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Other titles in the Southeast Asia: Politics, Meaning, and Memory series:
Spreading the Dhamma: Writing, Orality, and Textual Transmission in Buddhist Northern Thailand (Southeast Asia--Politics, Meaning, Memory)by Daniel M. Veidlinger
Synopses & Reviews
How did early Buddhists actually encounter the seminal texts of their religion? What were the attitudes held by monks and lay-people toward the written and oral Pali traditions? In this pioneering work, Daniel Veidlinger explores these questions in the context of the northern Thai kingdom of Lan Na. Drawing on a vast array of sources, including indigenous chronicles, reports by foreign visitors, inscriptions, and palm-leaf manuscripts, he traces the role of written Buddhist texts in the predominantly oral milieu of northern Thailand from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Veidlinger examines how the written word was assimilated into existing Buddhist and monastic practice in the region, considering the use of manuscripts for textual study and recitation as well as the place of writing in the cultic and ritual life of the faithful. He shows how manuscripts fit into the economy, describes how they were made and stored, and highlights the understudied issue of the "cult of the book" in Theravada Buddhism. Looking at the wider Theravada world, Veidlinger argues that manuscripts in Burma and Sri Lanka played a more central role in the preservation and dissemination of Buddhist texts. By offering a detailed examination of the motivations driving those who sponsored manuscript production, this study draws attention to the vital role played by forest-dwelling monastic orders introduced from Sri Lanka in the development of Lan Na's written Pali heritage. It also considers the rivalry between those monks who wished to preserve the older oral tradition and monks, rulers, and laypeople who supported the expansion of the new medium of writing.
Book News Annotation:
Veidlinger (religious studies, California State U.-Chico) analyzes the development of writing and its complex relationship to the oral tradition during the 15th century in the kingdom of Lan Na in northern Thailand as one part of the story of the transmission of the Tipitaka and related Pali texts of Buddhist literature, a story that now includes compact disks. The study is based on his doctoral dissertation in South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, and draws on his research in Thailand in 1999. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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