Buddhism and politics

Authored by: Peter Friedlander

Routledge Handbook of Religion and Politics

Print publication date:  January  2016
Online publication date:  January  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138826991
eBook ISBN: 9781315643922
Adobe ISBN:


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There is a Buddhist tradition that when the Buddha was born it was prophesied that he could either become a cakravartin (‘Wheel-turning monarch’) and become the ruler of the world, or he would become the Buddha (‘Awakened’) and become the liberator of the world. 1 This idea of the world having a secular ruler and a spiritual leader stands at the heart of Buddhist tradition. The secular ruler establishes security and prosperity in this world and the spiritual leader, the Buddha, leads people to liberation. This notion of the two separate, but complementary, leadership roles contributes greatly towards the compatibility of Buddhist ideas on governance and modern Western conceptions of the separation between the church and state.

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