Abstract/Details

THE CONCEPT OF 'DHAMMA' IN THAI BUDDHISM: A STUDY IN THE THOUGHT OF VAJIRANANA AND BUDDHADASA


1985 1985

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Abstract (summary)

Dhamma is one of the most important and most difficult concepts in Pali Buddhism. Its significance lies in the fact that the term points to both the essence and the goal of Buddhism. Its ambiguity, how- ever, results from the variety of the term's interpretations depending on its contexts. This dissertation analyzes the concept of dhamma in the writings of the two foremost interpreters of Thai Buddhism in the modern and contemporary periods, Vajiranana (1860-1921) and Buddhadasa (1906- ), who, in differing ways, attempt to recover the original teaching of the Buddha's dhamma. The study first describes the range of meanings of the term in the Pali canonical materials, and selected western interpreters, before focusing on its normative and popular significance in Thai Buddhism. After discussing the histori- cal context in which Vajiranana and Buddhadasa have worked, the dissertation then provides a detailed exposition of their interpreta- tions of dhamma. Through an analysis of their institutional roles and written corpus, the dissertation establishes the distinctive nature of the substance and method of their teachings. We find that Vajiranana closely follow the Theravada scholastic tradition as epitomized by Buddhaghosa; and that his strong emphasis on dhamma as moral norm is consistent with the efforts of the Thai government of his days to use religion to help build a strong nation-state. Buddha- dasa breaks away from traditional Theravada exegetical methods and attitude toward scriptures. Advancing a theory of religious lan- guage/truth not unlike Madhyamika, he emphasizes the ontological nature of dhamma. In particular, he interprets dhamma in terms of the Thai term for "nature," dhammajati, which he equates with "the normal" (pakati), dependent orgination (paticcasamuppada), and emptiness (sunnata).

In addition to analyzing the content of their thought to get at their distinctive interpretations of dhamma, the dissertation also contrasts the styles of Vajiranana and Buddhadasa in terms of Weberian-type categories, viewing Vajiranana as a charismatic priest and an ideal of the Buddha's right-hand disciple--a scholar-administrator (ganthadhura) monk--while Buddhadasa is a charismatic prophet and an ideal of the Buddha's left-hand disciple--a forest-dwelling meditator (vipassanadhura) monk.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Philosophy
Classification
0422: Philosophy
Identifier / keyword
Philosophy, religion and theology
Title
THE CONCEPT OF 'DHAMMA' IN THAI BUDDHISM: A STUDY IN THE THOUGHT OF VAJIRANANA AND BUDDHADASA
Author
SIRIKANCHANA, PATARAPORN
Number of pages
372
Publication year
1985
Degree date
1985
School code
0175
Source
DAI-A 46/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
University/institution
University of Pennsylvania
University location
United States -- Pennsylvania
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
8603702
ProQuest document ID
303374110
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
http://search.proquest.com/docview/303374110
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