Cambodian Buddhism: History and Practice
- About the Book
The study of Cambodian religion has long been hampered by a lack of easily accessible scholarship. This impressive new work by Ian Harris thus fills a major gap and offers English-language scholars a booklength, up-to-date treatment of the religious aspects of Cambodian culture. Beginning with a coherent history of the presence of religion in the country from its inception to the present day, the book goes on to furnish insights into the distinctive nature of Cambodia's important yet overlooked manifestation of Theravada Buddhist tradition and to show how it reestablished itself following almost total annihilation during the Pol Pot period.
Historical sections cover the dominant role of tantric Mahayana concepts and rituals under the last great king of Angkor, Jayavarman VII (1181–c. 1220); the rise of Theravada traditions after the collapse of the Angkorian civilization; the impact of foreign influences on the development of the nineteenth-century monastic order; and politicized Buddhism and the Buddhist contribution to an emerging sense of Khmer nationhood. The Buddhism practiced in Cambodia has much in common with parallel traditions in Thailand and Sri Lanka, yet there are also significant differences. The book concentrates on these and illustrates how a distinctly Cambodian Theravada developed by accommodating itself to premodern Khmer modes of thought. Following the overthrow of Prince Sihanouk in 1970, Cambodia slid rapidly into disorder and violence. Later chapters chart the elimination of institutional Buddhism under the Khmer Rouge and its gradual reemergence after Pol Pot, the restoration of the monastic order's prerevolutionary institutional forms, and the emergence of contemporary Buddhist groupings.
- Reviews and Endorsements
“[An] extremely impressive work. . . . A necessary starting point for anyone seriously interested in Cambodian Buddhism, and clearly also an extremely valuable resource for those exploring Buddhism in other parts of Southeast Asia and beyond. It is, in fact, indispensible for anyone studying the Buddhist cultures of South and Southeast Asia and, even more importantly, for anyone studying the range of Buddhist-related moral positions articulated within those cultures, even when one may himself or herself find them deeply problematic.” —Journal of Buddhist Ethics (18, 2011)
"Cambodian Buddhism stands as an enormous accomplishment and should be read by all those interested in Buddhism, Cambodia, and Southeast Asian history." —Religious Studies Review (35:2, June 2009)"Nothing less than a remarkable feat. . . . Harris’s work is genuinely comprehensive. . . . An extraordinary book: a sort of google-earth view of Buddhism in Cambodia, from the smallest details to the biggest picture. Ian Harris is a new star in the Khmer studies constellation whose next contribution is eagerly awaited." —Buddhist Studies Review(24:2, 2007)
"A fascinating book that contains a wealth of material that would require a series of reviews to discuss fully. It is a resource on Cambodia that adds enormously to the literature of Southeast Asian Buddhism. . . . It will become a pivotal work on the subject."—Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (16:1, 2006)
"An ambitious, but thorough history of Cambodian Buddhism. It is an essential resource for anyone working on contemporary Southeast Asian history, and indispensable for scholars of Cambodia." —New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies (June 2006)
"A landmark study of Cambodian Buddhism from a historical perspective. . . . A superb, detailed work. . . . Highly recommended." —Choice (September 2005)
"<i> Cambodian Buddhism: History and Practice<i/>, is itself nothing less than a remarkable feat. Harris's work is genuinely comprehensive. It makes intellignet use of a mind-boggling amount and range of material..." - Ashley Thompson, School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, Univeristy of Leeds, Buddhist Studies Review (24:2) (2007) "The work is a necessary starting point for anyone seriously interested in Cambodian Buddhism, and clearly is also an extremely valuable resource for those exploring Buddhism in other parts of Southeast Asia and beyond." - Jason A. Carbine, Whittier College, Journal of Buddhist Ethics "It is not only fascinating history of Buddhism in Cambodia but also an insight into the recent troubled history of this great Buddhism country. The masterly scholarship of <i>Cambodian Buddhism<i/> is the subject of Ian Harris's May 2006 lecture at the Society." Middle Way (Vol 81:1) (May 2006) "This book successfully addresses an important need in Buddhist studies by providing a general history and overview of Cambodian Buddhism...<i>Cambodian Buddhism<i/> stands as an enormous accomplishment and should be read by all those interested in Buddhism, Cambodia, and Southeast Asian history." - Erik Davis, Macalester College, Religious Studies Review (Vol 35:No 2) (June 2009)