Contents: Introduction. I. Background: 1. Religion and Politics: An Analytical Framework. 2. Nature of Sri Lankan Society, Polity and Economy. 3. The Sangha: Evolution, Growth and Organisational Structure. II. Sangha and Politics: 4. The Sangha and Sinhalese Buddhist Nationalism. 5. The Sangha’s Role in Electoral Politics. III. Sangha and Ethnic Conflict: 6. The Sangha’s Response to the Ethnic Conflict and Peace Processes. Conclusion. References. Appendices.
The book makes an attempt to analyse the Buddhist Sangha’s role in Sri Lankan politics and ethnic conflict. The Sangha’s role and growth before 1983 is also discussed in detail, as it laid the foundation for the Sangha to emerge as a potent force in Sri Lanka’s politics and played a vital role in the culmination of the ethnic conflict. Although there is considerable literature on Sri Lankan politics, ethnic conflict and peace process in general, there are only a few studies exclusively focusing on the Sangha’s role in depth.
In March 2018, the Sri Lankan government imposed the state of emergency and blocked the social media platforms to curb the violence against the Muslims in Kandy district. This emergency was the first since the end of the civil war. Although the alleged role of radical monks and Sinhalese-Buddhist outfits in this violence is ruled out, yet targeting the ethnic and religious minorities like Sri Lankan Tamils, Christians and Muslims is nothing new to the island. Apparently, the anti-minority violence and hate speech perpetuated by the radical monks and the Sinhalese- Buddhist chauvinistic outfits against Christians and Muslims have intensified in the post-2009 period. Hence, many wonder why a country which got its independence without any bloodshed and did not have violent political traditions underwent this kind of violence. Furthermore Sri Lanka’s dominant religion was Buddhism, and the Buddhist Sangha - preaching non-violence and peace - was highly influential. Yet, the society was afflicted with a protracted conflict and the Sangha itself contributed to the emergence of Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism, generating and legitimising intolerance, hatred and violence. In this context, the book attempts to analyse the role of Buddhist Sangha in Sri Lankan politics and the ethnic conflict by particularly focusing on the entire gamut of issues since 1983.
This book is useful for college/university teachers, research scholars and students working on linkages between Buddhism, politics and ethnic violence in Sri Lanka