The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia

Edition: 2nd
Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 2010-02-23
Publisher(s): State Univ of New York Pr
List Price: $26.95

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Customer Reviews

Southeast Asian Buddhism  April 2, 2011
Rating StarRating StarRating StarRating StarRating Star

I was confused by what I saw traveling in northern Thailand. It did not seem to make sense in what I had learned of Buddhism in the US. It seemed more like people had made an icon of the Buddha and were making personal offerings for their well being rather than seeking enlightenment. This textbook explains how the average person views and lives Buddhism in Southeast Asia, while at the same time allowing for differences between different Southeast Asian countries. This is Buddhism as a culture, not as a sort of "off the grid" personal endeavor as it seems to be here in the US. I wish I had read it while I was there. He discusses festivals, weddings, funerals and other social rites as well as political history. Swearer has a particular emphasis on the role of women in Southeast Asian Buddhism.

The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia: 4 out of 5 stars based on 1 user reviews.


An unparalleled portrait, Donald K. Swearer’s The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia has been a key source for all those interested in the Theravada homelands since the work’s publication in 1995. Expanded and updated, the second edition offers this wide-ranging account for readers at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Swearer shows Theravada Buddhism in Southeast Asia to be a dynamic, complex system of thought and practice embedded in the cultures, societies, and histories of Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka. The work focuses on three distinct yet interrelated aspects of this milieu. The first is the popular tradition of life models personified in myths and legends, rites of passage, festival celebrations, and ritual occasions. The second deals with Buddhism and the state, illustrating how King Asoka serves as the paradigmatic Buddhist monarch, discussing the relationship of cosmology and kingship, and detailing the rise of charismatic Buddhist political leaders in the postcolonial period. The third is the modern transformation of Buddhism: the changing roles of monks and laity, modern reform movements, the role of women, and Buddhism in the West.

Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition
The Popular Tradition
Ideal Action
Ritual Occasions, Merit, and the Appropriation of Power
Rites of Passage
Buddhism and the State
Asoka, the Exemplary Buddhist Ruler
Kings and Cosmology
The Cosmological Scheme of the Three Worlds
The Buddha as Cosmocrator
Modern Nationalism and Buddhism
Buddhism and Modernization
The Changing Role of the Monk
Reforming the Tradition
The Changing Role of the Laity
Women and Buddhism
Buddhism and the West
Sigalaka Sutta: Code of Lay Ethics
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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