The Work of Kings: The New Buddhism in Sri Lanka

Examines the turbulent modern history and sociology of the Sri Lankan Buddhist Monkhood and its effects upon contemporary society. Using translated Sinhalese documents and interviews with monks, Sri Lankan anthropologist H.L. Seneviratne unravels the inner workings of this New Buddhism and the ideology on which it is based. Beginning with Anagarika Dharmapala's rationalization of Buddhism in the early-20th century, which called for monks to take on a more activist role in the community, Seneviratne shows how the monks have graduallyu revised their role to include involvement in political and economic spheres. The altruistic, morally pure monks of Dharmapala's dream have become, Seneviratne argues, self-centered and arrogant, concealing self-aggrandizement behind a facade of social service .