Constituting Communities

Theravāda Buddhism and the Religious Cultures of South and Southeast Asia

Edited by John Clifford Holt, Jacob N. Kinnard, and Jonathan S. Walters

Subjects: Asian Studies
Series: SUNY series in Buddhist Studies
Paperback : 9780791456927, 232 pages, March 2003
Hardcover : 9780791456910, 232 pages, March 2003

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Table of contents

John Clifford Holt and Jacob N. Kinnard

1. Communal Karma and Karmic Community in Theravada Buddhist History
Jonathan S. Walters

2. Toward a Theory of Buddhist Queenship: The Legend of Asandhimitta
John S. Strong

3. Beggars Can Be Choosers: Mahakassapa as a Selective Eater of Offerings
Liz Wilson

4. The Insight Guide to Hell: Mahamoggallana and Theravada Buddhist Cosmology
Julie Gifford

5. When the Buddha Sued Visnu
Jacob N. Kinnard

6. Minister of Defense? The Visnu Controversy in Contemporary Sri Lanka
John Clifford Holt

7. Localizing Lineage: Importing Higher Ordination in Theravadin South and Southeast Asia
Anne M. Blackburn

8. Preacher as a Poet: Poetic Preaching as a Monastic Strategy in Constituting Buddhist Communities in Modern Sri Lanka and Thailand
Mahinda Deegalle

9. "For Those Who Are Ignorant": A Study of the Bauddha Ädahilla
Carol S. Anderson

10. Interpretive Strategies for Seeing the Body of the Buddha
James R. Egge

List of Contributors


Explores how community is defined and how it functions among Theravada Buddhists in South and Southeast Asia.


Constituting Communities explores how community functions within Theravāda Buddhist culture. Although the dominant focus of Buddhist studies for the past century has been on doctrinal and philosophical issues, this volume concentrates on discourses that produced them, and why and how these discourses and practices shaped Theravāda communities in South and Southeast Asia. From a variety of perspectives, including historical, literary, doctrinal and philosophical, and social and anthropological, the contributors explore the issues that have proven important and definitive for identifying what it has meant, individually and socially, to be Buddhist in this particular region. The book focuses on textual discourse, how communities are formed and maintained within pluralistic contexts, and the formation of community both within and between the monastic and lay settings.

John Clifford Holt is Professor of Religion at Bowdoin College and the author of The Religious World of Kirti Sri: Buddhism, Art, and Politics in Late Medieval Sri Lanka. Jacob N. Kinnard is Assistant Professor of Religion at the College of William and Mary and the author of Imaging Wisdom: Seeing and Knowing in the Art of Indian Buddhism. Jonathan S. Walters is Associate Professor of Religion and Asian Studies at Whitman College and the coeditor (with Ronald Inden and Daud Ali) of Querying the Medieval: Texts and the History of Practices in South Asia.