December 29, 2008


REBUILDING BUDDHISM
The Theravada Movement in Twentieth-Century Nepal
Sarah LeVine and David N. Gellner

Social Science Press-Orient Blackswan joint publication
390 pages 215x140 mm Hardback
Rs 795
ISBN 978-81-87358-39-8
RELIGION, SOCIOLOGY, ANTHROPOLOGY, POLITICS
Pub Date December 2008

'a significant ethnographic contribution... a splendidly rendered ethnography that advances a wealth of informed analysis about Buddhist renewal in Nepal while suggesting many insights into the process of Buddhist revitalization throughout the region.'
Ingrid Jordt, American Anthropologist
Rebuilding Buddhism 'will remain the standard reference on Theravada Buddhism in Nepal for a long time to come... It is a long time since I have been so enchanted by a book (for a scholarly book – it is sad how seldom one can say this – it is written in an engaging and fluent way) and it is a long time since I learnt so much as from reading this monograph.'
Karénina Kollmar-Paulenz, Anthropos

'[T]he book is an excellent investment for anyone who wants to understand what is going on in Nepal today and what the future might hold not only for the Newar community but for all the peoples of Nepal.'
John Locke, S.J., Contributions to Nepalese Studies

Rebuilding Buddhism describes in evocative detail the experiences and achievements of Nepalis who have adopted Theravada Buddhism. This form of Buddhism was introduced into Nepal from Burma and Sri Lanka in the 1930s, and its adherents have struggled for recognition and acceptance ever since. With its focus on the austere figure of the monk and the biography of the historical Buddha, and more recently with its emphasis on individualizing meditation and on gender equality, Theravada Buddhism contrasts sharply with the highly ritualized Tantric Buddhism traditionally practiced in the Kathmandu Valley.
Based on extensive fieldwork, interviews, and historical reconstruction, the book provides a rich portrait of the different ways of being a Nepali Buddhist over the past seventy years. At the same time it explores the impact of the Theravada movement and what its gradual success has meant for Buddhism, for society, and for men and women in Nepal.
Contents
1: The Origins of Modernist Buddhism
2: Theravada Missionaries in an Autocratic State
3: Creating a Tradition
4: Charisma and Education
5: The Changing Buddhist Laity
6: Organizing and Educating the Monastic Community
7: Raising the Status of Nuns
8: Winds of Change
9: Other Buddhist Revival Movements
10: Nepal’s Theravadins in the Twenty-first Century
Appendices
Glossary
Notes and References
Index
Sarah LeVine is Associate in Sanskrit and India Studies, Harvard University. She is also the author of Mothers & Wives: Gusii Women of East Africa (University of Chicago Press, 1979), Dolor Y Alegria: Women and Social Change in Urban Mexico (University of Wisconsin Press, 1993), and The Saint of Kathmandu: Tales of the Sacred in Distant Lands (Beacon Press, 2008).

David N. Gellner is Professor of Social Anthropology and Fellow of All Souls, University of Oxford. Among his other books are Resistance and the State: Nepalese Experiences (Social Science Press, 2003), The Anthropology of Buddhism and Hinduism: Weberian Themes (OUP, 2001), Contested Hierarchies: A Collaborative Ethnography of Caste among the Newars of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal (OUP, 1995), and Monk, Householder and Tantric Priest: Newar Buddhism and its Hierarchy of Ritual (Cambridge University Press, 1992).

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