The Buddhist Visnu

Religious Transformation, Politics, and Culture

John C. Holt

Columbia University Press

The Buddhist Visnu

Google Preview

Pub Date: December 2004

ISBN: 9780231133234

448 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $37.00£30.95

Pub Date: December 2004

ISBN: 9780231133227

448 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $110.00£91.95

Pub Date: December 2004

ISBN: 9780231508148

448 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $36.99£30.95

The Buddhist Visnu

Religious Transformation, Politics, and Culture

John C. Holt

Columbia University Press

John Holt's groundbreaking study examines the assimilation, transformation, and subordination of the Hindu deity Visnu within the contexts of Sri Lankan history and Sinhala Buddhist religious culture. Holt argues that political agendas and social forces, as much as doctrinal concerns, have shaped the shifting patterns of the veneration of Visnu in Sri Lanka.

Holt begins with a comparative look at the assimilation of the Buddha in Hinduism. He then explores the role and rationale of medieval Sinhala kings in assimilating Visnu into Sinhala Buddhism. Offering analyses of texts, many of which have never before been translated into English, Holt considers the development of Visnu in Buddhist literature and the changing practices of deity veneration. Shifting to the present, Holt describes the efforts of contemporary Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka to discourage the veneration of Visnu, suggesting that many are motivated by a reactionary fear that their culture and society will soon be overrun by the influences and practices of Hindus, Muslims, and Christians.
This is a scholarly but eminently readable and accessible study of the multilayered resonance of Sri Lankan culture... Highly Recommended. Choice
John Holt's book is an impressive work of scholarship. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Soceity
Preface
Part I. Introduction: The Historical and Theoretical Problems
1. The "Hindu Buddha" and the "Buddhist Visnu"
2. "Unceasing Waves": Brahmanical and Hindu Influences on Medieval Sinhala Buddhist Culture in Sri Lanka
3. The Sandalwood Image: Upulvan Deviyo and the Origins of the Cult of Visnu in Sinhala Buddhist Sri Lanka
4. Transformed Deity: The "Buddhist Visnu" in Sinhala Literature and Liturgy
Part II. Introduction: The Cult of Visnu in Buddhist Sri Lanka
5. Seeking Protection: Cultic Life at the Udarata Visnu Devalayas
6. The Valiyaka Mangalya: The Curative Powers of the Mala Raja
7. Legacies of the "Buddhist Visnu": Myth and Cult at the Alutnuvara Devalaya
8. Minister of Defense? The Politics of Deification in Contemporary Sri Lanka
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index of place names
Index of Texts (Translated or Cited)
Subject Index
Map

About the Author

John C. Holt is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of the Humanities in Religion and Asian Studies at Bowdoin College. He is the author of several books, including Buddha in the Crown: Avalokitesvara in the Buddhist Tradition of Sri Lanka, winner of an American Academy of Religion Book Award for Excellence, and The Religious World of Kirti Sri: Buddhism, Art and Politics in Late Medieval Sri Lanka, and is the editor of Constituting Communities: Theravada Buddhism and the Religious Cultures of South and Southeast Asia.