Thailand's Theory of Monarchy: The Vessantara Jataka and the Idea of the Perfect Man

SUNY Press
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Discusses the origins and cultural history of the Theravada Buddhist ideals behind the Thai institution of monarchy.

Since the 2006 coup d’état, Thailand has been riven by two opposing political visions: one which aspires to a modern democracy and the rule of law, and another which holds to the traditional conception of a kingdom ruled by an exemplary Buddhist monarch. Thailand has one of the world’s largest populations of observant Buddhists and one of its last politically active monarchies. This book examines the Theravada Buddhist foundations of Thailand’s longstanding institution of monarchy. Patrick Jory states that the storehouse of monarchical ideology is to be found in the popular literary genre known as the J?takas, tales of the Buddha’s past lives. The best-known of these, the Vessantara J?taka, disseminated an ideal of an infinitely generous prince as a bodhisatta or future Buddha—an ideal which remains influential in Thailand today. Using primary and secondary source materials largely unknown in Western scholarship, Jory traces the history of the Vessantara J?taka and its political-cultural importance from the ancient to the modern period. Although pressures from European colonial powers and Buddhist reformers led eventually to a revised political conception of the monarchy, the older Buddhist ideal of kingship has yet endured.


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About the author

Patrick Jory is Senior Lecturer in Southeast Asian History at the University of Queensland and the editor ofGhosts of the Past in Southern Thailand: Essays on the History and Historiography of Patani.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
May 9, 2016
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Pages
302
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ISBN
9781438460901
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Asia / Southeast Asia
Religion / Buddhism / History
Religion / Buddhism / Theravada
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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