Rebuilding Buddhism describes in evocative detail the experiences and achievements of Nepalis who have adopted Theravada Buddhism. This form of Buddhism was introduced into Nepal from Burma and Sri Lanka in the 1930’s and its adherents have struggled for recognition and acceptance ever since. With its focus on the austere figure of the monk and the biography of the historical Buddha, and more recently with its emphasis on individualizing meditation and on gender equality, Theravada Buddhism contrasts sharply with the highly ritualized Tantric Buddhism traditionally practiced in the Kathmandu Valley.
Based on extensive fieldwork, interviews, and historical reconstruction, the book provides a rich portrait of the different ways of being a Nepali Buddhist over the past seventy years. At the same time it explores the impact of the Theravada movement and what its gradual success has meant for Buddhism, for society, and for men and women in Nepal.
Sarah Le Vine is Associate in Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University. She is also the author of Mothers & Wives: Gusii Women of East Africa (University of Chicago Press, 1979), Dolor Y Alegria: Women and Social Change in Urban Mexico (University of Wisconsin Press, 1993), and The Saint of Kathmandu: Tales of the Sacred in Distant Lands (Beacon Press, 2008).
David N. Gellner is Professor of Social Anthropology and Fellow of All Souls, University of Oxford. Among his other books are Resistance and the State: Nepalese Experiences (Social Science Press, 2003), The Anthropology of Buddhism and Hinduism: Weberian Themes (OUP,2001), Contested Hierarchies: A Collaborative Ethnography of Caste among the Newars of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal (OUP, 1995), and Monk, Householder and Tantric Priest: Newar Buddhism and its Hierarchy of Ritual (Cambridge University Press, 1992).