Richard F. Young, courtesy of Meiji Gakuin University in Japan and where it appeared in print in 1995
Abstract: A Sri Lankan folktale presenting Jesus as a delusory emanation of Mara is discussed here for its significance in understanding how Christianity was seen by the early-modern Sinhalese. By depicting Jesus as demonic and his teachings as inimical to Buddhism, Sri Lankans situated Christianity in the context of the cosmic rivalry between the Dhamma and the disordering forces of Mara. The Hindu background of certain motifs in the folktale is considered, as are its probable origins in the religio-political milieu of the eighteenth-century Kandyan kingdom and its relevance to later Buddhist revivalists. This study also questions empiricist approaches to Sri Lankan historiography, and proposes that folklore provides scholars with an invaluable supplement to Western documentary materials and the island’s official chronicles when attempting to reconstruct the indigenous perception of European Christianity.
Keywords: Buddhism and Christianity — Jātaka— Jesus — Māra — Milinda —Rājāvaliya