A talk on Theravada Buddhism by Professor Henrietta Kate Crosby of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), UK. Part of the UCLA Center for Buddhist Studies Numata Colloquium Series.
Theravada is often equated with early Buddhism and assumed to be free from later developments, such as tantra, which is seen as a development within Mahayana. However, throughout the Theravada world an increasing amount of evidence has come to light of tantric-like practices. These practices were popular, perhaps even mainstream, until the early 19th century, and are still practised in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Yet the modern expectations of Theravada, influenced by reforms throughout the 18th-20th centuries, has led to these practices being dismissed as artificial, mere 'folk religion' or a modern, heretical borrowing from Tibet. The pan-Theravada nature of these practices is unfamiliar to scholars, practitioners and detractors alike, and its history largely forgotten. This paper explores how this is so and questions whether the evidence requires us to see these practices as essentially alien to Theravada.
Cost: Free and Open to the Public
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