This major new work explores the British encounter with Buddhism in nineteenth century Sri Lanka, examining the way Buddhism was represented and constructed in the eyes of the British scholars, officials, travellers and religious seekers who first encountered it. Tracing the three main historical phases of the encounter from 1796 to 1900, the book provides a sensitive and nuanced exegesis of the cultural and political influences that shaped the early British understanding of Buddhism and that would condition its subsequent transmission to the West. Expanding our understanding of inter-religious relations between Christians and Buddhists, the book fills a significant gap in the scholarship on Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka by concentrating on missionary writings and presenting a thorough exploration of original materials of several important pioneers in Buddhist studies and mission studies.

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