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The Buddhist Saints of the Forest and the Cult of Amulets

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Part of Cambridge Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology

  • Date Published: June 1984
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521277877

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  • The central actors in this book are some reclusive forest-dwelling ascetic meditation masters who have been acclaimed as 'saints' in contemporary Thailand. These saints originally pursued their salvation quest among the isolated villages of the country's periphery, but once recognized as holy men endowed with charisma, they became the radiating centres of a country-wide cult of amulets. The amulets, blessed by the saints, are avidly sought by royalty, ruling generals, intelligentsia and common folk alike for their alleged powers to influence the success of worldly transactions, whether political, economic, martial or romantic.

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 1984
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521277877
    • length: 432 pages
    • dimensions: 222 x 152 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.544kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    Part I. The arahant and the Path of Meditation:
    2. The Buddhist conception of the arahant
    3. The Path of Purification: the ascetic practices
    4. The stages and rewards of Buddhist meditation
    5. The forest-monk tradition in Southeast Asia: a historical backdrop
    Part II. The hagiography of a Buddhist saint: text and context
    the politics of sectarianism:
    6. The biography of a modern saint
    7. The Buddha's life as paradigm
    8. The ordering principles behind Buddhist saintly biography
    9. The disciples of the Master
    10. The biographer as exemplary forest-monk, meditator, and teacher
    11. Sectarianism and the sponsorship of meditation
    12. The Mandnikdi sect's propagation of lay meditation
    13. The center–periphery dialectic: the Mahathat and Bovonniwet sponsorship of meditation compared
    Part III. The cult of amulets: the objectification and transmission of charisma:
    14. The cult of images and amulets
    15. An enumeration of historic and popular amulets
    16. The 'likeness' of the image to the original Buddha: the case of the Shillala Buddha
    17. The process of sacralizing images and amulets: the transfer of power by monks
    18. Amulets blessed by contemporary forest saints
    19. Saints on cosmic mountains
    Part IV. Conceptual and theoretical clarifications:
    20. A commentary on millennial Buddhism in Thailand and Burma
    21. The sources of charismatic leadership: Max Weber revisited
    22. The objectification of charisma and the fetishism of objects

  • Author

    Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah

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