This is an epoch-making piece of research which must mark a change in direction and appreciation if it is taken seriously and studied in detail. Dr. Gombrich is concerned with religious change in belief and practice, not only in modern times but over the two and a half millennia during which Buddhism had flourished. He concludes that Sinhalese Buddhism has been remarkably conservative and rejects the assumption that it degenerated from an original high standard, by questioning whether it ever was as pure as a superficial reading of classical texts might suggest... It would be very difficult to provide a combination of scholarship and sympathy such as that which pervades Dr. Gombrich`s book and makes it a landmark in the study of religion.
RICHARD GOMBRICH has been Boden. Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford University and Professorial Fellow of Balliol College. He has been Secretary for Europe of the International Association of Buddhist Studies and is Hon. Secretary and Treasurer of the Pali Text Society. He has published eight books and about fourty articles, mostly on Buddhism.