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
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.