Updated: Understanding the politics of Buddhism

As readers will know, PPT has said several times that we are not all that well informed on the debates about the politics of Buddhism in Thailand.

As we have watched the military dictatorship’s heavy-handed actions against Wat Dhammakaya, aided and abetted by the palace and much of the mainstream media, we have been reading bits and pieces to try and better understand these  events.

One of the more interesting and relevant articles we have seen is by academic Duncan McCargo, from Critical Asian Studies in 2012.

The Changing Politics of Thailand’s Buddhist Order,”  available for free download, may turn out to be wrong in one conclusion if the junta has its way: “Like it or not, Wat Phra Thammakai was here to stay.” Yet the rest of the paper has valuable insights and background on the current effort to crush it.

Update: It seems the junta has more or less succeeded in taking over the Dhammakaya temple. The Bangkok Post reports that the Ministry of Justice will “set up a ‘joint command’ inside the temple to take over its management and maintain order…”. PPT may be uninformed, but we can’t think of another instance where the state has invaded and taken over the running of a temple. As usual, we suspect that the story now will be watch and follow the money.

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