Kemper in London on Anagarika Dharmapala and the Buddhist World

Listen to PODCAST by Steven E. Kemper introducing his book Rescued from the Nation: Anagarika Dharmapala and the Buddhist World (U of Chicago Press, 2015) from New Books in Buddhist Studies … in London …..


FLIER:  Rescued from the Nation. Anagarika Dharmapala and the Buddhist World

Steven Kemper

480 pages | 18 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2015
Anagarika Dharmapala is one of the most galvanizing figures in Sri Lanka’s recent turbulent history. He is widely regarded as the nationalist hero who saved the Sinhala people from cultural collapse and whose “protestant” reformation of Buddhism drove monks toward increased political involvement and ethnic confrontation. Yet as tied to Sri Lankan nationalism as Dharmapala is in popular memory, he spent the vast majority of his life abroad, engaging other concerns. In Rescued from the Nation, Steven Kemper reevaluates this important figure in the light of an unprecedented number of his writings, ones that paint a picture not of a nationalist zealot but of a spiritual seeker earnest in his pursuit of salvation.

Drawing on huge stores of source materials—nearly one hundred diaries and notebooks—Kemper reconfigures Dharmapala as a world-renouncer first and a political activist second. Following Dharmapala on his travels between East Asia, South Asia, Europe, and the United States, he traces his lifelong project of creating a unified Buddhist world, recovering the place of the Buddha’s Enlightenment, and imitating the Buddha’s life course. The result is a needed corrective to Dharmapala’s embattled legacy, one that resituates Sri Lanka’s political awakening within the religious one that was Dharmapala’s life project.


Introduction: World Renunciation in a Nineteenth-Century World

1. Dharmapala as Theosophist
2. Buddhists in Japan
3. Universalists Abroad
4. Dharmapala, the British, and the Bengalis
5. Dharmapala and the British Empire
6. World Wanderer Returns Home

Appendix 1. The Diaries and Notebooks Explained
Appendix 2. A Chronology of the Life of Anagarika Dharmapala


Filed under Buddhism, centre-periphery relations, cultural transmission, education, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, Indian religions, Indian traditions, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, patriotism, politIcal discourse, power politics, religious nationalism, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, tolerance, unusual people, violence of language, world affairs, zealotry

2 responses to “Kemper in London on Anagarika Dharmapala and the Buddhist World

  1. Pingback: Michael Roberts in Conversation in London, 8 March 2018 | Thuppahi's Blog

  2. Pingback: Anagarika Dharmapala in Ceylon and the World: Missing Dimensions highlighted by Kemper | Thuppahi's Blog

Leave a Reply