By Elizabeth Harris

ISBN-10: 0203098773

ISBN-13: 9780203098776

ISBN-10: 0415371252

ISBN-13: 9780415371254

This significant new paintings explores the British stumble upon with Buddhism in 19th century Sri Lanka, reading the best way Buddhism used to be represented and developed within the eyes of the British students, officers, visitors and spiritual seekers who first encountered it. Tracing the 3 major historic stages of the come across from 1796 to 1900, the booklet offers a delicate and nuanced exegesis of the cultural and political affects that formed the early British figuring out of Buddhism and that will situation its next transmission to the West. increasing our figuring out of inter-religious family members among Christians and Buddhists, the e-book fills an important hole within the scholarship on Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka by means of focusing on missionary writings and featuring an intensive exploration of unique fabrics of a number of vital pioneers in Buddhist reports and challenge reports.

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Additional info for Theravada Buddhism and the British Encounter (Routledgecurzon Critical Studies in Buddhism)

Sample text

James Cordiner, Dr John Davy, Rev. William Harvard and his Methodist colleagues, and Edward Upham, the writers I have chosen to represent the first wave of visitors to Sri Lanka in the nineteenth century, cover a variety of roles. Each encountered Buddhism in a different way and with a different agenda. All were pioneers and knew it. They questioned, categorized and evaluated. And they did not come to the same conclusions. Joseph Joinville arrived in Sri Lanka in 1798 with Governor Frederick North.

Upham 1829: 66) In contrast, Davy firmly states that Buddhism is materialistic: They appear to be materialists in the strictest sense of the term, and to have no notion of pure spirit or mind. Prane and Hitta, life and intelligence, the most learned of them seem to consider as identical – seated in the heart, radiating from thence to different parts of the body, like heat from a fire – uncreated, without beginning, at least, that they know of – capable of being modified by a variety of circumstances, like the breath in different musical instruments – and like a vapour, capable of passing from one body to another; and, like a flame, liable to be extinguished and totally annihilated.

On other pages, he is presented as the giver of nibbana (Upham 1829: 75); the incarnation of divine energy (Upham 1829: 135); the being who is assigned the 24 THE EARLY BRITISH VISITORS sky like Jove (Upham 1829: 43) and the one who is now in nibbana, ‘so abstracted in his essence that he is scarcely the object of hope or of fear’ (Upham 1829: 135). As for the date of the Buddha, Upham places him 543 years before Christ (Upham 1829: 11). It is evident that Upham tried to discriminate between history and myth.

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Theravada Buddhism and the British Encounter (Routledgecurzon Critical Studies in Buddhism) by Elizabeth Harris


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