Paul T. Cohen (ed.)
- Published: 2017
- Pages: 272 pp.
- Series: NIAS Studies in Asian Topics
- Series number: 57
Lanna Buddhism is a variant of Theravada Buddhism found in northern Thailand and neighbouring areas. A salient feature is the belief in charismatic monks. These monks and their (at times) troubled relations with both the Thai state and state-controlled monkhood (sangha), their utopian visions and economic activities, and the mix of lowland Thai and highland minority followers are the focus of this book. Charismatic Monks will appeal to scholars in Buddhist studies, Thai studies and the anthropology of religion as well as to those with an interest in the study of contemporary religious change in Thailand.
Lanna Buddhism is a variant of Theravada Buddhism that evolved between the 13th and 16th centuries in northern Thailand and spread to neighbouring areas of the Upper Mekong region. A salient feature is the belief in charismatic monks, some of whom are renowned for their asceticism, supernatural powers and strivings to recreate a utopian ‘Buddha-land’. Issues highlighted in the book are the relationship of these charismatic monks to the state and state-controlled monkhood (sangha), the tendency for religious construction to spill over into economic development activities, and the diversity of lowland and highland devotional communities from Thailand and Myanmar.
The book also explores contemporary influences on this religious tradition: the continuing marginalization of highland minorities and consequent devotion to messianic leaders, the incorporation for Lanna holy men into a national constellation of popular charismatic monks, the commercialization of Buddhism, and the patronage of wealthy urban elites.
Charismatic Monks of Lanna Buddhism will appeal to scholars within the fields of Buddhist studies, Thai studies and the anthropology of religion as well as to those with an interest in the study of contemporary religious change in Thailand.
Paul Cohen is Associate Professor and an honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology, Macquarie University, Sydney, as well as a regular visiting scholar at Chiang Mai University in Thailand.
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