The Wheel-Turning King and the Lucky Lottery: Perspectives New and Old on Wealth and Merriment within Buddhism

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By placing a contemporary pilgrimage of Myanmar Buddhists to Bodh Gaya in India in conversation with early Buddhist doctrine and practice, this article argues that wealth, its redistribution and celebration, have provided, and continue to provide, non-peripheral avenues for advancement within Buddhist societies. Through lavish gift giving and merry making, the group of pilgrims that we encountered, led by a weikza-lam practitioner, bolstered their esteem in relation to authoritative institutions and individuals. Money, and the plentiful conviviality that it enabled, was crucial to the successful outcome of the pilgrimage. This article contextualises the donations and merriment of the group within the multi-layered context of a Vihār in Bodh Gaya, with its religious hierarchies, at the former site of the dissemination of the globally successful Vipassanā meditation movement, and within the realities of a town marked by stark material inequalities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Contemporary Religion
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)265-286
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sep 2021

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