of weighty information about Buddhist attitudes to violence, warfare, and the dharma."--Practical Matters Journal

"By taking the initiative to publish this collection of essays, Jerryson and Juergensmeyer have stimulated important dimensions of a discussion that is sure to garner much more attention from scholars of a variety of disciplinary perspectives in the future, as well as from thoughtful adherents of the Budddha's dharma. It is a welcomed and timely addition."--Southeast Asian Studies

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195394849
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/8/2010
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,328,543
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Jerryson is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Youngstown State University.

Mark Juergensmeyer is Professor of Sociology and Global Studies, and Director of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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Table of Contents

Contributors ix

Introduction Michael Jerryson 3

1 Buddhism and War Paul DemiƩville 17

2 Making Merit through Warfare According to the &Abar;rya-Bodhisattva-gocara-up&abar;yavi&sbdot;aya-vikurva&nbdot;a-nirdeśa S&ubar;tra Stephen Jenkins 59

3 Sacralized Warfare: The Fifth Dalai Lama and the Discourse of Religious Violence Derek F. Maher 77

4 Legalized Violence: Punitive Measures of Buddhist Khans in Mongolia Vesna A. Wallace 91

5 A Buddhological Critique of "Soldier-Zen" in Wartime Japan Brian Daizen Victoria 105

6 Buddhists in China during the Korean War (1951-1953) Xue Yu 131

7 Onward Buddhist Soldiers: Preaching to the Sri Lankan Army Daniel W. Kent 157

8 Militarizing Buddhism: Violence in Southern Thailand Michael Jerryson 179

Afterthoughts Bernard Faure 211

Appendix 227

Bibliography 229

Index 241

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