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A dictionary of Buddhism
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 2003.
Physical Description:
357 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
"With over 2,000 entries, this illustrated dictionary is the most up-to-date and comprehensive of its kind. It features broad-ranging entries on the history and doctrines of the major Buddhist schools, information on the spread of Buddhism in Asia and the West, and coverage of issues of contemporary concern such as human rights, abortion, euthanasia, 'engaged Buddhism', and the role of women in Buddhist teachings."--Jacket.


Call Number
294.303 Keown 2003

On Order



This new dictionary, written by Dr Damien Keown, covers both historical and contemporary issues in Buddhism, and includes all Buddhist schools and cultures. Over 2,000 broad-ranging entries cover beliefs, doctrines, major teachers and scholars, place names, and artefacts, in a clear andconcise style. The text is illustrated with line drawings of religious structures, iconographic forms and gestures, and ritual objects. Appendices include a chronology and a guide to canonical scriptures as well as a pronunciation guide for difficult names and terms.This dictionary should prove invaluable to anyone seeking information on Buddhism, from students of Theology and Social Sciences, to practising Buddhists.

Author Notes

Damien Keown is Reader in Buddhism, Department of Historical and Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College, University of London. He is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and the author of several books on Buddhism

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Although Keown regretfully concedes that the vast subject of Buddhism cannot be "compressed into the pages of a volume such as this," and that his illustrated dictionary is "far from exhaustive," it may well be the most judicious encyclopedia of Buddhism ever to be crammed into a single volume. The entries cover Buddhist terms (20% of the text), biography (18%), scriptures (12%), important places (8%) and schools (7%), with the remaining portions given to brief discussions of ethical issues and other matters. The entries are short--"dharma," for example, merits only a single paragraph, and "Mahayana" gets just two--but such accessibility is the very reason why this should be on the bookshelf of every student of Buddhism. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

The Buddhist tradition is a venerable one, widely practiced and studied. Yet, until recently, substantial reference works have lagged behind the interest in the subject. Most available in English are single-volume works that address terms, concepts, or deities. Oxford's new dictionary, although also a single volume, treats doctrines, practices, biography, scriptures, schools and sects, art, architecture, and more. More than 2,000 entries are alphabetically arranged from abhabba-tthana, the five things of which an arhat, or enlightened one, is said to be incapable, to Zimme Pannasa, the Burmese term for a collection of birth stories of the Buddha. Most entries are transliterations from Sanskrit, Chinese,apanese, Pali, and so on, giving the work a very academic flavor and seeming to require some prior knowledge of the subject. In fairness, the author does state in his preface that this work is more of a companion to the growing literature on Buddhism rather than an introduction to it. The treatment of particular countries (e.g., China, India) as well as those for collections of sacred texts can serve as introductory essays of a sort. There are entries for terms in English (e.g., Diet, Reincarnation), including some on contemporary issues, such as Cloning and Stem cell research. Despite the work's academic bent, entries provide no supplemental bibliographies. This is an especially disappointing omission in the appendix, which outlines the divisions of the three main collections of canonical scriptures (i.e., Pali Canon, Chinese Canon, and Tibetan Canon), as finding translations of particular sacred texts can be difficult. The Concise Encyclopedia of Buddhism (Oneworld, 2000) also lacks a true index and supplemental bibliographies for entries but has some features the Oxford title doesn't, namely, a nice introductory essay on Buddhist history, doctrines, and literature as well as a thematic bibliography. Its coverage, however, is not as comprehensive, with just over 900 entries. Although Oxford's Dictionary of Buddhism may not be all it could be, it does provide authoritative and convenient treatment of a wide range of subjects. Academic and public libraries would do well to acquire it. -- RBB Copyright 2004 Booklist

Choice Review

Oxford's dictionary becomes the new standard for dictionaries devoted to Buddhism. Keown (Univ. of London) is author of several books on Buddhism, including Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (1996). His new dictionary compares favorably with two other dictionaries of Buddhism published in the last decade: Charles Prebish's The Historical Dictionary of Buddhism (CH, Dec'93), to which Keown acknowledges some debt in his preface, is less thorough and lacks the depth and scope of Keown's dictionary; and Christian Humphreys's A Popular Dictionary of Buddhism (1997) is really aimed at general readers and would not be the first choice for upper-level students and scholars. Keown's dictionary supplies the need for a more comprehensive source in the study of Buddhism. Its additional features include a pronunciation guide, a guide to Buddhist scriptures, and a chronology of the religion. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All academic libraries and larger public libraries with substantial collections in religion. R. L. Abbott University of Evansville

Library Journal Review

In a useful new reference that will be welcomed by students of Buddhism and general readers alike, Keown (Buddhism, Univ. of London; Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction) addresses all the main traditions of Buddhism with the goal of "recogniz[ing] the relative importance of each rather than allowing any one cultural region to predominate." The alphabetical format presents more than 2000 concise, interesting, and unusually readable entries explaining concepts, texts, terms, doctrines, practices, history, names (deceased scholars as well as classical masters and mythical characters), and Buddhist art and architecture. Embedded in the listings, brief essays cover the major schools (e.g., Hinayana, Mahayana, Zen) and geographic regions (e.g., China, Europe). Reflecting his scholarly interest, Keown (also the author of Contemporary Buddhist Ethics) has included overviews of Buddhist perspectives on contemporary ethical issues ranging from abortion and cloning to stem cell research and suicide. Maps, a pronunciation guide, a guide to Buddhist scriptures, a chronology, and copious cross references are also included. Highly recommended as the best choice for a one-volume dictionary of Buddhism.-James R. Kuhlman, Univ. of North Carolina Lib., Asheville (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

The Dictionaryp. 1
Appendix I Map of India and the region where the Buddha taught and livedp. 347
Appendix II Map showing Theravada Buddhism in Asiap. 348
Appendix III Map showing Mahayana Buddhism in Asiap. 349
Appendix IV Pronunciation Guidep. 350
Appendix V Guide to Buddhist Scripturesp. 352
Appendix VI Chronologyp. 355