Buddhist Rituals of Death and Rebirth: Contemporary Sri Lankan Practice and Its Origins

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Routledge, Aug 7, 2007 - Religion - 256 pages

In Buddhist thought and practice, death has always been a central concept. This book provides a careful and thorough analysis of the rituals and social customs surrounding death in the Theravada tradition of Sri Lanka.

Rita Langer describes the rituals of death and rebirth and investigates their ancient origins, analyzing social issues of the relationship between monks and lay people in this context. This aspect is of particular interest as death rituals are the only life cycle ritual in which Theravada Buddhist monks are actively involved. Drawing on early Vedic sutras and Pali texts as well as archaeological and epigraphical material, Buddhist Rituals of Death and Rebirth establishes that Sri Lankan rituals are deeply rooted in their pre-Buddhist, Vedic precursors. Whilst beliefs and doctrines have undergone considerable changes over the centuries, it becomes evident that the underlying practices have largely remained stable.

The first comprehensive study of death rituals in Theravada Buddhist practice, this is an important contribution to the fields of Buddhist studies, indology, anthropology and religious studies.

 

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Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
I DEATH AND DYING
10
II THE FUNERAL
62
III POSTFUNERARY RITES
125
CONCLUSIONS
186
NOTES
190
Questionnaire English and Sinhala
213
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND ABBREVIATIONS
215
GENERAL INDEX
232
INDEX OF CITED PASSAGES SUTTAS AND TEXTS
241
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About the author (2007)

Rita Langer is currently Research Fellow in Buddhist Studies at the University of Bristol, UK. Focusing on Southeast Asia (Thailand and Laos), she is continuing her research into Theravada death rituals as part of a larger AHRC funded project, 'Buddhist Death Rituals of Southeast Asia and China'.

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