Placing the Origins of the Buddha: An Island, Its People, and an Orientalist Odyssey
Our understanding that the Buddha emerged from the Middle Gangetic region of the Indian subcontinent has been largely unchallenged for the past 200 years. However, can we truly trust our existing knowledge regarding the geographical locations associated with early Buddhism? Could the Buddha’s origins, in fact, lie elsewhere? Tracking the general theory explaining the Buddha’s emergence from the Middle Ganges, this book explores the lesser-known story of colonial Sri Lanka’s connections to the wider nineteenth-century orientalist quest of placing the Buddha across the northern expanses of the subcontinent. By doing so, this book highlights the many flaws and inconsistencies that continue to inform our current understanding of the Buddha’s geographical origins and urges us to rethink the very foundation on which our knowledge of early Buddhism is based.
Bhadrajee S. Hewage is currently a DPhil student in History at Trinity College, University of Oxford, funded by the Scatcherd European Scholarship, Cooper-Max Beloff Scholarship, and the Clarendon Fund. He holds an MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies from St. Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge, where he was a Prize Research Student at the Joint Centre for History and Economics, and he also holds an AB in History from Princeton University, along with minors in African Studies, Latin American Studies, and South Asian Studies. His published work has appeared in Contemporary Buddhism, the Journal of the Oxford University History Society, and The Noesis Review.
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