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date: 22 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter introduces the longest surviving living Buddhist tradition in the world. It outlines specific features of historical developments of the Sri Lankan Theravada Buddhist heritage. Dramatic historical and contemporary adaptations, made in response to the realities of political and social changes, are discussed by taking into account vernacular sources and archaeological research. A wide range of doctrinal and sociopolitical perspectives, along with Buddhist beliefs and practices, is examined by considering the incorporation of Hindu deities and Mahayana cultural elements. It notes European/Western encounters that produced radical developments in lifestyle and Buddhist ideology. The impact of civil war is briefly discussed, along with Marxist political groups such as the Janatha Vimukti Peramuna (JVP). Contemporary political and renewal movements within the tradition, such as the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) and the Bodu Bala Sena, are investigated on the basis of primary sources. Challenges that living traditions face in the face of modernity, globalization, and secularism are examined by highlighting that Buddhism still inspires and guides for human flourishing.

Keywords: Bodu Bala Sena, Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), Sri Lanka, Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism, Janatha Vimukti Peramuna

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