The Work of Kings

Paperback | November 15, 1999

byH. L. Seneviratne

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The Work of Kings is a stunning new look at the turbulent modern history and sociology of the Sri Lankan Buddhist Monkhood and its effects upon contemporary society. Using never-before translated Sinhalese documents and extensive interviews with monks, Sri Lankan anthropologist H.L. Seneviratne unravels the inner workings of this New Buddhism and the ideology on which it is based.

Beginning with Anagarika Dharmapala's "rationalization" of Buddhism in the early twentieth century, which called for monks to take on a more activist role in the community, Seneviratne shows how the monks have gradually revised their role to include involvement in political and economic spheres. The altruistic, morally pure monks of Dharamapala's dreams have become, Seneviratne trenchantly argues, self-centered and arrogant, concealing self-aggrandizement behind a façade of "social service."

A compelling call for reform and a forceful analysis, The Work of Kings is essential to anthropologists, historians of religion, and those interested in colonialism, nationalism, and postcolonial politics.

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From Our Editors

The effects and influences of the Sri Lankan Buddhist Monkhood on contemporary society is the focus of H.L. Seneviratne’s The Work of Kings: The New Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Beginning with the ‘rationalization’ of Buddhism at the beginning of the 20th century, it follows the monkhood’s gradual adoption of a more involved role in politica...

From the Publisher

The Work of Kings is a stunning new look at the turbulent modern history and sociology of the Sri Lankan Buddhist Monkhood and its effects upon contemporary society. Using never-before translated Sinhalese documents and extensive interviews with monks, Sri Lankan anthropologist H.L. Seneviratne unravels the inner workings of this New B...

Format:PaperbackDimensions:392 pages, 9 × 6.06 × 1 inPublished:November 15, 1999Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226748669

ISBN - 13:9780226748665

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Table of Contents

Preface
Note on Usage
1: Buddhism, Civil Society, and the Present Study
2: Dharmapala and the Definition of the Monk's Mission
3: The Economic Stage: Vidyodaya and Rural Development
4: Vidyalankara: The Descent into Ideology
5: Social Service: The Anatomy of a Vocation
6: The Critique of Monkhood
7: Conclusion: From Regeneration to Degeneration
Index

From Our Editors

The effects and influences of the Sri Lankan Buddhist Monkhood on contemporary society is the focus of H.L. Seneviratne’s The Work of Kings: The New Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Beginning with the ‘rationalization’ of Buddhism at the beginning of the 20th century, it follows the monkhood’s gradual adoption of a more involved role in political and economic spheres. It argues that the evolution of these roles has seen the rise of self-centered behavior and arrogance hiding behind the facade of ‘social service.’ The Work of Kings is a loud call for reform.