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Theravada Buddhism: Continuity, Diversity, and Identity

ISBN: 978-1-118-32329-8
312 pages
September 2013, Wiley-Blackwell
Theravada Buddhism: Continuity, Diversity, and Identity (1118323297) cover image


Theravada Buddhism provides a comprehensive introductory overview of the history, teachings, and current practice of an often misunderstood form of one of the world’s oldest religious traditions.

  • Explores Theravada Buddhism’s origins, evolution, teachings, and practices
  • Considers the practice of Theravada beyond Sri Lanka and Thailand, by exploring a wealth of material from countries including Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Vietnam
  • Reveals its rich and varied traditions, and corrects common misunderstandings about links to other practices, such as early Buddhism or Hinayana Buddhism
  • Incorporates student-friendly features including a glossary and other study aids
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments viii

Map xi

Introduction 1

Part One Buddha 13

1 The Buddha and Buddhahood 15

2 Buddha Worship 43

Part Two Dhamma 69

3 Literature, Languages, and Conveying the Dhamma 71

4 The Jâtaka 99

5 The Good Buddhist 112

6 Meditation 138

7 Abhidhamma 174

Part Three Sangha and Society 195

8 Monks, Monasteries, and their Position in Society 197

9 Women in Monasticism 218

10 Women in Theravada Literature and Society 238

11 Feminist Readings of Gender-Related Symbols 250

12 Nonharming, Politics, and Violence 262

Glossary 283

Index 290

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Author Information

Kate Crosby is a Seiyu Kiriyama Reader in Buddhist Studies in the Department of the Study of Religions at SOAS, University of London, and is also a member of the Centre of South East Asian Studies and the Centre of Buddhist Studies. She is the author or editor of a number of books, including Santideva’s Bodhicaryavatara: Buddhist Path To Awakening (with Andrew Skilton, 1998), and The Dead of Night & the Women (2009).

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“Each chapter ends with a wealth of reference and further suggestions for reading and watching.  Summing Up: Recommended.  Upper-level undergraduates, graduate students, and researchers/faculty.”  (Choice, 1 October 2014)


“It is a wonderful tour de force. At last here is a book that pays attention to the whole scope of the Theravâda tradition, from its historical developments in various cultural contexts, to the diversity of its practices, to the evolution and variety of its doctrines, and to its present-day situations in the modern world.”
John Strong, Bates College

“[A] wonderful and welcome addition to the field … this book will prove to be the best introduction to the study of Theravada Buddhism available in a Western language for many years.”
Justin McDaniel, University of Pennsylvania

“There is nothing whatsoever like this on the market: so balanced, comprehensive, easy-to-read, humane, insightful.”
Steven Collins, University of Chicago

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