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P. 1
1theravada Bud in Nepal Kloppenberg

1theravada Bud in Nepal Kloppenberg

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08/04/2012

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THERAVADABUDDHISMINNEPAL
RiaKloppenborg
Utrecht
INTRODUCTION1
ThemodernTheravadamovementinNepalhasbeengivenlittleattentionbystudentsofBuddhism.
It
ismentionedonlybriefly_byGokhale-andBechert-.MostofthewrittensourcesatourdisposalconsistofarticlesinBuddhistjournals+andreferencesinthepublicationsoftheDharmodayaSabhaofNepal>.Thepresentaccountisbasedpartlyonthesewrittensources,butmainlyonobservationandinter-viewscarriedoutduringserveralvisitstoNepalbeginningin]973.Combiningbothtypesofinformationitseemspossibleatleasttogiveanoutlineofthemainhistoricaleventsinthedevelopmentofthemovement.WithoutthewillingcooperationofmanyTheravadinmonks,nuns,andlaymeningivinginformation,thehistorywouldhaveremainedvagueandfragmented.
It
islessproblematictogetacquaintedwiththepresentsituation,althoughincasesofresearchofthiskinditisalwayswithcautionthatpersonalobservationsandinterviewsshouldbeevaluated.Wearedealingwithanewreligiouscommunitywhichisinaprocessofdevelopmentandwhichisinfluencedandcriticizedfromdifferentsides.Thisalsomakesitdifficulttodrawanydefiniteconclusions.ThereforeweshallconfineourselvesinthisarticletoadescriptionofthehistoryandthepresentstatusofNepaleseTheravada,
1
VisitstoNepalbetween1973and1977havebeenmadepossiblethroughfinancialsupportfromtheStateUniversityofUtrechtandthePrinsBerhardFonds.IamgratefultotheVenerableAmrtnanda,Sumangala,SakyanandaPraj
fi
anandaandMahapanthafortheirkindnesstoprovidemewiththenecessaryinformation.IamalsoindebtedtotheanagarikasoftheDharmakirtiVihara,andtoMr.PurnaharsaBajracharya,Mr.ManikTu1adhar,Mr.RatnaBahadurBajracharya,Dr.M.WitzelandMr.R.vanKooij.Anearlierversionofthisreporthasbeenreadatthe]3thCongressoftheInternationalAssociationfortheHistoryofReligions,whichwasheldinLancaster,England,]5-22August1975.
2
V.V.Gokhale,inP.V.Bapat(ed.)
YearsofBuddhism,84.
3
H.Bechert,
Buddhismus,StaatundGesellschaft,
I,Frankfurt/M.-Berlin1966,160
4
Especiallythe
MahiiBodhi
and
TheBuddhist.
S
Thejournals
Dharmodaya,Dharmakirti
and
Lumbini.
SeealsoKularatnaDharmaTuladhar,
BuddhismandNepal,
DharmodayaSabha,Kathmandu1956;BhikkhuSumangala,
BuddhistMeditation,
Lalitpur1974.
 
302
I
Kailash
THETHERAVADA
MISSIONIN
NEPAL
1900-1
q46
Attheendofthe19thcenturyBuddhists
in
Ceylonbegantorevaluetheirown
religious
andculturalheritage.Inline
with
a
growing
nationalismintheBuddhistcountriestheactiviststriedtofightEuropean
dominationwith
anewemphasison,thetraditionalideasandcustoms.The
resulting
so-calledBuddhistmodernismbecameinfluentialinallBuddhist
countries,
especially
in
thosecountriesthatfeltthepressureofWesternpolitical,economicalandculturaldominance.Thedevelopmentof
this
movementhasbeendescribed
in
detailbyBechert''
According
tohim,oneofthemaincharacteristicsofthemovement
is
theemphasisthatislaidontherationalisticelements
in
Buddhistteaching,especiallyincomparisonwithChristianity.Anotheraspectistheimportanceofthelayorganizationsandtheroleofthelaity
in
thewholeofthemovement,which
is
contrarytoitsmodestpositionintraditionalTheravada.The
modernistic
movementcouldcomeintoexistencebecauseofaseriesofpreviousdevelopmentsandundertheinfluenceofseveral
outside
impulses.TheinterestofEuropeanscholarsintheancientBuddhistliterature,philosophyandreligionpositivelyinfluencedBuddhistself-consciousness.AnewinterestinthescripturesandinthehistoryoftheancientBuddhistculturesbecameanothercharacteristicofBuddhistmodernism.BothbecameveneratedsymbolsofagloriousBuddhistpast.NotonlydidthisdevelopmentpromotearenewalofBuddhist
religious
practice,italsogreatlycontributedtothe
rise
ofanationalconsciousness
in
thestruggleforindependence.Oneoftheleadingfiguresofthe
modernistic
movementwastheAnagarikaDharmapala(1864-1933),whoestablishedastronglinkbetweennationalisticfeelingsandBuddhistrenewal.In1891hefoundedtheMahaBodhiSociety,whoseprimaryaimitwasto
unite
allBuddhisteffortsfortherestorationoftheplaceofpilgrimage
in
BuddhaGaya,theplaceoftheBuddha'senlightment.Thesocietywast'iefirstinternationalBuddhistorganizationandinthecourseofyearsbecamethecentreofBuddhist
missionary
work.TheMahaBodhiSocietywastheactiveforcebehindendeavoursforrenewalandsupportedvariousnewdirectionsinBuddhist
thinking
andsocialaction.ItsmainpurposewasthepropagationofBuddhism.Butthiswas
combined
withnationalisticandsocial-revolutionaryideals.NowonderthatthetraditionalRanaregimeinNepalhad
its
doubtsregardingthecontactsofNepaleseBuddhistswiththeMahaBodhi.Society
in
thethirtiesandforties.ThesuccessandthezealoftheMahaBodhiSocietyimpressedthefewNepaleseBuddhistswhocameintocontactwiththesocietyinIndiainthebeginningofthiscentury.Andthroughoutthe
history
ofTheravadainNepalcontactsremainedstrong.Thatisthemainreasonthatcharacteristicsoftherevivalistmovementcanalsobe
--------------
6
SeeBechert,o.c.
37-109
 
TheravadainNepal]30J
foundinNepaleseTheravada.ModernTheravadaemphasizestherationalisticelementsinBuddhismandthefirstTheravadamonkswhobecameengagedinpreachinginNepaltendedtopointattherationalityandpurityoftheirTheravadapracticesincomparisionwiththeritualsoftheNewars.Thisledtopublicdebates,inwhichthemonks'ardourindefendingtheirviewsoftenarousedtheantipathyoftheirNewarlisteners,whosawtheirreligiouscustomsattacked.ThiswayofpreachingofsomeofthefirstmonkshasresultedinsomecasesintheemergenceofaMahayanacountermovement,ledbyVajracaryas.SomeNewarsavoidedthemonksforthisreason.LatertheTheravadinsbecameawareoftheoffendingaspectsofthiswayofpreachingandtheystartedmoreandmoretodiscusstheideastheyhaveincommonwiththeNewars,withoutmuchcriticizingthelaymen'sattachmenttoMahayanaceremonies.Anothercharacteristic,ofrevivingTheravadaisthenewinterestinancientBuddhisthistory.ThisaspectisalsofoundinNepal.ReferencetotheprosperoustimesoftheancientBuddhistkingsfrequentlyrecursinthespeechesandwritingsoftheleadersofthemovementInthisconnectionwefindthatAsokaisoftencompared
with
presentNepalesekings,who
'did
everythingpossibleforthepropa-gationofthecauseofDhamma'(KingTribhuvan)andwho'intraditionwiththeancientBuddhistkingstookalivelyinterest....'(KingMahendra)."FrequentmentionofNepalasthecountryofbirthoftheBuddhaaswenastheactivitiestomakeLumbiniamaincentreofpilgrimagearealsoresultsofthisinterestinthepast,asisthefactthatmanyTheravadaauthorsrefertotheimportanceoftheSakyaswhoformedthefirstBuddhistnationinanareawhichisnowpartofNepal.fAsokanotonlyrepresentsthemodelofarighteousking,butalsoissaidinhislifetimetohaveshownanextrainterestinNepal.InthisconnectionthestupasofPatan,which
tradi-
tionattributestoAsoka,arementioned,aswenasthememorialpillarserectedbyhiminLumbiniandKapilavastuandtheCarumanVihara(Chabahil)builtaccodingtotraditionbyhisdaughterCarumatl,TheimportantplacegiventothelaityisalsoafeatureofNepaleseTheravada.Fromtheverystartlaymenhaveplayedanessentialroleintheorganizationanddevelopmentofthemovement.InthiscontextweshouldalsoconsiderthefactthatinNewarBuddhismtheplaceofthelaityisalreadymoreprominentthanintraditionalTheravada.TheNewarpriests,unlikecelibatemonkslivinginmonasteries,participateineverydaysociallifeanddonetdistinguishthemselvesfromthosewhohavenopriestlyfunctions.FollowingtheMahaBodhiSociety,theDharmodayaSabha,whenfoundedin)955inSarnath.corn-prisedmonksandnunsaswenaslaymenwithoutgivingspecialprivilegestothe
7
Report
oftheFourthWorldBuddhistConferenceoftheWorldFellowshipofBuddhists,Kathmandu,1956,9.
8
Seee.g.
Dharmodaya
No.35

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