The Religious World of Kīrti Śrī has been written primarily for undergraduate and graduate students of religion, particularly those who have found Buddhism to be a fascinating subject. My colleagues in the disciplines of the history of religions, social history, and art history, as well as those in the fields of Buddhist studies, South Asian studies, and Sri Lankan studies, may also find some novel interest in this book.
Unlike many previous and more conventional approaches that Western religion scholars have taken in the study of Buddhism, this book is not concerned primarily with philosophical ideas or philological issues germane to a specific school or authoritative text of South or East Asian Buddhism, though some interesting philosophical notions from literary and artistic sources will be considered throughout this book. Nor is this book solely a social history of the political dynamics that affect cultural transformations within the context of Buddhism's oldest continuing historical tradition, though social history and cultural renaissance are the fundamental venues and significant consequences of the events that will be considered. Rather, this work is primarily an interdisciplinary examination of what it meant for various people, lay and monastic, to be Buddhists during the advent of European colonialism and before indigenous Sinhalese reactions to Western intellectual and political hegemony began to foster the contours of what has become a "modern" Buddhist (yet sometimes reactionary) religious perspective. It is an exploration of "classical" Buddhist world views, especially the one revived and represented by a harried and insecure king, Kīrti Śrī RU+010, during the middle of the eighteenth century in Kandy, an up-country