The Religious World of Kirti Sri: Buddhism, Art, and Politics in Late Medieval Sri Lanka

By John Clifford Holt | Go to book overview

2
Discourses of a Buddhist King

The Kandyan epic ballad Mandārampura Puvata, 1 and the Theravāda monastic chronicle Cūlavaṃsa, both venerable sources of Sinhala Buddhist tradition, present, almost as a matter of course, a smooth transition in the middle of the eighteenth century from Sinhala royalty to "foreign" Tamil Nāyakkar rule, a transition accomplished with seeming ease as the result of the Nāyakkars' conversion to Theravāda Buddhism from Śaivite Hinduism and their continued appeal to the prestige of matrilineal descent (from the Ksatriya, the warrior caste) through the South Indian house of Madurai. 2

[ King Narendrasinghe], as [he] had neither son nor daughter to succeed to the royal splendour, acting in accordance with the wishes of the monk [ Saranankaral and ministers [decided on] the brother of the queen who is descended from the pure royal line of Madurā and who is supreme in virtue [and] taking that Vaḍiga prince's right hand, [the king] placed it on the hand of the monk Saranankara [telling him], "teach him the [Buddhist] doctrine and the arts and get him to protect well the śāsana and the kingdom in the future." 3

After Narindasiha's death, the younger brother of the Maheśi of this king became king, adorned with the ornament of virtue. Known by

-15-

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The Religious World of Kirti Sri: Buddhism, Art, and Politics in Late Medieval Sri Lanka
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • 1 - Kīrti Śrī's Predicament 3
  • 2 - Discourses of a Buddhist King 15
  • 3 - A Visual Liturgy 41
  • Details of the Liturgy: Wall Paintings from the Time of Kīrti Śrī *
  • 4 - Royalty Reborn 73
  • 5 - Implications for Theory and Method 91
  • 6 - Postscript: Ethnic Identity and Alienation 97
  • Appendix the Religious Works of Kīrti Śrī at Gangārāma and Ridī Vihāra 109
  • Notes 115
  • Bibliography 135
  • Index 141
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