The Religious World of Kirti Sri: Buddhism, Art and Politics of Late Medieval Sri Lanka

The Religious World of Kirti Sri: Buddhism, Art and Politics of Late Medieval Sri Lanka

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By (author) John Clifford Holt

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 192 pages
  • Dimensions: 156mm x 235mm x 12mm | 249g
  • Publication date: 1 April 1996
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0195107578
  • ISBN 13: 9780195107579
  • Edition statement: New.
  • Illustrations note: 8 pp colour and 32 pp black and white plates, line figures
  • Sales rank: 1,265,206

Product description

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 focuses 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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Author information

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).

Review quote

"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 AsianStudies"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

Back cover copy

In this interdisciplinary inquiry, John Clifford Holt seeks to uncover how Buddhism was understood and expressed in Sri Lanka, Asia's oldest continuing Buddhist culture, during the advent of European colonialism. Holt focuses on King Kirti Sri Rajasinha, who ruled in the waning years of indigenous Sri Lankan rule, and how he successfully revived Sinhalese Theravada Buddhism despite persistent Dutch colonial threats and a deeply suspicious Kandyan Buddhist Sinhalese aristocracy.