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Buddhist Warfare Paperback – January 8, 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (January 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195394844
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195394849
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #933,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Anyone with idealized notions of Buddhism as a religion fully committed to peace and non-violence will benefit from this fine collection. Outlining how a range of Buddhists have participated in war and justified this apparent violation of their ethical principles, these essays shed new light on sacred violence, just-war discourse, religious nationalism, and religious institutions' collaboration with the state. This is a rich and timely book." ---Christopher Ives, author of Imperial-Way Zen

"This book is essential reading for Buddhist scholars with any specialty, if only to foster new consideration of the systemics of Buddhist politics and new textual readings, historical framings, and theoretical frames. This volume provides fresh perspectives that make it a true contribution to the study of Buddhist violence and to Buddhist studies within global trends of religious violence. "--Journal of Global Buddhism

"An extremely valuable, edifying collection. . ."--Current Intelligence

"A fascinating work. . . "--Buddhadharma

"[T]he entire collection was a pleasure to read, and I recommend this important and timely work. Since it is such a rich and challenging resource about Budhist martial, political, and legal violence, it can only serve to realign our understanding of this tradition in a more sophisticated and complex way."--Religion Matters

"[T]he strength of the book is excellent. Buddhist Warfare deserves to be read by all Buddhist specialists and graduate students, particularly to those interested in violence in Buddhism. The book immensely contributes to Buddhist studies, the anthropological study of Buddhism, and political and Asian studies."--Journal of Religion & Culture

"[F]ull of weighty information about Buddhist attitudes to violence, warfare, and the dharma."--Practical Matters Journal

"By taking the initiative to publish this collection of essays, Jerryson and Juergensmeyer have stimulated important dimensions of a discussion that is sure to garner much more attention from scholars of a variety of disciplinary perspectives in the future, as well as from thoughtful adherents of the Budddha's dharma. It is a welcomed and timely addition."--Southeast Asian Studies

About the Author

Michael Jerryson is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Youngstown State University.

Mark Juergensmeyer is Professor of Sociology and Global Studies, and Director of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Wouldn't surprise me if the photo was completely staged.
Richard Harrold
All in all though, I did not enjoy this book and it took me a lot longer to read than I hoped because I just could not get into it.
Nate DeMontigny
That is, there's not much of a case to be made of Buddhism as a system of thought or practice causing or promoting violence.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Daiho VINE VOICE on March 16, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is self-evident that homo sapiens are violent. Some homo sapiens are Buddhist. So what other point might there be to an inquiry of Buddhism and violence except to ask, Does Buddhism promote violence?

_Buddhist Warfare_ features eight American and two European Buddhist scholars describing incidents of violence by Buddhist monastics, ranging from 17th century Tibet to 21st century Sri Lanka. The claim repeated in the essays, in the introduction, the conclusion, and in the book's marketing is that Buddhism has an undeserved reputation for pacifism. Not one of the academics represented here addresses the cause of our apparent misunderstanding. Perhaps we have reason to believe.

Westerners as a whole, it will be admitted, are largely ignorant of the history of countries where Buddhism is a majority religion. If they knew something about Asian history they would know there is no end to the list of wars and atrocities committed by people claiming to be Buddhists. Several examples are provided in this volume, including the amusing story of the Chinese Buddhist Airplane. But one need not read history to make such a discovery, only the news from southeast Asia.

It is also true that Buddhism is different from the Abrahamic monotheisms, whose primary teachings are replete with acts of war, genocide, and torture, committed either by God's followers with God's permission or encouragement or done even by God himself. To Westerners raised on such stories violence might seem to be a natural if not necessary component of religion, but there is no such equivalent in Buddhism. The Buddha doesn't wipe out Jains or Hindus with floods or other natural disasters, nor send against them armies of soldiers, pests, or disease. He does not command, but teaches.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By josey on October 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
Buddha stated:

"All men tremble at punishment, all men fear death; remembering that thou are like unto them, do not strike or slay.
All men tremble at punishment, all men love life: remembering that thou are like unto them, do not strike or slay." -The Dhammapada

"When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, his mind is already seized, debased, & misdirected by the thought: 'May these beings be struck down or slaughtered or annihilated or destroyed. May they not exist.' If others then strike him down & slay while he is thus striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the hell called the realm of those slain in battle. But if he holds such a view as this: 'When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle,' that is his wrong view. Now, there are two destinations for a person with wrong view, I tell you: either hell or the animal womb."- Buddha (Samyutta Nikiya XL11 Pali Canon)

And then the Dalai Lama:

"Forgiveness doesn't mean forget what happened. ... If something is serious and it is necessary to take counter-measures, you have to take counter-measures." -Dalai Lama

"It is difficult to deal with terrorism through non-violence." -Dalai Lama

"Theoretically speaking, in order to achieve great benefit for a greater number of people, you can use a violent method. This is true in Vajrayana and Mahayana Buddhism and is one of the things that separate these schools from Theravada Buddhism.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ashtar Command on March 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
"Buddhist Warfare" is not a scandal-mongering gutter press publication. It's an incredibly serious and frankly boring scholarly tome. I stopped reading it after a while, and only skimmed the remaining articles (most of them). I suppose I was somewhat disappointed. But sure, if you think Buddhism is a strictly peaceful religion - a common misconception - you might be surprised by the contents of this work.

Since most states wage war, all state religions can and will be used to justify war, including wars of conquest. In the same way, state religions will be used to bolster the authority of elite groups in society and their often oppressive and exploitative practices. Since Buddhism has often been a state religion, it would be strange if it had been exempt from these practices. The converse is also true: armed uprisings against vested elites have sometimes been religiously justified in Buddhist terms, presumably because most of the participants regarded themselves as Buddhist.

"Buddhist Warfare" contains eight articles about Buddhist violence in various Asiatic nations, from ancient Tibet and India to modern Japan, Thailand and Sri Lanka. The article on Tibet may shock admirers of the Dalai Lama, since it explains how the Fifth Dalai Lama and the Geluk sect took power in Tibet with the aid of a Mongolian army headed by Gushri Khan. Apparently, the khan routed the Buddhist and non-Buddhist competitors of the Geluk-pas, thereby making the Dalai Lama the effective ruler of Tibet. This was during the 17th century. (Tibetan Buddhism is split in a number of groups, called "sects" by scholars. Geluk or Geluk-pa is the sect headed by the Dalai Lama. To confuse matters further, the Geluk-pas also exist in Mongolia and Kalmykia, far outside Tibet.
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