meeting : "The ‘Holy Man’ (Ton Bun) Tradition of Lanna Buddhism."
Tuesday 13 Jan
talk by Paul T. Cohen
Northern Thailand has a long tradition of ‘holy men’ (ton bun) shared with Tai and non-Tai
of northern Laos, Sipsongpanna (Yunnan) and northeastern Burma. The
most famous ‘holy man’ in recent times is the forest monk Khruba
Siwichai (1878-1939). In this talk I discuss the religious beliefs and
practices of Khruba Siwichai and other exemplars of the modern ‘holy
man’ tradition, in particular the contemporary charismatic forest monk
Khruba Bunchum. I argue that this tradition is a form of religious
revivalism devoted to moral regeneration and the creation of a ‘Buddha
Land’ (Buddhadesa) and marked by a
unique combination of reclusive
asceticism and worldly activism. My talk will conclude with some
observations on recent incipient trends towards the nationalisation and
commercialisation of this Lanna tradition.
Cohen is a retired Associate Professor of anthropology and currently
holds the honorary position of Senior Research Fellow in the Department
of Anthropology at Macquarie University, Sydney. He has conducted
periodic field research in northern Thailand since the late 1960s and
in northern Laos since the mid 1990s. His research and teaching
interests range widely from agrarian issues, medical anthropology and
public health, illicit drugs, and Buddhism. He has published six
journal articles and one book chapter on
Buddhism, mostly related to
the Lanna ‘holy man’ tradition. In late January 2015 he has planned a
workshop on Charismatic Monks of Lanna Buddhism to be hosted by the
Center for Ethnic Studies and Development, Chiang Mai University..
Want to read more?
(PDF File for downloading or reading on line - 10 pages).