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    Fundamentalism and modernity: the case of Theravada

    Frasch, Tilman (2022) Fundamentalism and modernity: the case of Theravada. Zeitschrift für Religion, Gesellschaft und Politik. ISSN 2510-1218

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    Abstract

    The article investigates the possibility of the Theravada fraternity at the Mahavihara monastery of Sri Lanka became a ‘fundamentalist’ movement especially in its quarrel with king Mahasena in the 4th century CE. Beginning with defining the crucial constituents of fundamentalism, the article explores the major organisational and religious conflict lines between the three monastic traditions and highlights the use of Pali as a specific language to encode the canon. Though not all of the aspects of the definition are met, the Mahavihara showed clear signs of an inward-looking, exclusivist and scripturalist movement; features that it shares with ‘fundamentalist’ movements. The article thus questions the relatively fixed connection between fundamentalism and modernity, which is a common feature of current research on fundamentalism.

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