Violent Karma Stories in Contemporary Sinhala Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 27, 2020

Violent Karma Stories in Contemporary Sinhala Buddhism

James Stewart
Deakin University

Buddhism is a religion normally respected for its message of non-violence. In this article I will discuss how images of violence are used as a means to compel Buddhists to act in accordance with Buddhist ethical principles. This will be shown through the examination of a contemporary newspaper series from the popular Sinhala language Lankādīpa Irida periodical. In it, we find a series of karma stories that illustrate how examples of violence can be found in modern Buddhistic narratives, both in written and pictorial forms. In this article it will be argued that these modern narratives have a precedent in much earlier, and in some cases ancient, Buddhist writings and art. I will argue that these modern narratives deviate from canonical karma stories in that they focus on the maturation of karma in this life while the former focus on the afterlife. The purpose of these modern stories is to assure the reader of the reality of karma and to entertain the reader with gruesome stories that feature the death of moral transgressors. Read article

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