Buddhist Studies Review, Vol 26, No 1 (2009)

Phra Payutto and Debates ‘On the Very Idea of the Pali Canon’ in Thai Buddhism

Martin Seeger
Issued Date: 22 Aug 2009


In this paper I investigate a number of public intellectual debates in current Thai Theravada Buddhism that are related to several fundamental questions regarding the meaning and function of the Pali canon. The focal point of this investigation will be debates in which the Thai scholar monk Phra Payutto (b. 1939) has been playing a significant role. In these debates, the Pali canon is regarded as a central text endowed with special normative and formative authority. I will look at contestations that concern Theravada-ness and, at the same time, and inextricably linked with this, at concepts of demarcation to systems of religious beliefs and practices that are believed to be ‘outside’ Theravada. This, of course, engages the question of inclusivism, exclusivism and pluralism within Theravada. In so doing, I explore and posit concepts on the meanings and functions of the Pali canon that position it either as the or an authoritative reference.

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DOI: 10.1558/bsrv.v26i1.1


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