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New Book: Buddhist Warfare

Saturday 5 December 2009, by siawi2

H-ASIA, Dec. 4 2009

Mark Juergensmeyer and I would like to announce the publication of our co-edited volume next month:

BUDDHIST WARFARE, edited by Michael Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010). ISBN: 978-0-19-539483-2

From OUP’s website:

Though traditionally regarded as a peaceful religion, Buddhism has a dark side. On multiple occasions over the past fifteen centuries, Buddhist leaders have sanctioned violence, and even war. The eight essays in this book focus on a variety of Buddhist traditions, from antiquity to the present, and show that Buddhist organizations have used religious images and rhetoric to support military conquest throughout history.
Buddhist soldiers in sixth century China were given the illustrious status of Bodhisattva after killing their adversaries. In seventeenth century Tibet, the Fifth Dalai Lama endorsed a Mongol ruler’s killing of his rivals. And in modern-day Thailand, Buddhist soldiers carry out their duties undercover, as fully ordained monks armed with guns.
Buddhist Warfare demonstrates that the discourse on religion and violence, usually applied to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, can no longer exclude Buddhist traditions. The book examines Buddhist military action in Tibet, China, Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, and shows that even the most unlikely and allegedly pacifist religious traditions are susceptible to the violent tendencies of man.


“Anyone with idealized notions of Buddhism as a religion fully committed to peace and non-violence will benefit from this fine collection. Outlining how a range of Buddhists have participated in war and justified this apparent violation of their ethical principles, these essays shed new light on sacred violence, just-war discourse, religious nationalism, and religious institutions’ collaboration with the state.

This is a rich and timely book.” ---Christopher Ives, author of
Imperial-Way Zen


Introduction, Michael Jerryson

Buddhism and War, Paul Demiéville

Making Merit through Warfare According to the Arya-Bodhisattva-gocara-upayavisaya-vikurvana-nirdesa Sutra, Stephen Jenkins

Sacralized Warfare: The Fifth Dalai Lama and the Discourse of Religious
Violence, Derek F. Maher

Legalized Violence: Punitive Measures of Buddhist Khans in Mongolia, Vesna A. Wallace

A Buddhological Critique of “Soldier-Zen” in Wartime Japan, Brian Daizen Victoria

Buddhists in China during the Korean War (1951–1953), Xue Yu

Onward Buddhist Soldiers: Preaching to the Sri Lankan Army, Daniel Kent

Militarizing Buddhism: Violence in Southern Thailand, Michael Jerryson
Afterthoughts, Bernard Faure

Anyone who wishes more information may contact me off list, or visit to view more of the volume:


Michael Jerryson
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
Eckerd College - Letters Collegium
4200 54th Ave. S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33711
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