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The Spread of Buddhisms, Part 1
From South Asia to China
Baruch College, The City University of New York
Many Buddhisms and piecemeal transmissions
The economics of Buddhisms State formation and Buddhisms The hopping and circulatory itineraries The Buddhist cosmopolis: multiple centers
c.1500-1000 BCE: Formation of Brahmanism
c.1000-500 BCE: Migration towards Ganges, followed by urbanization around River
Ganges, and the formation of jatis.
c. 400 BCE: Buddha and other critics of Brahmanism
c. 3rd century BCE: Reign of King Ashoka and the spread of Buddhism in southern Asia
1st century BCE-1st century CE: spread of Buddhism to Han China
c. 1st-3rd centuries CE: Kushans and the creation of Buddhist networks; spread to Burma
c.280-550: The Gupta Empire, deurbanization, revival of Brahmanism; spread to Korea
5th century: The establishment of the Nalanda University
c. 7th century: The emergence of vajrayana (esoteric Buddhism); spread to Japan and Tibet
12th century: Destruction of Buddhist institutions in parts of India
13th century: Localization in all part of Buddhist world; spread to Iran
The Early Spread of Buddhisms
Links to merchant communities
The urban-monastic connections: A Parasitic relationship?
Caratha bhikkhave carikam bahujanahitaya bahujanasukhaya lokanukampaya ... Ma ekena dve agamittha. Desetha bhikkhave dhammam ... Aham pi bhikkhave yena Uruvela yena Sananigamo
Go ye now, O Bhikkhus, and wander, for the gain of the many, for the welfare of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, for the gain, and for the welfare of gods and men, Let not two of you go the same way, Preach, O Bhikkhus, the doctrine which is glorious in the beginning, glorious in the middle, glorious at the end, in the spirit and in the letter; proclaim a consummate, perfect, and pure life of holiness. There are beings whose mental eyes are covered by scarcely any dust, but if the doctrine is not preached to them, they cannot attain salvation. They will understand the doctrine. And I will go also, O Bhikkhus, to Uruvel, to Senninigama, in order to preach the doctrine.
A hundred years after my nirvana, there will be a king by the name of Aoka in the city of Paaliputra. He will be a cakravartin king and rule over one of the four continents, and he will construct eighty-four thousand stupas for the enshrinement of my relics.
Ayuwang jing (T. 2043) c. 184BCE/Tr.506-524CE
Buddhisms and Trade Routes
Buddhisms and Trade
Urbanization in the Gangetic region, c. 600 BCE
The Buddhas association with traders and wealthy individuals
Interdepended relationship: donations, spiritual support, transportation, commercial enterprise, trade routes and monastic institutions
The development of Avalokitesvara (later, Guanyin) cult, popular among the merchant communities/travelers
Place of Birth
Place of Enlightenment
Site of First Teaching
Site of Nirvana
Buddhisms in Foreign Lands
Royal/ Official Transmissions to Sri Lanka and China King Devanampiya Tissa in Sri Lanka
Emperor Wu of Han China
The Contribution of Itinerant Traders
The Role of Images and Misperceptions
Missionary and Translation Work
The Children of Ashoka and the Conversion of Tissa (c. 250 BCE)
THE great thera Mahinda, of lofty wisdom, who at that time had been twelve years (a monk), charged by his teacher and by the brotherhood to convert the island of Lak, pondered on the fitting time (for this) and thought: `Old is the king Mutasiva; his son must become king.
The great Indra sought out the excellent thera Mahinda and said to him: `Set forth to
convert Lanka; by the Sam buddha also hast thou been foretold (for this) and we will be those who aid thee there.
So truly as the great Bodhi-tree shall go hence to the isle of Lak, and so truly as I shall stand unalterably firm in the doctrine of the Buddha, shall this fair south branch of the great Bodhi-tree, severed of itself, take its place here in this golden vase.'
Then the great Bodhi-tree severed, of itself, at the place where the line was, floating above the vase filled with fragrant earth. Above the line first (drawn) the ruler of men drew, at (a distance of) three finger-breadths, round about ten (further) pencil-strokes. And ten strong roots springing from the first and ten slender from each of the other (lines) dropped down, forming a net.
Thus with a hundred roots the great Bodhi-tree set itself there in the fragrant earth, converting the people to the faith. Ten cubits long was the stem; five lovely branches (were thereon), each four cubits long and (each) adorned with five fruits, and on these branches were a thousand twigs. Such was the ravishing and auspicious great Bodhi-tree.
Not only Theravadin Sri Lanka
Issue Two: Diffusion or Long-Distance Transmission?
Problems with Contact Expansion
Evidence for Buddhist practices in China predates the evidence from Central Asia
Evidence for Buddhist practices in China predates the evidence from Southeast Asia
Evidence of transmission from China to Central and Southeast Asia
Segmented and/or long-distance (trading, migratory, financial, etc.)
Circulatory, never unidirectional or one-off
Depended on modes of transportation, geographical terrains, navigational knowhow, political patronage, economic feasibility, social or cultural relationship, and other factors
Often overlapping with other networks, connected to feeder and auxiliary routes, local and overseas markets, etc.
Must be seen as having multiple identities, with regard to people involved, commodities traded, and ideas transmitted
Use of existing networks, both segmented and long-distance, by monks
Facilitated the creation of new networks
through pilgrimage, monastic-building, and political/diplomatic activities
Supported networks of learning and
knowledge May not have received universal support from
every network operator
BUDDHISMS IN CHINA
HISTORY OF BUDDHISM IN CHINA: QUESTIONABLE ISSUES
The dream of Emperor Ming of the Han Dynasty, leading to the arrival of the first Indian monks, and the establishment of the first Buddhist monastery in East Asia (the White Horse/Baima Monastery)
The Role of Central Asia as the staging point of Buddhist transmission to China
The use of Daoist terminology in early
The decline of Buddhism in China after 845
Emperor Wudi Worshiping Buddha
White Horse Monastery
EMPEROR MINGS DREAM: A LATER FABRICATION
Linking India and China through Buddhisms
The early connections between urbanization, trade, and
the spread of Buddhisms (artifacts as well as ideas)
Translation, compilation, reinterpretation activities
Pilgrimages and missionary work Networks facilitating long-distance transmission of
Buddhism Creating a Buddhist identity for Asia
Buddhisms in Han China
1st Century BCE?: Transmission of images directly from southern Asia to China (long-distance rather than contact expansion), in disorganized instead of in an organized way, and perhaps before the chaos marking the end of the Eastern Han dynasty in late-2nd-early 3rd century or dissatisfaction with Confucian teachings.
65 CE: Buddhist terms known to the Han court
c. 65 CE: Possible presence of Buddhist monks and laypeople in Pengcheng/Luoyang
Han China (by the third century CE): Early amalgamation of indigenous and Buddhist ideas, especially at the folk level (Mount Kongwang, Han Tombs)
Interior of Cave IX, Ma Hao, Sichuan Province
Seated Buddha in Cave IX, Ma Hao, Sichuan Province. Dated to the late 2nd-first half of 3rd century
Seated Buddha and two attendants, Late Han Tomb at Pengshan, Sichuan Province
Buddhist engravings on Mount Kongwang
Donor figures, Mount Kongwang
The parinirvana of the Buddha,
Early Buddhist Sites in China
The Maritime Buddhist Network: The Land-Sea Connections
Mount Kongwang evidence (2nd-3rd century CE)
Kang Senghui (d. 280), grew up and became a monk in Jiaozhi, and travelled to the court of Sun Quan (222-52). Father a Sogdian seafaring trader who migrated to the Jiaozhi region from India.
Travels of South Asian, including Kashmiri, monks to China (Guangzhou and Nanjing): Jivaka and Kumara in the 3rd century, Buddhajiva, Gunavarman, Gunabhadra and others in the 4th-5th century.
The pilgrimage of Faxian to India in the 5th century (and the role of Southeast Asia in the Buddhist interactions between India and China)
Factors Contributing to the Successful
Spread of Buddhist ideas to China
Misconceived notion of the Buddha and Buddhism
Early amalgamation with folk beliefs and art
Political support by rulers such as Liang Wudi
Flexibility with which Buddhism could be practiced and the doctrines modified
The multiethnic nature of transmission and ama