Religious World of Kiirti Srii: Buddhism, Art, and Politics in Late Medieval Sri Lanka / Edition 1

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Overview

In this interdisciplinary inquiry, John Clifford Holt seeks to uncover how Buddhism was understood and expressed during the waning years of indigenous political power in Asia's oldest continuing Buddhist culture. Holt focusses on King Kirti Sri Rajasinha and how, despite powerful and persistent Dutch colonial threats and a deeply suspicious Kandyan Buddhist Sinhalese aristocracy, he successfully revived Sinhalese Theravada Buddhism. As Holt demonstrates, Kirti Sri succeeded in formulating his vision of an orthodox Buddhism in a number of ways: through the patronage of monastic sanha and re-establishing traditional lines of ordination, translating the Pali suttas into Sinhala, sponsoring public Buddhist religious rites, and refurbishing almost all Buddhist temples in the Kandyan culture region. The ultimate aim of Holt's study is to describe and interpret Kirti Sri's articulation of a normative Buddhist world, the essentials of which remain normative for many Buddhists in the Kandyan region of Sri Lanka today. Scholars and students will find The Religious World of Kirti Sri is an indispensable resource for the understanding of orthodox Buddhism at this important historical juncture, as well as the present day.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This wide-ranging and beautifully produced account is fascinating and enjoyable reading...this impassioned and original study, by a mature scholar trying to make holistic sense of a troubled society he knows and loves, will be of interest to scholars and students alike."—The Journal of Asian Studies

"Thus Holt's study looks to Sri Lanka's past and present, illuminating both eighteenth-century Buddhist worldviews and the current ethnic conflict."—The Journal of Religion

"The Religious World of Kirti Sri is a well-conceived and carefully executed study of a program of religious legitimation of kingship in one reign. As such, Holt's work holds considerable comparative value for historians not only of precolonial Sri Lanka, but also of other early modern Theravada Buddhist societies, such as Burma, Rakhine, Cambodia, and Ayudhya."—Journal of the American Oriental Society

"Readable and informative, [this book is] a pleasure for the academic specialist and the casual reader as well."—Mark Tatz, California College of Arts and Crafts

"The book that I have been waiting for: a perfect blend of history, ethnography, and iconography."—Francisca Cho Bantly, Georgetown University

Mahinda Deegalle
This is an important work both as an account of temple paintings and as an analysis of political implications of religious works....Through an analysis of temple paintings, Holt wants to see the way Sri Lankans became and lived as Buddhists....On the whole, The Religious World of Kiirti Srii is easy to read and accessible to average students of history of religions and Buddhism. —Journal of Buddhist Ethics
Mahinda Deegalle
This is an important work both as an account of temple paintings and as an analysis of political implications of religious works....Through an analysis of temple paintings, Holt wants to see the way Sri Lankans became and lived as Buddhists....On the whole, The Religious World of Kiirti Srii is easy to read and accessible to average students of history of religions and Buddhism. -- Journal of Buddhist Ethics
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195107579
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/28/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 9.25 (w) x 6.13 (h) x 0.42 (d)

Meet the Author

John Clifford Holt is Professor of Religion at Bowdoin College, where he organized and founded the Inter-Collegiate Sri Lanka Education (ISLE) Program. Dr. Holt has authored several books including Buddha in the Crown: Avalokitesvara in the Buddhist Traditions of Sri Lanka (OUP, 1991).

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Table of Contents

1 Kirti Sri's Predicament 3
2 Discourses of a Buddhist King 15
3 A Visual Liturgy 41
4 Royalty Reborn 73
5 Implications for Theory and Method 91
6 Postscript: Ethnic Identity and Ethnic Alienation 97
Appendix: The Religious Works of Kirti Sri at Gangarama and Ridi Vihara 109
Notes 115
Bibliography 135
Index 141
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