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Bramley, Jane (1969) The relationship between the monastic and lay communities in Ayutthaya, Central Thailand. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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It is assumed by many anthropologists that the tenets of Therevada Buddhism are interpreted in an unaltered form by its adherents. I suggest, however, that practical compromises are made, and it is my purpose in the present thesis to describe and to analyze some of the differences which exist between the Word of the Buddha as it is expressed in the Scriptures, and as it is implemented on the ground.;Although there is a broad general consensus as to what the practice of Theravada Buddhism entails it became clear from my study of the relationship existing between the monks and laymen of Ayutthaya (Central Thailand) that an individual's socio-economic circumstances affect his religious behaviour to a significant degree.;Furthermore, an examination of the relationships which existed within the monastic and lay communities respectively made it possible to assess the repercussions of the practice of Theravada Buddhism in the wider social context. I contend that the practical implementation of the Word of the Buddha, far from tending to loosen links between individual actors as is often maintained, does on the contrary serve to promote greater social cohesion. The loosely-structured (Embree 1950) or very fluid nature of Thai society is better explained with reference to certain political and economic peculiarities of the situation.;I begin my analysis of the issues outlined above by examining the role of the Buddhist monk, its attributes its function for the lay community, and its appeal for individuals from different social strata. In the second place I describe and analyze the relationship existing between the monastic community as a whole and the laymen who support it. Finally, I look at the problems with which this thesis is concerned, from the layman's point of view, by examining not only his links with the Order of Monks, but also those with friends and relatives in the lay community which are activated in the connection with religious affairs.;Although this thesis is primarily intended to provide a contribution on both descriptive and analytical levels to the study of society in Thailand, it is possible that some of the conclusions reached are applicable to other societies where Theravada Buddhism is practised.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:30

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