New media technology changes culture. And when it comes to religion, new technology changes the way people think and practice their traditions. And while we usually think of technology as some new gadget or machine, there was a time when the written word itself was a new technology, and this had a profound impact how Buddhism was practiced in South and South East Asia. This is the subject of Daniel Veidlinger
's new book, Spreading the Dhamma: Writing, Orality, and Textual Transmission in Buddhist Northern Thailand
(University of Hawaii Press, 2006). In today's interview, the inaugural show for the New Books in Buddhist Studies channel of the New Books Network, we talk with Prof. Veidlinger about his book and the way some other books changed Buddhism in Thailand. The "other books" we'll be talking about, of course, are the books of the Buddhist canon, a collection of texts that when printed today runs some 15,000 pages. A millennia ago, however, these texts were carved into palm leaves and just as likely to be memorized as read or studied.
Daniel Veidlinger is an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies at California State University, Chico. You can learn more about his work in this podcast
from the Institute of Buddhist Studies.