Bringing the Buddha Closer: The Role of Venerating the Buddha in the Modernization of Buddhism in Sri Lanka


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


Religious Studies


University of Pennsylvania


My book aims to reveal the broader foundation of Buddhist modernism in Asia. Focusing on the modernization of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, it highlights the importance of local cultural contexts to understand modernizing efforts of Buddhists as multidirectional. It argues against the existing scholarly paradigm that views the modernization of Buddhism in Asian countries as an adoption of Western models and values. The book shows how the innovative use of an indigenous ritual of venerating the Buddha has been a key element in the process of modernizing Buddhism in colonial and postcolonial Sri Lanka. It also questions the characterization of Buddhist modernism as anti-ritual and as a project of the elite social class.