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By Michael. Carrithers

Anthropological and ancient learn

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Extra resources for The Forest Monks of Sri Lanka: An Anthropological and Historical Study

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The Island Hermitage has only a fi� e two-foot bronze image in the diina fiiliiva. This suggests the relatively smaller im­ portance the Europeans lend to Buddhist piety, jn which they were not trained from childhood (unlike the Sinhalese) . Third, the library, though it has a smaller counterpart at most Sin­ halese hermitages, is that of a working scholar. This is perh aps the most significant difference. Some of the Europeans have been productive scholars in their own right, translating and ex­ plicating the Pali canon and commentaries in European lan­ guages ; and this solitary scholarly activity has betokened their relatively great isolation from their surroundings.

I have argued this in detail elsewhere, 21 and will merely describe it briefly here. In the . canonical literature, folklore, habitual social arrangements, and child-rearing prac­ tices of the Buddhist Sinhalese are enshrined a constellation of values and images which include physical cleanliness, moral purity, and legitimate authority (political, religious, or familial) . These are given force by their opposition to another constella­ tion, which includes bodily filth, sin, low status, and-this is the real point of it-the torments of hell, with flames, razor-sharp cutting edges, and oceans of excrement.

It is the society of drawing-rooms, and of the city. cterize the problem sociologically : it demands that a single polite manner be universally applied to a potentially endless range of individuals whose relations with oneself are in fact quite different. The consequence is that the idea of a sharp division between one's feelings and one's manner -whatever the intellectual source of the idea-receives con­ tinual confirmation. And so Holderlin and von Feuchtersleben, despite their very different personalities, wish to flee to the arms of Nature.

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