The Sociology of Early Buddhism

by Greg Bailey, Ian Mabbett

Early Buddhism flourished because it was able to take up the challenge represented by buoyant economic conditions and the need for cultural uniformity in the newly emergent states in north-eastern India from the fifth century BCE onwards. This book begins with the apparent inconsistency of Buddhism, a renunciant movement, surviving within a strong urban environment, and draws out the implications of this. In spite of the Buddhist ascetic imperative, the Buddha and other celebrated monks moved easily through various levels of society and fitted into the urban landscape they inhabited. The Sociology of Early Buddhism tells how and why the early monks were able to exploit the social and political conditions of mid-first millennium north-eastern India in such a way as to ensure the growth of Buddhism into a major world religion. Its readership lies both within Buddhist studies and more widely among historians, sociologists and anthropologists of religion.

  • Cambridge University Press; November 2003
  • ISBN: 9780511056635
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF format
  • Title: The Sociology of Early Buddhism
  • Author: Greg Bailey; Ian Mabbett
  • Imprint: Cambridge University Press

In The Press

'It is a scholarly and objective study, despite the fact that it tends to underrate other opinions.' Expository Times