Buddhist nationalism

Authored by: Saul Tobias

The Routledge Handbook of Religion, Politics and Ideology

Print publication date:  August  2021
Online publication date:  August  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367417826
eBook ISBN: 9780367816230
Adobe ISBN:


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The violence perpetrated by Buddhist ultra-nationalists in countries such as Sri Lanka and Myanmar in recent decades has drawn worldwide condemnation, dispelling the notion that Buddhism, uniquely among world religions, is immune to the lure of political violence (Beech, 2013). While it is important to correct this misconception of Buddhism as pacifist and non-political, it is also true that prominent Buddhists who condone nationalist violence are relatively rare, even in countries where Buddhism has a long history of political entanglements. A glance across the landscape of Buddhist Asia reveals that in contrast to these over-simplifications, Buddhism's relation to nationalism is complex and varied, encompassing a spectrum of ideological thought ranging from democratic nationalism to nationalist authoritarianism.

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