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Translating Buddhism

  • Stephen L. Keck
Chapter
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Part of the Britain and the World book series (BAW)

Abstract

British observers were nearly united in finding Buddhism to be one of the most conspicuous features of Burma.1 Buddhism might well be regarded as one of the country’s picturesque signifiers as the title of Gwendolen Trench Gascoigne’s Among Pagodas and Fair Ladies (1896) suggests. Nonetheless, British assessments of Buddhism (which included its relationship with nat worship) diverged beyond these most basic considerations. This chapter will exhibit some of the range of this divergence: Nisbet and Talbot Kelly wondered about Buddhism’s durability in the face of modernity and Christian missions. Taw Sein Ko, himself a committed Buddhist, understood the religion to be one of the cornerstones (the British empire was another) for the successful modernization of Burma. In contrast, Harold Fielding-Hall followed Sir George Scott and wrote from a Burmaphilic position to enable their readers (both colonial and metropolitan) to understand the appealing and humanistic side of the religion. The chapter will call attention to British converts to Buddhism and end with considerations that while many of these figures were publishing, the YMBA was born. At the same time, despite the fact that Buddhism was part of the Burmascape in that for all Britons it helped to signify Burma, the British were not alert to ways in which the religion itself was being transformed by developments in the 19th century.

Keywords

Religious Practice Moral Life British Rule British Empire Buddhist Education 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 13.
    Bhikkhu Ananda Metteyya (Allan Bennett), The Religion of Burma and Other Papers (Aydar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1929), pp. vi–viii.Google Scholar
  2. 19.
    The Rev. W.C.B. Purser and K.J. Saunders (editors), Modern Buddhism in Burma (Rangoon: The Christian Literature Society, 1914).Google Scholar
  3. 29.
    Almond, The British Discovery of Buddhism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), p. 4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 35.
    Donald S. Lopez (ed.), Curators of the Buddha: The Study of Buddhism Under Colonialism (Chicago, 1995), pp. 2–4.Google Scholar
  5. 36.
    For more on the quest for the historical Jesus see: Charlotte Allen, The Human Christ (New York, 1998)Google Scholar
  6. and Leander E. Keck, The Future for the Historical Jesus (Nashville, 1971).Google Scholar
  7. 39.
    This could also include John Ruskin; see: Sharon Aronofsky Weltman, Ruskin’s Mythic Queen Gender Subversion in Victorian Culture (Athens, Ohio, 1998), pp. 39–72.Google Scholar
  8. 42.
    Ibid., pp. 16–17; also Eugene Smith, Religion and Politics in Burma (Princeton, 1965), pp. 31–6.Google Scholar
  9. 43.
    Donald Eugene Smith, Religion and Politics in Burma (Princeton, 1965), pp. 31–6.Google Scholar
  10. 44.
    Than Tun, (Paul Strachan, ed.), Essays on The History and Buddhism of Burma (Whiting Bay, 1988), pp. 152–179.Google Scholar
  11. 49.
    Harold Fielding-Hall, The Inward Light (London, 1908), p. 132.Google Scholar
  12. 57.
    Thant Myint U. The Making of Modern Burma (Cambridge, 2001), p. 209.Google Scholar
  13. 58.
    Donald Eugene Smith, Religion and Politics in Burma (Princeton, 1965), pp. 44–50.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Stephen L. Keck 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen L. Keck
    • 1
  1. 1.Emirates Diplomatic AcademyUnited Arab Emirates

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