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Buddhadharma : Fall 2010
73 fall 2 01 0 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly Although all major world religions claim to advocate peace, they have had a mixed record of living up to their professed values. The biblical religions—Judaism, Chris- tianity, and Islam—are widely seen as being embroiled in the violence that periodically flares in the Middle East. Hinduism and Sikhism’s reputations as peaceful religions are likewise impaired by outbreaks of violence between their communi- ties in India. Buddhism also has a reputation of being a nonviolent reli- gion, but history tells a different story, as the current conflicts in Sri Lanka and Thailand attest. Anyone who is interested in learning more about Buddhism’s ambiguous relationship with violence would be well advised to read the newly published anthology Buddhist Warfare, edited by Michael Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer. As Jerryson indicates in his introduction, one of the chief goals of this volume is to challenge “the social imaginary that holds Buddhist traditions to be exclusively pacifistic and exotic.” The authors make it clear that Bud- dhist traditions, like all other religious traditions, are human institutions, and thus are not immune from the problems that afflict human communities around the world. The ViolenT Face of Buddhism DaviD B. Gray is an associate professor of religious studies at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California. He specializes in the study of Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Buddhist Warfare edited by Michael Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer Oxford university Press, 2010 $29.95; 257 pages (paperback) reviewed by david B. Gray Chronologically, the volume spans more than two thousand years, beginning with an overview of Buddhist involvement in warfare and violence during the first millennium, drawn largely from East Asian sources. This is followed by an explo- ration of a Mahayana sutra that sanctions warfare under cer- tain conditions. The collection then jumps to the early modern period, with essays on legally sanctioned violence and warfare in Mongolia and Tibet during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These are followed by essays on the “patriotic” support given by Buddhists to war efforts during the twenti- eth century—in Japan during the wars of the first half of the twentieth century, and in China during the Korean War. The final two essays look at the contemporary conflicts involving Buddhist communities in Sri Lanka and Thailand. The focus on more modern examples will make the book of interest to a broad range of readers. The volume also makes Reviews