In 1956, Theravada Buddhists in Sri Lanka and throughout Southeast Asia celebrated the 2500th anniversary of the Buddha's entry into Nirvana and of the establishment of the Buddhist tradition. This book examines this revival of Theravada Buddhism among the laity of Sri Lanka, analysing its origins and its growth up to the present-day. Within the spectrum of reinterpretations that have comprised the revival, the book focuses on four important types or patterns of reinterpretation and response. It examines the rational reformism of the early "Protestant Buddhists" led by Anagarika Dharmapala and the conservative neotraditionalism of the Jayanti period.
Particular attention is given to two of the most recent and dynamic reforms, the insight meditation movement, breaking with tradition, has
opened the path of meditation to lay people, enabling them to seek Nirvana without renouncing the world. The sarvodaya Shramadana movement has addressed the social context, reinterpreting the Buddhist heritage to derive authentic forms of Buddhist social development. Comprising this series of interpretations and options for lay Buddhists, the Buddhist revival represents a new gradual path to Nirvana.
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