Rebuilding Buddhism: The Theravada Movement in Twentieth-Century Nepal

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Harvard University Press, Jun 1, 2009 - Religion - 394 pages
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"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.


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I am a Rajopadhyaya of the Kathmandu Valley. I just want to inform you that the community of Rajopadhyaya is still on the verge of proving its ethnicity (either as Bramhans or as Newars?). I totally understand that the book has cited the previous documents, so that we do not mean to blame you but please do not forget to mention that the Rajopadhyaya Brahmans are Newari speakers only. The caste has not been proved to be typical Newar one.
We would like to inform you that we are looking forward to correcting the miscategorisation of our Rajopadhyaya community under Newars by then Muluki Ain. There are still lots more to do but this is one of those steps towards our success. I hope you will take a positive step towards our effort to identify ourselves as a non-Newar community.
thank you.


Introduction The Origins of Modernist Buddhism
Theravada Missionaries in an Autocratic State
Creating a Tradition
Charisma and Education Dhammawati and the Nuns Order after 1963
The Changing Buddhist Laity
Organizing and Educating the Monastic Community
Raising the Status of Nuns The Controversy over Bhikkhuni Ordination
Winds of Change Meditation and Social Activism
Conclusion Nepals Theravadins in the TwentyFirst Century
Dramatis Personae Some Prominent Personalities in the Theravada Movement
Complete List of Theravada Viharas in Nepal

Other Buddhist Revival Movements Tibetan Mahayana and Newar Vajrayana

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About the author (2009)

Sarah LeVine is Research Associate in Human Development and Psychology, Harvard Graduate School of Education.

David N. Gellner is Lecturer in the Social Anthropology of South Asia, University of Oxford.

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