Society, State and Religion in Premodern Sri Lanka – Amaradasa Liyanagamage

‘Society, State and Religion in Premodern Sri Lanka’ presents a cross-section view of the political, social and cultural landscape of premodern Sri Lanka in a new light. The Island’s relations with the South Indian mainland with special reference to Tamil Nadu and Kerala are set in a different perspective, modifying the rather one-sided view of eternal hostility from the opposite shores. Relations between the Sinhalese and the people of South Indian origin in the Island as well as those between the state and the Buddhist Order have also been subjected to a close scrutiny and a rigorous reappraisal. A rare occurrence of forcible conversion of people to a non-Buddhist faith by an Indian invader, his intervention in the traditional caste structure, issues related to monastic life, the beginnings of the influence of caste on the Buddhist Order and finally, Sigiriya, the ancient city of secular splendour and scenic grandeur are some of the other principal themes covered in this study.  The issues examined here are of enormous relevance to the understanding of contemporary politics and society in this Asian island.