Bibliography of Buddhism in Singapore
I welcome suggestions for additional items to be included. Please email me at mc2286 @ cornell.edu. I would like to thank the following individuals who have helped improve this bibliography: Anne Blackburn, Hsu Yu-Yin 徐郁縈, Hue Guan Thye 許源泰, Cheryl Tan, and Zhang Wenxue 張文學.
Blackburn, Anne. 2012. Ceylonese Buddhism in Colonial Singapore: New Ritual Spaces & Specialists, 1895-1935. Asia Research Institute Working Paper Series 184.
This paper provides the first detailed account of the development of Ceylonese Buddhism in colonial-period Singapore. It tracks the development of Buddhist spaces in Singapore oriented towards Pali-language authoritative texts and liturgy, focusing on Ceylonese Buddhism but alert also to the activities of Thai, Burmese, and Chinese Buddhists. In contrast to Burma and Ceylon, British colonies in which Pali-oriented Buddhists were the religious and cultural majority, Sinhalese, Thai, and Burmese Buddhists in Singapore lived as religious minorities vis-à-vis forms of Chinese Buddhism and other Chinese traditions, as well as Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. For Ceylon’s Buddhists, hampered by small numbers and limited capital, establishing stable Buddhist ritual space and obtaining steady access to ritual specialists was a substantial challenge. This challenge could only be met — and met precariously — by shifting alliances and collaborations with other Buddhists in Singapore and wider Malaya oriented toward Pali-language texts and ritual, as well as with Chinese Buddhists whose Buddhist heritage owed more to Mahayana Buddhist traditions and Chinese-language Buddhist texts. This paper explores the emergence of crisper sub-regional and ethnic affiliations among Singapore’s Buddhists, as well as ways in which the 1920s trend towards monasticization linked Pali-language and Chinese-language Buddhists in Singapore.
Chan, Chow Wah. 2007. Storm in Shuang Lin. Biblioasia 3, 1 (April): 4-9.
Chan, Chow Wah. 2009. Light on the Lotus Hill : Shuang Lin Monastery and the Burma Road. Singapore: Khoon Chee Vihara.
Charney, Michael W. 2000. Transnationalism and the Burmese Buddhist Temples of Singapore and Penang. Unpublished manuscript.
The phenomenon of “ethnically defined parallel congregations” in immigrant Buddhist temples has been examined in the North American context (Numrich 1996), but not in ethnic Buddhist temples in Asian immigrant societies. The paradigm of ethnically defined parallel congregations, or ethnically bifurcated congregations, offers a useful way to under the existence of the ethnic bifurcation in the Singapore BBT and (in the past) in the Penang BBT, and perhaps other Asian immigrant societies.
Chen, Guan Liang Gabriel. 2007. Propagating the Bodhi Tree: Tibetan Buddhism in Singapore. Academic exercise, National University of Singapore.
Chia, Jack Meng Tat and Robin Ming Feng Chee. 2008. Rebranding the Buddhist Faith: Reformist Buddhism and Piety in Contemporary Singapore. Explorations: A Graduate Student Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 8 (Spring): 1-9.
This paper examines the rise of Reformist Buddhism in Singapore and its quest to rebrand the faith in the island-state through the advocation of “Buddhist ideology” as the key emphasis by its practitioners. It argues that instead of “habitually” enacting religious rituals, Reformist Buddhists are concerned with the active reflexive engagement of how the hitherto established dramatization of piety and acquiescence to the elemental tenets of the religion is institutionalized. Drawing on the data from semi-structured interviews conducted with lay Buddhists in Singapore, this study seeks to uncover the principles and practices of Reformist Buddhism and the general opinions on these believers in contemporary Singapore.
Chia, Jack Meng Tat. 2008. Buddhism in Singapore-China Relations: Venerable Hong Choon and his Visits, 1982-1990. The China Quarterly 196 (December): 864-883.
Venerable Hong Choon (1907–90) made eight visits to China between 1982 and 1990. During these visits, the Venerable met national and religious leaders, made pilgrimages to sacred Buddhist sites, helped to restore the monasteries associated with his master Venerable Hui Quan, and officiated at religious ceremonies. This study aims to examine the diplomatic significance of Venerable Hong Choon’s visits to China. It positions these religious exchanges within the broader context of Singapore–China relations since the reopening of China in the late 1970s, and argues that Buddhism played a role in fostering international relations between the two countries in the period prior to the official establishment of diplomatic ties. In the absence of formal diplomatic channels between Singapore and China, Venerable Hong Choon’s religious visits could thus be seen as a form of informal diplomacy with the aim of confidence building.
Chia, Jack Meng Tat. 2009. Teaching Dharma, Grooming Sangha: The Buddhist College of Singapore. SOJOURN: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia24, 1 (April): 122-138.
This article is a preliminary observation of the recently established Buddhist College of Singapore (BCS). It seeks to propose, building on Kuah Khun Eng’s notion of “Reformist Buddhism”, that the college can be seen as a product of the Reformist Buddhist movement in Singapore. By positioning the BCS within this larger context of Reformist Buddhist movement, this article argues that Reformist Buddhism has legitimized the process of rationalization and bureaucratization of the Buddhist institutions in the country. This has, to a large extent, contributed to the organizational and educational structure of the BCS.
Chia, Jack Meng Tat. 2009. Buddhism in Singapore: A State of the Field Review. Asian Culture 33 (June): 81-93.
Chia, Jack Meng Tat. 2010. “An Insider’s Research into Buddhist History.” In The Makers and Keepers of Singapore History, edited by Loh Kah Seng and Liew Kai Khiun, 103-111. Singapore: Ethos Books and Singapore Heritage Society.
Ching, Qing Ting. 2012. Xinjiapo fojiao yu daojiao hunza xianxiang yanjiu—yi jitong de jiangshen yishi wei tianye ge’an 新加坡佛教与道教混杂现象研究—以乩童的降神仪式作为田野个案 [A study of buddhism and taoism mixed phenomenon in Singapore : observation from Séances]. Final Year Project, Nanyang Technological University.
Hsu Yu-Yin 徐郁縈. 2013. Ershi shiji kuaguo hongfa yu wenhua jiaoliu: Guangqia fashi (1901-1994) zhi yanjiu 二十世紀跨國弘法與文化交流： 廣洽法師(1901-1994)之研究 [A study of Master Guangqia (1901-1994): Transnational teaching of the dharma and cultural exchanges in the 20th century]. M.A. thesis, National University of Singapore.
Hue, Guan Thye 许原泰. 2005. Xinjiapo Fojiao: Chuanbo yan’ge yu moshi 新加坡佛教：传播沿革与模式 [Buddhism in Singapore: Propagation, Evolution, and Practice]. M.A. thesis, Nanyang Technology University.
This thesis consists of 3 parts. In sum, this thesis highlights the pattern of Buddhist propagation in Singapore (before and after independence) and analyses the Buddhist culture and belief structure in Singapore. As such a detailed study has not been done before, this study strives to fill this gap and make a valuable contribution to society towards a better understanding of Singapore’s Buddhist culture and practices.
Hue, Guan Thye 许原泰. 2009. Zhongguo nüxing yimin yi Xinjiapo Fojiao fazhan—Yi 20 shiji zhongye de 3 wei nüxing Fojiaotu weili 中国女性移民与新加坡佛教发展—以 20 世纪中叶的 3 位在家 女性佛教徒为例 [Chinese female migrants and the development of Buddhism in Singapore—A case study of three female lay Buddhists in the mid-twentieth century]. In Kualingyu duihua yu pengzhuang: Xinjiapo Guoda Nanda Zhongwenxi yanjiusheng lunwenji 跨领域对话与碰撞: 新加坡国大南大中文系研究生论文集[Cross-disciplinary Dialogue and Collision: Collected Essays of Chinese Studies Graduate Students of NUS and NTU], edited by Huang Xianqiang and Ke Siren, 35-54. Xinjiapo: Xinjiapo qingnian chubanshe.
Hue, Guan Thye 许原泰. 2011. Zhonghua chuantong zongjiao xinyang zai Dongnanya de tuibian: Xinjiapo de Daojiao he Fojiao yanjiu 中华传统宗教信仰在东南亚的蜕变: 新加坡的道教和佛教研究 [The Transformation of Traditional Chinese Religious Beliefs in South East Asian Society: A Case Study of Taoism and Buddhism in Singapore]. PhD diss., Nanyang Technology University.
This thesis details the development of traditional Chinese religious beliefs in Singapore by tracing their early growth on the banks of the Singapore River to their present structure. It focuses on the propagation and evolution patterns of the Singapore Taoism and Buddhism, whose metamorphosis is a microcosm of the overall transformation of the Singapore Chinese community. Through a historical and sociological descriptive analysis of change in both religious social activities, as well as the resulting spatial aspects and the influence of the state land policy, it also evaluates the forces that have shaped traditional Chinese religious beliefs in this modern city-state. This thesis consists of nine chapters. The first chapter outlines the direction of the whole thesis; it highlights the motivation, introduces the general background, lays out the framework, and raises some perceptive questions. The second chapter is devoted to the general religious background of the region and the history of the three mainstream Chinese religions; it provides a fertile ground for the following chapters. Chapter three to six are the central chapters of the thesis. The third and fourth chapters compare the differing impacts of Fork Religious Beliefs and Traditional Taoist Beliefs on the historical development and patterns of propagation of Taoism. Chapter five and chapter six discuss the possibility of Singapore being an ancient Buddhist country prior to the 15th century, as well as the different propagation stages of Mahayana Buddhism in Singapore. Chapter seven highlights the predicament facing the propagation of the traditional Chinese Temple in Singapore and analyses how these Temples have accommodated to the utilization of space demands arising from the Urban Redevelop Programme and they have been transformed in their quest for survival in this city. Chapter eight links the previous chapters and dwells on the structure and development of both Singapore Taoism and Buddhism; it objectively presents the advantages and challenges faced by both religions and poses valuable question to be pondered. The final chapter provides a succinct sum-up of the whole thesis, demonstrating that this field work has brought the study of the Chinese religions of Singapore to a higher level. In sum, this thesis highlights the pattern of Taoist and Buddhist propagation in Singapore (before and after independence) and analyses their culture and belief structure in Singapore. As such a detailed study has not been done before, this study strives to fill this gap and make a valuable contribution to society towards a better understanding of Singapore’s Traditional Chinese religious culture and practices.
Hue, Guan Thye 许原泰. 2013. Yan’ge yu moshi: Xinjiapo daojiao he fojiao de chuanbo yanjiu 沿革与模式: 新加坡道教和佛教传播研究. Monograph Series on Southeast Asian Chinese, volume 12. Singapore: National University of Singapore Department of Chinese Studies and Global Publishing.
Johnson, Andrew Alan. 2016. Dreaming about the Neighbours: Magic, Orientalism, and Entrepreneurship in the Consumption of Thai Religious Goods in Singapore. South East Asia Research
For Marcel Mauss (2001 ), magic involves border-crossing, with powers founded upon the potentiality presented by the exotic and the unknown. In a similar vein, Webb Keane (2003) points to the movement of religious objects that, via their very materiality, acquire new meanings as they move between one “representational economy” and another. Here, I look at the consumption of Thai necromantic objects by Chinese Singaporean Buddhists. These are, in some cases, Thai body parts, ritually processed and sold via the international marketplace via Chinese Singaporean entrepreneurs and used for local business competition. I argue that, through this process, these objects become fused with Chinese religious notions of potency, Orientalist exoticization, and a fetishization of the entrepreneur. In doing so, these dreams about the neighbours complicate our understandings of cosmopolitanism, masculinity, and the vicissitudes of capitalism.
Kitiarsa, Pattana. 2010. Buddha-izing a Global City-State: Transnational Religious Mobilities, Spiritual Marketplace, and Thai Migrant Monks in Singapore. Mobilities 5, 2 (May): 257-275.
This article proposes an argument that transnational mobilities are culturally and religiously rooted. Religion and human mobility have been inseparable for centuries. It either encourages border‐crossing movements of clergies and laypersons away from home, or channels human interaction as well as tension across the lines of ethnocultural and national differences. This article uses the case study of migrant Buddhist monks from Thailand, their cross‐border religious mission, and complicating aspects of their religious practices in Singapore to illustrate some subtle roles of religion in the broader context of transnational mobility and settlement in a multiracial and multicultural city‐state. Under Singapore’s racial and religious harmony policy, Thai monks have become mobile agents to spread the Dharma and to serve the Buddhist population under some regulating structure and scrutiny in Singapore.
Kuah, Khun Eng. 1988. Protestant Buddhism in Singapore: Religious Modernization from a Longer Perspective. Ph.D. diss., Monash University.
Kuah, Khun Eng. 2003. State, Society and Religious Engineering: Towards a Reformist Buddhism in Singapore. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press. (Second edition, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2009)
Kuah, Khun Eng. 2004. Towards Religious Modernity: The Emergence of Engaged Reformist Buddhism in Singapore. In Chuantong yu xiandaihua: Hanchuan fojiao xiandai quanshi 传统与现代化：汉传佛教现代诠释 [Tradition and Modernity: A contemporary interpretation of Chinese Buddhism], 175-209. Singapore: Xinjiapo Fojiao Zonghui.
Ling, Trevor. 1987. Buddhism, Confucianism and the SecularState in Singapore. Singapore: Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore Working Paper No. 79.
Ling, Trevor. 1993. Singapore: Buddhist Development in a Secular State. In Buddhist Trends in Southeast Asia, ed. Trevor Ling, 154-183. Singapore: Social Issues in Southeast Asia, Institute ofSoutheast Asian Studies.
Liu Xianjue 刘先觉 and Lee Coo 李谷. 2007. Xinjiapo Fojiao jianzhu yishu 新加坡佛教建筑艺术 [Buddhist Architecture in Singapore]. Singapore: Kepmedia International Pte Ltd.
Lo, Yuet Keung. 2006. Buddhism. In Singapore: The Encyclopedia, 74-75. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet.
McDougall, Colin. 1956. Buddhism in Malaya. Singapore: Donald Moore.
Nguyen, Thi Gia Hoang. 2011. The Pursuit of Enlightenment and the Singaporean Buddhist Monastics. Final Year Project, Nanyang Technological University.
The primary goal of this paper is to understand why some Singaporeans decide to follow the Buddhist monastic way of life. Situating the research in the context of the modern, capitalist, multicultural Singapore society, I have used Berger and Luckmann’s (1966) sociology of knowledge to explore and explain the process of becoming Buddhist monastics of some Singaporeans. Through field work at various Buddhist sites in Singapore and in-depth interviews with Singaporean Buddhist monastics who are residing locally and overseas, the findings reveal that the process of becoming a Buddhist monastic involves the socialization of individuals into the Buddhist reality, the de-reification of other realities, and lastly, the re-socialization into the Buddhist monastic reality. These findings are later linked to broader changes and persistence in Buddhism in Singapore, which have been characterized by some authors as a trend towards Reformist Buddhism.
Ong, Y.D. 2005. Buddhism in Singapore: A Short Narrative History. Singapore: Skylark Publications.
Piyasilo. 1988. Buddhist Culture: An Observation of the Buddhist Situation in Malaysia and Singapore and a Suggestion. Petaling Jaya, Selangor: Friends of Buddhism Malaysia.
Quek, Ri An. 2011. Understanding Buddhist environmentalism in Singapore : explaining how religious ideas motivate environmental action. Final Year Project, Nanyang Technological University.
Rice, Monte. Emergence of Buddhist Revivalism as the Primary Challenge to Church Growth in Singapore. Church and Society in Asia Today 6, 1 (2003): 12-39.
Seah, Yueh Chinn Jacinta. 2010. Performativity, Embodied Practices and Religious Affects: Spaces of Thai Buddhism in Singapore. Academic exercise, National University of Singapore.
Seck, Kwang Phing 释广品. 2004. Hanchuan Fojiao zai Xinjiapo chuanyang de yanhua ji fazhan 汉传佛教在新加坡传扬的演化暨发展 [The transformation and development of the propagation of Chinese Buddhism in Singapore]. In Chuantong yu xiandaihua: Hanchuan fojiao xiandai quanshi 传统与现代化：汉传佛教现代诠释 [Tradition and Modernity: A contemporary interpretation of Chinese Buddhism], 41-55. Singapore: Xinjiapo Fojiao Zonghui.
Shi, Chuanfa 释传发. 1997. Xinjiapo Fojiao fazhan shi 新加坡佛教发展史 [A history of the development of Buddhism in Singapore]. Singapore: Xinjiapo Fojiao Jushilin.
Shi, Nengdu 释能度，Shi Xiantong 释贤通, He Xiujuan 何秀娟, and Xu Yuantai 许原泰 eds. Xinjiapo Hanchuan Fojiao Fazhan Gaishu 新加坡汉传佛教发展概述 [An overview of the development of Chinese Buddhism in Singapore]. Singapore: Buddha of Medicine Welfare Society, 2010.
Tan, Shiling Cheryl. 2008. Religious Alternation, Spiritual Humanism: Tzu Chi Foundation in Singapore. M.Soc.Sci. thesis, National University of Singapore.
This study examines the religious and spiritual experiences of Tzu Chi members to understand religious alternation and popularity of Tzu Chi Singapore. In a multi-religious and multi-ethnic organization, Tzu Chi has a dual-sphere framework (social-humanistic and religious domains) which allows for religious customization. The efficient organizational structure and successful outreach programme creates a social cocoon to encapsulate members. The relationship between religion and the State, religious competition, the popularity of Buddhism and growth of new religions must be examined to situate Tzu Chi’s growth within Singapore’s religious marketplace. Based on primary fieldwork in Singapore, the study will compare three religious movements and show the shifting focus away from religiosity to spirituality and self actualization replacing ritualistic formalism. New religious movements share commonality in terms of universal humanism, an emphasis on social, charity and community work. It offers a refreshing perspective on conversion, religiosity, religious affiliations and new religions in Singapore.
Wee, Vivienne.  1997. Buddhism in Singapore. In Understanding Singapore Society, ed. Ong Jin Hui, Tong Chee Kiong and Tan Ern Ser, 130-162. Singapore: Times Academic Press.
Wong, Yuen Lee. 1986. Thai Buddhism in Singapore. Academic exercise, National University of Singapore.
Yang, Shuya 杨淑雅. 2000. Yan Pei Fashi de hongfa shiji 演培法师的弘法事迹 [The Missionary Activities of Venerable Yan Pei]. M.A. thesis, National University of Singapore.
Yee, Shirley Meng Sam. 1994. Thai Buddhist Cosmology and its Influence in Singapore. M.Soc.Sci. thesis, National University of Singapore.
Ye, Zhongling 叶钟铃. 1997. Liu Jinbang chuangjian Shuanglin Chansi shimo 刘金榜创建双林禅寺始末 [Liu Jinbang and the establishment of the Shuanglin Monastery]. Asian Culture 21 (June): 102-109.
Zeng, Ruluan 曾汝銮. 2004. Hanchuan Fojiao zai Xinjiapo suo miandui de tiaozhan: yi “Lianshan Shuanglin Si” wei gean 汉传佛教在新加坡所面对的挑战：以“莲山双林寺”为个案 [The challenges faced by Chinese Buddhism in Singapore: A case study of “Lianshan Shuanglin Monastery]. In Chuantong yu xiandaihua: Hanchuan fojiao xiandai quanshi 传统与现代化：汉传佛教现代诠释 [Tradition and Modernity: A contemporary interpretation of Chinese Buddhism], 210-219. Singapore: Xinjiapo Fojiao Zonghui.
Zhang, Wenxue 张文学. 2011. Kuayue Zhong, Xin de Fojiao dashi: Zhuandao fashi yanjiu 跨越中、新的佛教大师—转道法师研究 [A Master across China and Singapore: Research on Venerable Zhuandao]. Ph.D diss., Xiamen University.
本文综合运用中国与新加坡两地大量的田野调查资料与相关文献资料，在 19 世纪末以来中国和新加坡的社会发展脉络，及中国、新加坡、东南亚乃至世 界变迁的场景中，以多元的视野具体地考察一个被后人遗忘的华侨僧人—转道法师的生命史。以他对中国与新加坡两地佛教的贡献切入，通过对许多鲜为人知 的历史细节进行分析，全面、深入地研究了20 世纪上半叶汉传佛教由中国传入新加坡，并在新加坡扎根形成体系的发展过程。 基于以上的研究思路，本文分为八个部分，主要遵循以下几个内容层次逐步展开：第一章绪论，该部分阐明本文的问题意识及研究意义，对新加坡汉传佛教研 究领域的相关课题的学术史进行了回顾，对研究现状进行了分析，并对本文的研 究方法、材料来源做了说明。第二章主要对二十世纪上半叶的中、新社会与汉传佛教的发展情况做一概述 和分析，为所研究的人物——转道法师在新加坡具体的传教活动提供一个宏观的 时空背景。第三章详细叙述转道法师早年事迹，考察人物出生与成长的环境、身世与家族渊源，钩沉他出家修学及师承法脉情况，描绘他早年的云游参学，在中国佛寺中担当重任的经历，并对转道下南洋弘法的初衷进行分析，为本文下章介绍他如何在新加坡开创事业的论述做了铺设。第四章主要考察了转道法师如何在新加坡一步步建立汉传佛教体系，使自中国而传入的汉传佛教在新加坡扎下根来。主要叙述佛教寺庙之创建、佛教团体之成立、佛教教育之开办、佛教刊物之宣传等方面的具体过程，分析转道在其中发挥的不可替代的作用及重要贡献。第五章记叙转道在新加坡发展佛教事业，并未忘记回馈自己的祖国，该部分重点描述转道如何恢复与重修中国的寺庙，以及如何以各种方式帮助中国国内的僧人，并接引他们来海外弘法，重点在于探讨他对中国佛教的贡献，揭示出人物的民族主义及爱国主义精神。他对中国佛教的贡献，其实为新加坡汉传佛教的发展提供了源头活水，日后从中国来新加坡的一大批法师都曾在国内受到转道的影响或帮助。第六章是在前面几章的基础上，进一步分析人物活动的深层原因。本章主要探讨转道改革佛教的思想，揭示他改革佛教的思想动因，分析他改革佛教的思想内容，并叙述他为此所作出的实践。第七章探讨后转道时代，由于社会的变迁，新加坡汉传佛教出现的一些新情况，例如都市佛教、新佛教或改良主义佛教运动的兴起，以及跨国佛教组织的出现。分析这些佛教新现象出现的背景，以及这种背景与转道法师所建立的宗教体系及传承下来的普世精神之间的内在联系，虽然这种联系很少被人注意到。第八章结论部分，该部分在前文考察内容的基础上，对转道法师被遗忘的原因进行分析，并反思当前学界有关中国佛教史及近代佛教人物研究、海外华人研究领域内的若干问题，及其未来研究取向。