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The “imagining” of Sri Lanka as a Buddhist nation by Dharmapala and others has been among the most consequential developments of the country’s history. How do their “later readings” of the

The “imagining” of Sri Lanka as a Buddhist nation by Dharmapala and others has been among the most consequential developments of the country’s history. How do their “later readings” of the Mahavamsa help to create this vision of the nation? To what degree is this continuous or discontinuous with the Mahavamsa as a “text of its day”? That is, to what degree is his reading a product of modern and/or British assumptions versus an extension of ideas or orientations already present in the text?

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Anagarika Dharmapala (1864–1933), an important Sri Lankan nationalist, was a scholar of Buddhism who studied and wrote extensively on Buddhist teachings that contributed to the formation of the anti-British independence movement in Sri Lanka. Originally named Don David Hewavitharane, Dharmapala was born into a very wealthy Sinhala family and took the name Anagarika Dharmapala after joining a Buddhist school established by the American theosophist, Colonel...

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