Buddha in the Crown: Avalokiteśvara in the Buddhist Traditions of Sri Lanka
This book offers a case study in religious and cultural change. Sri Lanka is the home of one of Asia's most pluralistic religious cultures; four major religions - Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity - have found a permanent home within its boundaries. This makes it an ideal laboratory for the study of how religious traditions mix. John Holt here examines the career of a single deity, who began as the Indian Mahayana Buddhist bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, was assimilated to the indigenous Sinhala god Natha, and ultimately became identified with the bodhisattva Maitreya - the next Buddha of the future, expected by virtually all Buddhist traditions of Asia.