Drawing on primary sources in Pali, Burmese and Thai, practising monk Venerable Khammai Dhammasami guides the reader through the complex history of monastic education in two neighbouring countries with very different Buddhist societies: Burma and Thailand.
This book provides a clear account of the ways in which royal leaders and monastic institutions worked to develop monastic education in the face of changing political and economic conditions, including colonialism and the political instability of the 19th and 20th centuries. It studies influences from both British colonists and Siamese/Thai reformers, and engages with primary material, including documents from Burmese monasteries, royal orders, royal chronicles, and official government records.
As the first book to examine monastic education in Burma and Thailand, this is a welcome contribution to the social, monastic and religious history of Southeast Asia, and the growing field of Burmese Buddhist Studies.
Ven. Dhammasami has contributed an excellent overview of the history of Buddhist monastic education in Burma, bringing the fresh perspective of a practicing monk and teacher to this much needed study. * Justin McDaniel, Chair of Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania, USA *
A thought-provoking and impressively referenced publication on the role of education in the past, present and future of Buddhism. The author lucidly explains the changing role of the Sangha and the often-sobering implications. This seminal work provides an essential perspective for many different disciplines. Most obviously are education and religious studies, but the insights on past royal and monastic relationships offer vital lessons to ensure a sustainable future for Buddhist cultural heritage. * Elizabeth Moore, Professor of South East Asian Art and Archaeology, SOAS, University of London, UK *
The Buddhist monastic education in Burma and Thailand from the early modern period to the present and its current predicament is analysed here by one of the most knowledgeable and versatile members of the Sangha, deeply involved in both traditions, and has himself followed through the system of education he discusses. With his wide exposure to both traditional Asian and modern Western academic traditions, the author draws from a wide variety of sources, and analyses the two monastic education systems with remarkable objectivity and impartiality. The end result is a future-oriented work forging a middle path between idealism and pragmatism. * Asanga Tilakaratne, Senior Professor of Pali and Buddhist Studies, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka *
In this book, Ven. Dhammasami provides an overview of the history of monastic syllabus in Burma and in Thailand since the 17th century. He highlights changes in the interface between the Sangha and the monarchy/state. Government and lay organizations have increasingly formalized and shaped monastic education over time, including standardizing syllabuses and examinations on a national basis. This leaves little scope for local innovation and meeting of student objectives. Ven. Dhammasami's excellent authoritative work is extremely valuable as an insider's view of Sangha education and will serve as valuable landmark at a time of reform. * Gustaaf Houtman, Editor at Anthropology Today for the Royal Anthropological Institute, UK *