One Hundred Thousand Moons: An Advanced Political History of Tibet by Tsepon Wangchuk Deden Shakabpa and Derek F. Maher (Brill's Tibetan Studies Library: Brill Academic Publishers) DRAWING ON A VAST ARRAY OF HISTORICAL AND biographical sources, this volume elaborates Tibetan political history, arguing that Tibet has long been an independent nation, and that the 195o incursion by the Chinese was an invasion of a sovereign country. The author situates Tibet's relations with a series of Chinese, Manchurian, and Mongolian empires in terms of the preceptor-patron relationship, an essentially religious connection in which Tibetan religious figures offered spiritual instruction to the contemporaneous emperor or other militarily powerful figure in exchange for protection and religious patronage. Simultaneously, this volume serves as an introduction to many aspects of Tibetan culture, society, and especially religion. The book includes a compendium of biographies of the most significant figures in Tibet's past. More
The Spread of Buddhism edited by Ann Heirman, Stephan Peter Bumbacher (Handbook of Oriental Studies/Handbuch Der Orientalistik: Brill) In no region of the world Buddhism can be seen as a unified doctrinal system. It rather consists of a multitude of different ideas, practices and behaviours. Geographical, social, political, economic, philosophical, religious, and also linguistic factors all played their role in its development and spread, but this role was different from region to region. Based on up-to-date research, this book aims at unraveling the complex factors that shaped the presence of particular forms of Buddhism in the regions to the north and the east of India. The result is a fascinating view on the mechanisms that allowed or hampered the presence of (certain aspects of) Buddhism in regions such as Central Asia, China, Tibet, Mongolia, or Korea.
The aim of the present work is to examine the spread of Buddhism in order to gain a deeper understanding of the way in which Buddhism found its way into countries and regions different from its area of origin. Before we invite the kind reader to follow us on our journey, however, we first of all have to ask: What is Buddhism? An immediate answer offers itself: Buddhism is an abstraction, as is any religion. Why? No single religion represents a coherent and definite system of concepts and notions, for several reasons. First of all, religions evolve and develop. The transcendent Buddha of the later Mahayana was significantly different from Gotama Siddhattha of the early Hinayana as preserved in the Pali canon. Just as the Jesus of the early wandering charismatic preachers of the first decades after his execution was different to the Jesus discussed at the council of Nicea in the early fourth century. Second, no single member of a religion can be aware of all possible interpretations. This holds true for the specialists like priests, monks, or university professors as well as, and even more so, for the lay believers. What the ordinary Chinese of, say, the Chang'an area of the late second century AD could know about Buddhism—based on the few texts that were translated by then into Chinese—differed substantially from what an elite monk at the Tang court would have known thanks to the comprehensive libraries available to him. Furthermore, lay believers may have had a different understanding of the various elements of their religion than the religious specialists as their view may still be informed by the earlier "folk-religious" tradition of their primary socialisation. We are, therefore, well advised to consider Buddhism in particular and religions in general as complexes consisting of a more or less "essential core" of concepts shared by most adherents (although they may understand them differently!) and layers of "secondary shells" of individually formed notions which may differ considerably from one believer to the next.
We may then ask: after various Buddhist traditions had left their areas of origin and spread into new territories, how did they enter these new environments? Did they adapt themselves or were they adapted? Which difficulties did they encounter? Was the spread a single event or did it consist of several waves? The period to be examined in each region under discussion is primarily the period from the first appearance of Buddhism until the time when it disappeared, or, instead, when it had acquired a solid basis. As we did not want to produce a work in several volumes we had to limit ourselves geographically. Thus we follow the traces of Buddhism from its area of origin to the Far East, thereby crossing Central Asia, China, Tibet, Mongolia, Korea and Japan. As we will see, this is not a single route, or a straightforward voyage, but a long journey with many side routes, with back and forward movements, and numerous encounters.
This journey is conditioned by many factors. Geographical, social, political, economic, philosophical, religious, and even linguistic environments all played their role. The desert separating the Central Asian mountains from the heart of China hampered the transmission of Buddhist monasticism for several centuries, while the belief in the sacred mountains of Tibet and in the divinity of the king as a mountain-hero facilitated the king's transformation into a bodhisattva and a buddha. A lack of state sponsorship in the most western regions of Buddhist expansion made it impossible for the Buddhist communities to grow. Severe economic crises, the collapse of international trade, and the success of Islam made them disappear. State sponsorship in China, Tibet, Mongolia and Korea, however; brought the Buddhist community and state affairs into a close relationship and influenced the faith of the samgha. Esoteric Buddhism promoted itself as a prime protector of the state, and as an excellent curator of physical health. Still, in India, it could not stop the gradual shift of the traditional supporters of Buddhism to Hinduism, a shift that dried out the financial resources of the monasteries, and undermined their existence. In other regions, financial support continued to flow in, and monasteries developed into powerful economic centres. As Buddhism went its way, linguistic borders were frequently crossed and translation activities became of prime importance. Translation lead to a natural as well as an artificial selection of texts, or created an overwhelming and sometimes confusing richness of similar, but yet different or even contradictory words of the Buddha instead. Choices were made, and these choices further influenced the direction the Buddhist community would take.
The rise of Buddhism occurred just after the end of the later Vedic period of Indian history (ca. 1000 BC-550 BC). According to tradition, its founder, the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama, was born in the Lumbini park near Kapilavastu, in the sixth/fifth century BC. Whereas it seems to be widely accepted that he lived for eighty years, the date of his parinirvana, i.e., passing away, is still under debate. After his enlightenment and his subsequent teaching of the way formalised in the "Four noble Truths", he was busy wandering for forty-five years through the region of the Middle Ganges from Kapilavastu in the north to Bodhgaya, Bihar, in the south, and from Mathura (Muttra, Uttar Pradesh) in the west to Campa (Bhagalpur, Bihar) in the east preaching his dharma or "Law".
Among his disciples were the Group of Five (pancavargika) with whom he had lived previously during the time of his austere penances and other people ordained by him. This samgha was immediately sent out on mission to teach the Buddhist Law. In the beginning, monks and nuns lived peripatetically, but very soon came to live in fixed residences which were donated and supported by female (upasika) and male (upasaka) lay followers. Matters concerning the preservation and transmission of the word of the Buddha were discussed in a series of councils. During these councils (Skt. samgiti or samgayana "singing" or "reciting in unison") the Buddha's dharma was recited, rehearsed, memorised and finally fixed in the Buddhist Canon. Shortly after the Buddha's parinirvana the samgha split into different schools (nikaya) holding separate pratimoksa ceremonies (public confessions of individual transgressions). Many different Hinayana schools are thus recorded.
For the spread of Buddhism it is important to note that India's material culture in the Buddhist scriptures is described as expanding and trade relations are far wider reaching during the time of the Buddha than in the previous Vedic period. In the great cities, as for instance in Varanasi (Benares), we find very influential mercantile communities organised in guilds. The texts also reflect a widespread samgha supported by kings and merchants. Evidently, the institution and maintenance of the samgha to a high degree depended on the existence of donations offered by the laity and the security and protection provided by the rulers. According to extant votive inscriptions, merchants and craftsmen were among the main supporters of cave monasteries and donors of funds for the construction of the great stupas in the centuries after the Buddha's parinirvana.
Buddhist archaeological remains of the initial period of the Maurya dynasty (ca. 320—ca. 185 BC) are found in the Buddhist "Middle country" (madhyadesa) at all places which the Buddha is said to have visited or where he had lived, in Avanti in Madhya Pradesh and in Maharastra.
Whereas the first two kings of the Maurya dynasty (Candragupta and Bindusara) seem to have supported the traditional Brahmans and the Jainas, the third king, Asoka (r. 268-233 BC), is known as the most important person responsible for the spread of Buddhism. He is also on record as the first ruler over almost the whole Indian subcontinent. He left a series of edicts which he had engraved on rocks and pillars and in which he recorded his conquests and achievements as well as his opinions and wishes. He seems to have been specially inclined to Buddhism as can be seen in his edict no. VIII. This Bhabhra edict is addressed to the Buddhist community, and Asoka recommends to monks and lay people the study of seven "sermons on the Law" (dhammapaliyaya). Also the inscription of Rummindei was written on the occasion of Asoka's pilgrimage to the birthplace of the Buddha in the twentieth year of his reign. Also during Asoka's reign, a Buddhist council was held at Pataliputra (now Patna, Bihar). On that occasion decisions were made concerning Buddhist missionary activities which became crucial for the spread of Buddhism and its development into a world religion. Buddhism did not only spread throughout the whole of Aoka's empire, but according to the Sinhalese chronicles, the Thera Moggaliputta sent missionaries to nine adjacent countries in order to propagate the Buddhist doctrine. Tradition further emphasises that also a son of Asoka, Mahinda, propagated Buddhism. He is said to have brought it to Sri Lanka.
Buddhism did not remain in India though. Xuanzang who travelled through India between 630 and 644 still reported the existence of about 2,000 Hinayana and 2,500 Mahayana monasteries, but in some regions the formerly rich monasteries already laid in ruins, abandoned for economical reasons, or destroyed by rapacious invaders or even by local rulers. The Sthaviravada schools retreated to the south, especially to Sri Lanka. The early schools of Buddhism of mainland India, the main centres of which had remained in Magadha and Northwest India, were finally destroyed when the Muslims took power around 1200 AD, thus putting an end to the great monastic universities in Bihar (Nalanda and Vikramasila) and Bengal. Among the laity, the Mantrayana or "Vehicle of Spells" which continued in Magadha, Bengal and Orissa appears to have been assimilated into similar Hindu traditions. Only in a restricted and secluded region of Nepal the Indian Mahayana survived as a synthesis of the Madhyamaka Mantrayana of the twelfth century and of Tibetan Buddhism.
The territorial expansion and geographical dispersion of the Buddhist community invoked different interpretations of the monastic discipline as well as of the doctrine. The wheel of the dharma was truly turned over and over again. But when did it start to turn and what does it tell? Does it concern the eightfold noble path, as the Sarvastivadins claim, or are all words of the Buddha equally included in it, as sustained by the Mahasamghikas, a school that came into being at the first schism of the Buddhist community? Or is it the four noble truths, or the path of vision, two early interpretations, as pointed out by Bart Dessein in his discussion on the wheel of the doctrine. Already in the first centuries of the spread of Buddhism, these questions were the central topic of many philosophical texts. Related to this, was the discussion on the first turning of the wheel. According to several vinaya (monastic) and abhidharma (doctrinal) texts, the wheel started to turn at the enlightenment of Kaundinya, one of the five monks to whom the Buddha is said to have explained his doctrine in the Deer Park at Varanasi. It was the first enlightenment caused by the turning of the wheel that was set in motion by the Buddha himself. This opinion, however, is again not shared by the Mahasamghikas, who claim that the wheel started to turn under the bodhi tree at the moment that the Buddha gave a sermon to a few merchants who passed by. As shown by Bart Dessein, it is probably in the latter sense that we have to understand the claim of the Mahasamghikas that all the words of the Buddha are included in the wheel of the doctrine: all that he said to the merchants was set in motion as the wheel of the doctrine started to turn.
In the north, Buddhism spread to the Central Asian regions, where it encountered many diverse populations such as the Greek descendants of Alexander the Great, the Bactrians, the Sogdians, the Parthians, the Sassanians, and the Sakas.
In her contribution on Buddhism in Gandhara, Siglinde Dietz points out that the first Buddhist presence in Central Asia must have come from the northwest of the Indian subcontinent, probably during the time of the Maurya king Asoka. Still, it is only from the first century BC and thus after the Greek presence in the Gandharan region that Buddhism really started to flourish, stimulated by the wealth, security and stability of the Kusana empire. Along the trade routes of this extensive empire material and cultural goods were exchanged. It was the start of a period of great productivity of Buddhist texts, as shown by the many recent findings of Buddhist manuscripts in the region. When, however, in the seventh century the Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang visited the Gandharan region, Buddhism had already seriously declined. This was probably partially due to a general decline of economic prosperity, leaving laymen without the necessary funds to support large monasteries. A second and perhaps even more decisive factor in the decline of Buddhism was the revival of Hinduism, a feature that Gandhara had in common with many other regions of the Indian subcontinent.
In Central Asia, an area of many political entities, Buddhism was further confronted with many new philosophical and cultural surroundings. In fact, Buddhism only partially found its way into the lay society. As shown by Xavier Tremblay in his contribution on the spread of Buddhism in Serindia, it was in the Bactrian region, unified under the reign of the Kusanas, that the Indian culture, and, along with it, Buddhism, could be widely propagated. The Kusanas, themselves mainly Mazdeans, thus created a political unity apt to the further spread of Buddhist ideas. Cultural regions that were outside or only briefly included in the Bactrian realms, such as Sogdia, only experienced very minor Buddhist influence. Those Sogdians who were followers of Buddhism were in fact not inhabitants of Sogdia proper, but lived in the Central Asian Tarim Basin, that was included in the Bactrian cultural realm. After 500 AD, Buddhism was perceived as a part of Chinese culture in the eastern regions of Central Asia. Depending on the willingness of Central Asian populations to get involved with their powerful Chinese neighbour, Buddhism was integrated, accepted, tolerated, or rejected.
From Central Asia, Buddhism mainly spread eastwards, but what about the West? In his study of Buddhism in the ancient West, Erik Seldeslachts points out that there are many indications of a westward movement of Buddhism, far into the Iranian region. This movement was probably triggered by the geographical overlap between the Buddhist and the Hellenistic regions. However, Buddhism never became very popular in the regions west of India, as the political and socio-economic factors, to a great extent responsible for its eastern expansion, played only a minor role. While from the fifth to the early second century BC, there were frequent military and political contacts between the East and the West, trade was mainly carried out by intermediaries, and direct trade routes were only scarcely developed. In the first two centuries AD, commercial contacts intensified, and the maritime trade between India and the Roman Empire was a growing phenomenon. Political contacts, however, were limited to occasional Indian embassies to Rome, and Buddhism never gained state sponsorship in the West. Still, Buddhist communities might have existed in cosmopolitan cities such as Alexandria in Egypt. They are, however, likely to have suffered from the political and economic crises that hit the western world from the third century on. In addition, the collapse of the international trade and the growing popularity of Christianity probably added to their disappearance. From the seventh century onwards, an expanding Islam finally pushed Buddhism back, further to the east, and out of Central Asia.
The largest region in the east to come into contact with Buddhism, was certainly China. The first attestations of a Buddhist presence date from the first century AD. New ideas appeared and a new style of community life was introduced. For the first time, men and later also women, lived together in monasteries organised on the basis of monastic disciplinary texts (vinaya texts). As shown by Ann Heirman in her contribution on the spread of the vinaya from India to China, the establishment of Chinese monastic life regulated by disciplinary rules was not an easy thing to accomplish. While in the first centuries of our era, there was a serious lack of monastic rules, the extensive translation activities at the end of the fourth and the beginning of the fifth century suddenly caused an overwhelming richness of available material. It confronted the Chinese with as many as four similar, but still different, vinayas, all belonging to the northern Buddhist schools. Consequently, for about three centuries, the Chinese monasteries made use of several vinayas, often without making a clear distinction between them. In the seventh century, protest against this eclectic use of the vinayas arose in monastic as well as in political circles. Finally, at the beginning of the eighth century, one single vinaya, the Dharmaguptakavinaya, was imposed by imperial decree on the whole of China, which is a clear example of how the monastic community and the state worked hand in hand in their striving for unity.
Ann Heirman also raises the question of the influence of the Sinhalese Theravada School in China. Except for some particular cases, such as the introduction of monastic life for nuns, this influence remained very meagre. Translations of Theravada texts were of a relatively late date. Only at the end of the fifth century and in the beginning of the sixth century a few texts were translated in the south of China, at a politically very unstable time. Moreover, although Hinayana vinaya were kept in honour by the Chinese monasteries, thus providing the Buddhist community with a proper transmission of the ordination since the time of the Buddha, at the time of the translation of the Theravada texts Mahayana ideas were already firmly established in the whole of China. There was no need for a new vinaya, nor was there a lot of interest in Hinayana philosophical ideas.
When Buddhism arrived in China, it came into contact with long established modes of thinking, cultural traditions and philosophies. Among the adherents of Chinese religious traditions mainly Daoist practitioners got interested in the new ideas introduced by Buddhism, being attracted by some apparently striking similarities, such as meditation techniques. In his paper on early Buddhism in China, Stephan Peter Bumbacher focuses on the reception of Buddhism in Daoist circles. While it is a well known fact that Buddhist supporters at first made use of Daoist concepts when translating their texts into Chinese to facilitate the spread of the new doctrine in China, Stephan Peter Bumbacher's contribution examines how Daoist disciples in the first centuries AD borrowed Buddhist practices and features. In this context, the Queen Mother of the West, Xi Wang Mu, played an intriguing role. By the time Buddhism began to gain popularity in China, she had become a deity who would save people from danger and, more importantly, could bestow upon them immortality. It seems that the population of the Han dynasty at first attributed a similar role to the Buddha. On the other hand, iconographical representations of the Queen Mother borrowed some striking features from the Buddha's iconography, such as shoulder-flames. Mythology, too, was a field in which adaptation of foreign elements took place. Laozi's birth story, for instance, clearly imitated crucial topoi of the birth story of the Buddha, and the very popular Daoist meditation technique in which deities are visualised goes back to the Indian practice of the visualisation of a Buddha. In the same way, the Daoist reverence for books, seen as holy objects or even as gods, may very well be borrowed from Buddhist Mahayana practices.
The introduction of Buddhism into China during the first centuries of our era and the subsequent development of a more Buddhist form of Daoism, and a more Chinese form of Buddhism, should not divert our attention from the fact that, after this initial phase, Indian and Central Asian texts and concepts continued to arrive in China. This was especially the case at the time of the Tang dynasty (618-906). As pointed out by Martin Lehnert in his contribution on esoteric Buddhism's way from India to China, also in this later phase of Chinese Buddhism, the Chinese context was not an isolated system on its own. Chinese scholars depended on translated texts and, particularly in esoteric Buddhism, often had to deal with different versions of the same text. In this context, Martin Lehnert examines the question of religious truth for a practitioner of "secret teaching". What is religious truth and why is it true?
The creation of tantric scriptures and ritual pragmatics proves to be largely dependent on local conditions of socio-political order. In the Indian context, tantric praxis helped to reconcile the Buddhist institutional life with the demand of the ruling and military clans for ritual protection and legitimation of the state and its rulers. It also paved the way to a Buddhist cult of the state. Through ritual magic a functional link between the mundane reality and the realisation of absolute truth was established.
At the Chinese Tang court, Buddhist monks assumed administrative and political responsibilities, and were often closely connected to imperial power. It is in this context that tantric Buddhism was introduced in China with its ritual magic, its sanctification of social and imperial order, and its practices that aimed at protecting the state. The translation process, however, was considered to be partially insufficient. Consequently, in order to fully understand the teaching and the scriptures, an instructed master was imperative. Only he could successfully apprehend the absolute, and thus serve as an advisor to the ruler. In fact, texts are not to be seen as explanations of the absolute truth. Rather, they are the absolute truth, only to be grasped by specialised and skilful masters.
At the end of the eighth century, Buddhism gradually lost support at the court, and Buddhist translation activities were suspended. It is not until the beginning of the Song dynasty (960-1279) that Buddhism, and also tantric Buddhism, regained some privileges. Still, the translations and certainly the exegetic studies of tantric texts were limited compared to the Tang period. In addition, Chan Buddhism proved to be more successful in its claim to offer a better alternative for a symbiosis of Buddhist, Daoist and Confucian values. The Indic background of tantric Buddhism became a burden hard to get rid of, and the economic costs of translations and sumptuous rituals gradually became inappropriate. The state ritual that was essential in tantric practices was taken over by the Confucian cult, and civil service examinations were aimed at the recruitment of competent Confucian scholars able to preserve the social and imperial order. The truth claim of the secret teachings lost its value, at least for the state. In private life, however, tantric rituals, intermingled with Daoist praxis, survived.
As is well known, Buddhism did not remain limited to the Chinese empire. From China, it found its way to the Korean peninsula at a time when Korea was divided into three kingdoms (4th-7th centuries AD), Koguryo, Paekche and Silla. At the same time, many Korean monks travelled to China in order to study Buddhism, and some of them even played an active role in the history of Chinese Buddhism. A few monks travelled as far as India. As discussed by Pol Vanden Broucke in his contribution on the first steps of Korean Buddhism, a leading factor during the period of the Three Kingdoms was the successful form of esoteric Buddhism, expressed in the biographies of three eminent monks: Milbon, Hyet'ong and Myongnang. Still today, these monks are honoured for their magic skills to protect the nation and cure diseases. They successfully subdued the native spirits and exceeded the power of the local shamans.
Buddhism became an integral part of the society, not only in China and Korea. It also found its way to Tibet and Mongolia, as discussed by Karenina Kollmar-Paulenz, Sven Bretfeld and Klaus Sagaster respectively. In her contribution on the Buddhist way into Tibet, Karenina Kollmar-Paulenz lays bare the complex puzzle of intermingling factors that led to the rise of Buddhism during the Yar-lung dynasty at the height of its power in the seventh to the ninth centuries. Although Tibetans might have come into contact with Buddhism as early as the fifth century AD, it was not until the reign of the famous king of the Yar-lung dynasty, Srong-btsan-sgan-po, who succeeded his father in
ca. 620 AD, that Buddhism aroused some interest. At the same time, a script suitable for the Tibetan language was brought back from India, a fact that benefited the spread of Buddhist ideas. Roughly a century later, under the reign of Khri-srong-lde-btsan (730-796), Buddhism was firmly established in Tibet. It was the time when Tibet reached its largest expansion. Buddhist masters, mainly Indian masters, were invited to the royal court at Lhasa and Indian Mahayana and tantric ideas were propagated. Chinese masters, too, played a significant role. In fact, when Indian monks brought Buddhism to Tibet, Buddhism was in all probability not a new religion, but was already well known through Chinese and Central Asian mediation. And even after the arrival of the Indian monks, Chinese influence remained substantial. Tibet was thus in no way a secluded country, and the influence of the surrounding regions is noticeable in textual and archaeological sources. Like many other countries, the state promotion of Buddhism led to a growing proximity between state affairs and the Buddhist samgha. Particularly in the early ninth century, the shift of power from the secular to the clerical clearly increased at the expense of the Tibetan nobility. The subsequent opposition of this nobility, anxious to preserve its privileges eventually lead to a temporary halt for Buddhism in the middle of the ninth century, a situation that was to change again a century and a half later, when a second spread of the dharma was inaugurated.
The second or "later spread" of Buddhism is discussed by Sven Bretfeld. The term "later spread" usually refers to missionary movements in Tibet from the late tenth century to around the thirteenth century, the formative period of Tibetan Buddhism as we know it today. In Tibetan sources this period is commemorated as a religious past that by its symbols explains the present, socially, culturally, as well as religiously. As pointed out by Sven Bretfeld, Tibetan Buddhism is not a homogeneous entity, but a conglomeration of very divergent opinions, also concerning both its history and what Buddhism actually is. One of the points under discussion is how far-reaching the extinction of Buddhism in the ninth century actually was. For the rNying-ma-pa masters ("the Old Ones") there is even no such thing as extinction. Instead they claim that their texts and practices have survived without interruption since the time of the first introduction of Buddhism in Tibet. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that, starting from the late tenth century, there was a revival of Buddhism, stimulated by the activities and the financial support of the kings of Western Tibet. From the west, it spread to the rest of the country. Very successful in his Buddhist teachings was the Indian master Atisa (d. 1054) who visited many places in Tibet and promoted a mixture of traditional Mahayana doctrine and tantric practices, as well as a synthesis of monastic and tantric lifestyles. More and more schools came into being that sought their identity in a lineage of transmission going back to a founding teacher who had acquired his oral instructions directly from a tantric deity. At the end of the thirteenth century Buddhism was firmly established in Tibet, mainly as a result of the many alliances with aristocratic families. Monastic leaders even began to play a role in Tibetan and foreign policy. This was certainly the case for the famous leader of the Sa-skya School, Sa-skya Pandita, who in 1244 was summoned to the Mongolian court.
Tibetan Buddhism did in fact not remain limited to Tibet, but expanded to regions as far away as the Mongolian grasslands. It was in fact the astonishing Mongolian expansion that brought the Mongol empire in contact with the Buddhist Uighurs and Tanguts, and with the Buddhist environments of Tibet and China. The first contact with Buddhism was probably established when Cinggis Khan conquered the Naiman region in the western part of Mongolia in the beginning of the thirteenth century. The spiritual advisor to the Naiman leader was Tatatungya, a Buddhist Uighur. He also introduced the Uighur-Mongolian script. Tibetan Buddhism reached Mongolia through the Xixia empire in Northwestern China, the empire of the Tanguts who were related to the Tibetans. However, many Tangut monasteries were not just replicas of Tibetan ones. The Tanguts had also created their own form of Buddhism based on Tibetan, Central Asian and Chinese elements. The Xixia Empire (ca. 982-1227) was the first eastern empire to fall under the attacks of the Mongol forces. In 1234, it was followed by the Jin dynasty, the dynasty of the Jurchen who occupied the northern part of China, and in 1279 by the Chinese Southern Song dynasty, that reigned over the southern regions of China. As a consequence, Chinese Buddhist schools, too, found their way to the Mongolian region. The most influential relationship, however, was to be the one with Tibet. In 1244, the head of the Tibetan Sa-skya-pa School, Sa-skya Pandita, was invited to the Mongolian court and empowered with leadership over Tibet, under the control of the Mongols. After Sa-skya Pandita's death in 1251, his nephew 'Phags-pa took over the leadership. He was later appointed by Khubilai Khan as his personal spiritual advisor. Tantric Buddhism was thus given a political as well as religious role. It was to protect the state and its leaders. As discussed in Klaus Sagaster's contribution, however, Buddhism was not only a matter for the Mongolian leadership, but also entered the minds and habits of the Mongolian people, as a religion conterminous with the traditional shamanistic beliefs. When the Mongolians lost power in China halfway through the fourteenth century, the strong link between Mongolia and Tibet also weakened. It was revived by Altan Khan (1507-1582) who conferred upon the head of the dGe-lugs-pa School the title of Dalai Lama. More than ever before, Buddhism now became the dominant religion in Mongolia.
All developments considered so far cannot but force us to think over again the main theme of the present work: "the spread of Buddhism". As pointed out by Griffith Foulk in his contribution on the spread of Chan Buddhism, metaphors, although being unavoidable, can easily deter our attention from the implication these metaphors have. What do we have in mind when we speak of "the spread", and how do we conceive of "Buddhism"? As it is clear from all contributions in the present work, "spread" seen as a metaphor for the distribution of an homogeneous creed is not a very apt image, for the various forms of Buddhism that existed in different parts around the world and in different periods, are not homogeneous at all, but differ both in character and content. However, if we see "the spread" as a spread of fire, the metaphor becomes much more fitting, for the process of combustion greatly depends on the fuel and environmental factors. Also the term "Buddhism" itself is not easily defined. What do we call "Buddhism"? What criteria do we use when we attach the label "Buddhism" to particular ideas, texts, images, institutions, or behaviours? It is clear that there is in fact no uniform set of criteria, and that depending on the region and on the period under discussion, we can only try to consciously determine for ourselves what is understood when we want to make use of the term "Buddhism". "Buddhism" in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, where no tangible proofs of any Buddhist institution have actually been found, does not and cannot have the same implication as "Buddhism" in fifth century China with its growing discussions on the strict interpretation of monastic rules (although it seems that some of Alexandria's inhabitants may have been influenced—perhaps indirectly—by certain Buddhist traits, as is the case with the New Testament periscope presenting Jesus as walking over the water and rescuing his disciples in their boat which was informed by a similar yet much older story dealing with the Buddha who walks over the water and rescues a boat).
Turning to the spread of Chan Buddhism, Griffith Foulk further raises the question how medieval Chinese Buddhists, all Mahayana followers, themselves conceived of the transmission of the dharma. For Mahayana Buddhists, the buddha-mind is in fact present in all living beings. Consequently it does not need to be transmitted, but only discovered. Still, the way to discover it needs to be passed on, and, as a consequence, lineages of transmission were created. This was especially so in the various Chan schools, where the founder of the tradition, Bodhidharma, is portrayed as the transmitter of a very special dharma that goes back to Sakyamuni himself. Discussions on the continuation of the Chan lineage arose, such as to whom was the dharma transmitted, and in which way did the subsequent transmissions take place? The importance of scriptures as a means for transmission decreased, and other devices were used instead. The dharma was passed on from mind to mind, from master to disciple. In this way, a Chan family with many branches, a mixture of historical and mythological relations, came into being. It influenced people's thinking at different times and places. In the Japanese Kamakura period (1185-1333), the Chan (Jap. Zen) mythology, ideology and teaching styles were transmitted to Japan. Zen monastic institutions, governed by a whole set of rules, were established, modelled on the great public monasteries of China. In recent years, finally, Zen Buddhism and the activities associated with it found their way to America and Europe, carefully transmitting the dharma along an unbroken master-disciple-lineage.
And so we have come to the end of our journey through Central and East Asia. Along the way, the wheel continued to turn. In some regions, it left virtually no traces, in other regions it became an integrated part of society and culture. It came along the merchant routes and introduced itself in the most diverse environments. It lived in symbiosis with many other philosophical and religious systems, it adapted itself and it was adapted. It was actively promoted, or just happened to be a useful instrument in the eyes of rulers. It attracted or lost the financial support of individuals and monarchs alike. Its texts were translated and explained, its notions rejected or embraced. It was turned over and over again.
Search for the Buddha: The Men Who Discovered India's Lost Religion by
Charles Allen (Carroll & Graf) from a master of British
Indian history comes the exciting story of the soldiers, explorers, and
adventurers who introduced Buddhism to the West. Now 2,500 years old, Buddhism
has 300 million followers worldwide and between two and three million adherents
in the United States. Yet, until the late eighteenth century when Sir William
"Oriental" Jones-a British judge in India-broke the Brahmins' prohibition on
learning the sacred language of Sanskrit, the Buddha's teachings were treasures
unappreciated by Westerners. Jones, who began to uncover clues about Buddhism's
origins from inscriptions on pillars and rocks, became the first of an
enthusiastic, and often eccentric band whose search for the Indian
subcontinent's secret religion is chronicled in this book of monumental
historical detection infused with the air of high adventure.
historian Charles Allen brings to life a handful of extraordinary eighteenth and
nineteenth century characters and takes readers to lost holy places across the
Asian world as he chronicles how Westerners found the Buddha, tracing the Great
Teacher's roots right back to India, where his words had been suppressed by
Islam and Hinduism. The cast includes the eccentric Hungarian wanderer Alexander
Csoma di Koros, the soldier-turned-archaeologist Alexander Cunningham, and the
brilliant scientist James Prinsep who in six weeks cracked the code of the
mysterious lettering inscribed on the Great Stupa at Sanchi, near the vast caves
of Western India. He went mad in the process, but his breakthrough led to the
discovery of the legendary Buddhist emperor, Ashoka.
Allen's heroes followed the Buddha's footprints from the plains of Bihar to the
foothills of the Himalayas and from India, Burma, and Ceylon, to Tibet and
Japan. Unwittingly, these men spurred a revival of Buddhism in nineteenth
century Asia. And in superbly telling their stories, Allen has helped record the
Western birth of a religion whose influence in America has increased
tremendously in just the past half-century.
John Marshall was the first modern archaeologist to work in Asia - modern in the
sense that he was qualified, and a full-time professional. But others had
preceded him, amateurs whose chief qualification was a fascination with local
culture and an interest in the past. They termed themselves 'Orientalists', a
word coined originally to describe a person from lands east of Europe, which
towards the end of the eighteenth century acquired the additional meaning of
`someone versed in oriental languages and literature'. Two centuries later, in
the last quarter of the twentieth century, `Orientalist' and the attendant term
`Orientalism' ('Oriental scholarship: knowledge of Eastern languages') gained a
further meaning when in 1978 the American academic Edward Said published
Orientalism, and sent a shock-wave through academic circles in Europe and
America that continues to reverberate to this day.
Said's central assertion was that Orientalism was an instrument of Western
imperialism, in the form of `an accepted grid for filtering through the Orient
into Western consciousness' whereby, in setting out to `discover' the cultures
of Asia, Orientalists reshaped an Orient to suit their own Occidental
prejudices. `The Oriental', Said wrote, `is depicted as something one judges
(as in a court of law), something one studies and depicts (as in a curriculum),
something one disciplines (as in a school or prison), something one illustrates
(as in a zoological manual). The point is that in each of these cases the
Oriental is contained and represented by dominating frameworks.'
back-pedalling that took place in Departments of Oriental Studies in the 1980s
as Western academics sought to correct their political positions in the light of
these fulminations was something wondrous to behold. Today the term Orientalism
carries heavy pejorative overtones, while the Orientalist is judged in much the
same terms as those Orientals whom he himself, according to Said, once sought to
judge, study, depict, discipline, illustrate, contain and represent.
Professor Said and his many supporters have consistently failed to ask is where
we would be without the Orientalists. They - the `sahibs' of my title - were
products of the Enlightenment that transformed European thinking in the late
eighteenth century, modern men who saw the world differently from their
predecessors. As Orientalists they initiated the recovery of South Asia's lost
past. The European discovery of Buddhism and the subsequent resurgence of
Buddhism in South Asia arose directly out of their activities. They also
established the methodology upon which the subcontinent's own historians,
archaeologists, philologists and students continue to base their studies. What
Said and his supporters seem to find so objectionable about this process is that
these young men (few women, alas, apart from those two remarkable middleaged
Victorian travellers and proto-feminists, Madame Blavatsky and Alexandra
David-Neel) were Westerners, who brought their own baggage with them. They were
also mostly Britons, and so it was mostly British ideas that they drew upon.
confronted by the Himalayan mountain barrier, one early British Orientalist,
Brian Hodgson, spoke of it despairingly as `a mighty maze without a plan'. The
same could be said for the state of knowledge, two centuries ago, about India's
past - except that here was a maze that was for the most part buried out of
sight. Working to uncover this hidden maze without the historical and cultural
signposts that we now take for granted, its excavators had little option but to
turn for reference to what they already knew and understood. In doing so, the
first Orientalists drew many conclusions that now seem laughable, such as that
the historical Buddha was African in origin, or that the British Isles were an
integral part of Hindu cosmography. Even the greatest of the first generation of
Orientalists, Sir William Jones, died believing that history began with Adam and
Eve and the Flood, unable to conceive that India could have a past pre-dating
the great lawgivers of the Old Testament.
like 'Oriental'Jones brought far more to India than cultural baggage. For some,
their Orientalism became a passion that overrode other considerations. They
became captivated by one or other of India's many mysteries and surrendered to
its charms, whether it was architecture, botany, zoology, or some altogether
more rarefied subject such as Rajput genealogy or Indo-Scythian coinage. And, as
the following chapters relate, few survived India's fatal embrace to go home to
die in Cheltenham. In the light of Said's charges, it is particularly ironic
that the Orientalism which initiated, supported and ultimately defended Indian
studies in its early days should then have become a victim of the Anglicisation
championed by Thomas Babington Macaulay and his friends in the mid 1830s and the
reforms intended to reshape India on British lines. Always thereafter on the
defensive, and with precious little government support or encouragement, the
heirs of Sir William Jones struggled on to uncover further, and preserve, what
was to them an alien culture - until, at last, a champion appeared on the Indian
scene who was determined to ensure that India's historical and religious
heritage should be universally recognised for what it was worth. A further irony
Edward Said's many supporters would not appreciate is that this champion was the
man whom Indian nationalists most love to hate: Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India
from 1899 to 19o4, the man who once declared that `the sacredness of India
haunts me like a passion'. Modern India owes a huge debt to this preserver of
its national treasures - as it does to those Orientalists for whom Said and a
number of nationalist historians have so little time.
the first generation of Orientalists focused their attentions chiefly on Moslem
and Brahmin culture for the simple reason that Islam and Hinduism, along with
Islamic and Hindu institutions, dominated the landscape. With the exception of
small pockets of Jainism in western and central India and patches of
Christianity in south India and Goa, no other religions were in evidence. The
land which had nurtured the historical Buddha and
to the early Buddhist civilisations had been so thoroughly cleansed that the
first Orientalists could see no trace of Buddhism on Indian soil.
Indian historians are happy to heap blame for the destruction of Hindu temples
on the waves of Muslim iconoclasts who wreaked havoc on their country from the
time of Muhammad ibn Qasim onwards. They have less to say about the destructive
role of Brahmin zealots in the overthrow of Buddhist viharas and the absorption
of Buddhist beliefs and iconography into reformed Hinduism -just as they remain
largely silent about the impact on the rest of Asia of what was India's greatest
export: the civilising influence of Buddhism. In these same circles the
pioneering work of Orientalists such as Jones, Prinsep and Cunningham is often
portrayed as part of an anti-Brahmin, proBuddhist conspiracy of `Britishers'
against Mother India.
then, is an attempt to set the record straight. It tells how the person of
Gautama Buddha, prince of the Sakya clan, and the faith he inspired was
`discovered' in the nineteenth century by a small group of Westerners and
restored - not just to India, but to the wider world. It is a tale of chance,
inspiration, set-back, scandal, dogged perseverance, and all the other twists
and turns one would hope to find in a good story - including a happy ending. It
is an extraordinary tale, and a true one. And no less extraordinary are the men
who made this discovery possible: the Orientalist sahibs.
Buddhism and Politics in Twentieth Century Asia by Ian Harris (Continuum) Historically, Buddhism has tended to prosper in societies organized in accordance with the sociopolitical teachings of the Buddha. The twentieth century has been a particularly traumatic time in its history, not least because traditional polities in its Asian heartlands have been eroded by such disparate factors as war, colonialism, modernity, westernization, nationalism, capitalism, communism and ethnic conflict. In this study a team of international scholars assess, on a country‑by‑country basis, the manner in which Buddhist organizations and individuals have resisted, come to terms with, or, in some cases, allied themselves with these forces.
It has become customary for Westerners to view Buddhism as an otherworldly and introspective religion. By examining the important issues of left‑right divisions in the monastic order, the rise of organized lay movements and Buddhist social activism, as well as explicitly Buddhist‑inspired political activity, this volume seeks to demonstrate that the emphasis on meditation and mental training is only one strand in this richly complex world‑historical tradition. The idea that religion and politics are mutually exclusive categories, the one oriented in an other‑worldly direction and the other concerned with practical matters of social organization, has become commonplace. This separation is assumed by many Buddhists today, some claiming that the mixing of the dharma with politics is a corruption of the Buddha's original message. However, the Buddha's teaching clearly possesses a political dimension for, without adequate political support, the monastic order would not have flourished and Buddhism would never have emerged as a historical phenomenon influenced by, and on occasions influencing, patterns of political power in the societies in which it was located. Any presentation of Buddhism as a tradition that focuses on its quietistic, meditation‑oriented dimension alone will necessarily be one‑sided. The uproar in Sri Lanka around November 1993 surrounding the publication of Buddhism Betrayed? by the Harvard‑based Tamil scholar Stanley Tambiah is a case in point. The book, issued by the University of Chicago Press, a highly regarded academic publishing house not given to the dissemination of tendentious tracts, investigates the Buddhist contribution to the rise of militant Sinhalese nationalism in the modern period. Since publication it has become the focus of a high‑profile campaign, led by prominent monks and Buddhist laypersons, to have it banned on the grounds that it is an insult to Buddhism and to the monastic order, even though most of the issues raised in the work have been generally accepted by the academic community for a considerable period. Indeed, in a partial parallel to the Rushdie affair, the book has become difficult to obtain in Sri Lanka and many of its critics have never properly examined its contents. Here, then, is a recent and eloquent demonstration of the fact that Buddhism and politics may never be entirely separated.
This volume began life as an attempt to update Jerrold Schecter's The New Face of Buddha: The Fusion of Religion and Politics in Contemporary Buddhism (1967). This pioneering work on the interaction between Buddhism and politics in selected countries of Asia is still of great interest. However, it had begun to look era bound, particularly given its strong focus on the situation in Vietnam in the 1960s and its thesis that Buddhist political engagement was an entirely novel response to the recent historical situation. It is also the work of a journalist rather than a scholar with a sound grounding in the study of both Buddhism and the history of Asian cultures. In this light it became clear that it would be better to write an entirely new book taking a rather different approach.
However, one problem today is that scholarship on Asian Buddhist culture has developed a good deal since Schecter's time, making it difficult for one author to dojustice to the entire Asian Buddhist region. The approach here has been to assign individual countries to authors with a specific expertise in the field, with myself acting as overall editor. All the countries of Asia in which Buddhism is a significant presence are covered, with the exception of China and Mongolia. This omission is explained in two ways. In the first place, the prevailing political culture in both countries has prevented Buddhism from flourishing to any great extent in the period to which this study is dedicated. Secondly, and as a partial consequence of this, it has proved difficult to find suitably qualified scholars to write with authority on Buddhism under communism. To make good these inadequacies I have included a general discussion of the modern history of Buddhism in communist Mongolia and China in the introductory chapter, `Buddhism and Politics in Asia: The Textual and Historical Roots', which begins by examining the evidence for political thinking in the early Buddhist textual tradition, particularly the way in which pre‑existing Indian notions of kingship were remodelled to bring them into line with Buddhist ethical norms. The paradigmatic rule of Asoka Maurya (third century BCE) and his modification of the canonical position on the respective relations of the Buddhist order (sangha) and the state are also considered, as are the various attempts to reproduce this political arrangement throughout Buddhist Asia. Alternative models of socio‑political organisation are also justified by the Buddhist tradition, and these are explored in theory and in practice. The chapter concludes by providing a historical introduction to the transformation of canonical and classical Buddhist political norms in the period immediately prior to the emergence of the modern epoch. As such, it sets the scene for the following chapters.
In the first country‑specific contribution, 'The Legacy of Tradition and Authority: Buddhism and the Nation in Myanmar', Bruce Matthews considers the history of Buddhist sa~hgha organizations and activism in Burmese colonial and postcolonial history. Particular emphasis is placed on the U Nu khit (era) and efforts to make Buddhism the state religion, which became one of the factors behind the Ne Win takeover thirty‑five years ago. Since then, however, the military regime has often resorted to Buddhism in defence of its ideology, and has regularly sought religious legitimation of its rule. The monastic order has been clearly divided over the matter of support for the regime and many monks have been compromised by allowing themselves to be bought off with gifts and privileges. Others have fled to Thailand while many soldier on quietly in Burma, waiting for an opportunity to become involved in the inevitable political upheaval and sea change in the nation's spiritual and moral destiny. To this end, monastic organizations with an activist agenda have been quietly reestablished although, since many have their own traditionalist agenda and claims for a role in the nation's future, they do not all support the National League for Democracy (NLD) of Aung San Suu Kyi.
My 'Buddhism in Extremis The Case of Cambodia' examines the manner in which Khmer Buddhism has been forced to adapt itself to a wide range of external influences throughout the modern period. Just as Cambodia was breaking free from oscillating Thai and Vietnamese overlordships in the middle of the nineteenth century the French arrived on the scene and effectively isolated the Khmer sangha from the rest of the Theravada Buddhist world. The French were particularly hostile to a new Thai‑inspired monastic grouping. However, despite considerable initial reluctance, the colonial authorities did promote the expansion and modernization of Buddhist education and scholarship. However, in the wake of an unsuccessful attempt to modernize many aspects of Khmer life, Buddhist monks led the first large‑scale protest against French rule, and after the country gained independence King Sihanouk experimented with a version of Buddhist socialism. These experiments failed and, in their aftermath, a set of tragic, short‑lived and futile regimes tore the country apart. Buddhism reached its nadir during the Khmer Rouge period. Since the Vietnamese invasion of 1979 the sahgha has very gradually reasserted itself as the only trustworthy nationwide organization capable of healing the populace after the traumas of the recent past. Restrictions on Buddhist practice have slowly lifted and exposure to external influences is accelerating. The impact of some foreign NGOs, who regard Buddhism as the only effective non‑government national network, has led to a recent rise in Buddhist social and environmental activism and certain high‑profile Buddhist peace activists are now tolerated by the authorities.
India is the land of Buddhism's origin, yet the religion had virtually disappeared from the subcontinent by the end of the fourteenth century. There has been some resurgence in modern times, and active Buddhist communities may be identified in Ladakh, Bengal, Maharashtra and among Tibetan refugee groups. Timothy Fitzgerald's 'Politics and Ambedkar Buddhism in Maharashtra' addresses the third area in this list. Most Ambedkar Buddhists belong to one large and politically important untouchable caste who were previously called Mahar and who have 'converted' to Buddhism from Hinduism since 1956. Members of this caste are located in both urban and rural areas and the author's analysis of the movement is based on the ethnography of three representative groups within the larger configuration: urban intellectuals, village peasants and temple‑based monks or 'dhammacharis'. The chapter also includes a brief biography of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (himself an untouchable, first Law Minister of independent India and the founder of the movement), along with a summary of his political and soteriological goals and his interpretation of Buddhist values and concepts.
In Japanese Nationalism and the Universal Dharma' Hiroko Kawanami shows how Buddhism has been patronized by the Japanese state and has played a major role as a legitimator of political power throughout much of its history. Buddhism was replaced as the effective state religion by State Shinto in 1872, when an ideologically constructed myth of the Emperor as direct descendant of the Sun Goddess was elaborated. However, the feudal legacy of Japanese Buddhism continued to express itself in the conservative and authoritarian nature of the Buddhist priestly class, and in the hierarchical structure of temple organizations and their support for political power well into the present century. Moreover, Buddhist organizations actively supported and served the military regime during the 1930s when right‑wing fascists held power. There were meagre attempts in the same period by liberal Buddhists to initiate a Buddhist revolutionary movement by joining forces with Marxist and socialist groups, but this alliance was brutally crushed as the country expanded militarily into China and the Asian continent. Religion and politics were only formally separated after defeat in the Second World War and the freedom of religion guaranteed by the 1947 Constitution brought about radical change in the religious arena. Disenchantment with established religion became widespread, leading to a growth of 'new religions', many of a social activist and explicitly political character. The Buddhist establishment also sought new modes of engagement, leading to active participation in peace movements, cooperation with other religious organizations, and a closer relationship with other Asian Buddhist nations.
Henrik Sorensen's 'Buddhism and Secular Power in Twentieth‑Century Korea' starts with the opening up of the 'Hermit Kingdom' to outside influences towards the end of the last century. The impact of Japanese colonization and the role of the Japanese missionaries in the regeneration of Korean Buddhism is considered as are the internal struggles between anti‑ and pro-Japanese factions within the sangha. The importance of a publishing boom in Buddhist periodical literature in defining the respective positions of these factions is an important issue here. With the establishment of the First Republic in 1945 Buddhist power struggles and sectarian infighting continued, particularly over the issue of married clergy ‑ itself a consequence of Japanese influence. As a result new schools and sects emerged. Since independence the relationship between sahgha and state has oscillated, depending on the political and religious affiliations of the President and his circle. However, during the period of Park Chunghee Buddhism was manipulated in an explicitly nationalistic direction, in part as a reaction to the outcome of the Korean conflict of the early 1950s. Some important disputes broke out between the government and the Chogye order in the mid 1980s but, as with so many other countries of Buddhist Asia, lay‑oriented, social activist forms of religion have increasingly threatened the vigour of the monastic sector in recent times.
By the end of the nineteenth century France had gained control of those Lao territories now making up the modern state of Laos. In 'Laos: From Buddhist Kingdom to Marxist State' Martin Stuart‑Fox shows how the resurgence of Buddhism during the French period had much to do with the colonial power's desire to differentiate Lao from Thai identity. By the 1940s Lao Buddhism was closely bound up with Lao nationalism, a relationship which continued under the independent Royal Lao regime after 1946. During the long‑drawn‑out civil war from 1946 to 1975, Buddhism was used by both sides in support of their own political agendas: by the Royal Lao government to commend its development programme to ethnic Lao; and by the Pathet Lao insurgents to criticize the impact of the American presence on traditional Lao culture and values. Within their own jurisdictions, however, both sides moved to reduce the independence of the sahgha and to make it an agent of government policy, a process for which each criticized the other and which engendered some opposition from within the monastic order. This process of enforced political control was taken much further after the declaration of the Lao People's Democratic Republic in 1975. Sectarian divisions were eliminated, while the Party‑controlled Lao Buddhist Association became just one of the member organizations of the Lao Patriotic Front. By 1980, however, repression of the Buddhist order began to decline and members of the Politburo started to attend Buddhist ceremonies. As a result Buddhism in Laos experienced something of a revival, a process that continues as Marxism loses its ideological appeal, and the Party resorts to nationalism as a basis for its own legitimation.
Tessa Bartholomeusi s 'First Among Equals: Buddhism and the Sri Lankan State' explores the extent to which Buddhism has shaped politics in Sri Lanka since the 1890s, the decade that gave rise to a Sinhala‑Buddhist nationalism that has continued to inform politics and religion to the present. The chapter pays careful attention to the relationship between ethnicity, nationalism and religion in mainstream political discourse since independence and considers the embodiment of ideas about the appropriate relationship between politics and Buddhism in the constitutions of pre‑and post‑independence Sri Lanka. It also indicates the influence of organized Buddhist groupings, both monastic and lay, in the creation of Buddhist responses to the 'Tamil question' and considers the ethnic and religious minority views that continuously contest the hegemony of Buddhism in an allegedly secular state. Sri Lanka regards itself as a secular country, which nevertheless gives Buddhism the 'foremost place' in its constitution. Detailed consideration of this tension provides a window into the paradoxical nature of the factors that have shaped, and have continued to shape, the relationship between Buddhism and the state in the modern world. In 'Centre and Periphery: Buddhism and Politics in Modern Thailand' Donald Swearer examines two specific periods in recent Thai history. During the reigns of Rama IV VI, from the mid nineteenth century up until World War II, the sangha was reformed and a common national religion created. Additionally, a distinctive civil religion was conjoined with Buddhism yet distinguished from it, as expressed in the formula 'Buddhism, King, Nation'. Since the 1960s, government‑sponsored programmes involving the sangha have proliferated. One of the aims of these programmes has been to foster national unity, for example to integrate hill tribe minorities in northern Thailand into the nation‑state, or to counter communist influence in the north‑east of the country. Yet tensions in Thai Buddhism which focus on liberal lay and monastic reformers (e.g. Buddhadasa and Sulak Sivaruksa on the one hand, and sectarian movements like Thammakai and Sand Asok on the other) have emerged. All, to a greater or lesser extent, may be read as a challenge to the religious settlement of the former period. The chapter also explores anomalies associated with the political potency of charismatic monks within the modern Theravada forest tradition.
The twentieth‑century history of Tibetan Buddhism is without precedent. Following the Chinese communist invasion in 1950 and the suppression of religion following the 1959 uprising, a significant proportion of Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama himself, fled their homeland to follow the religious life in the security of exile in India, or even further afield. In 'Renewal and Resistance: Tibetan Buddhism in the Modern Era', Ronald Schwartz investigates the relations between Buddhism and the state in pre‑1950 Tibet, with particular emphasis on the influence of the large monastic segment in Tibetan society. The chapter also assesses the role of Buddhism in the politics of diaspora and the Dalai Lama's symbolic importance in resolving regional and sectarian issues among the exile community. Another important issue is the politicization of Buddhism in Tibet itself and the relationship of religious ritual to political protest in the demonstrations of young monks and nuns since 1987. Schwartz concludes by considering Chinese strategies for controlling religion in Tibet, their campaigns against the Dalai Lama, and the ongoing controversy over the selection of the Panchen Lama.
In the final contribution to this volume, 'The Quest for Enlightenment and Cultural Identity: Buddhism in Contemporary Vietnam', Thien Do examines the evidence for Buddhist decline in Vietnam in the nineteenth century and before. He concludes that the 'theory of decline' owes more to the prejudices of the court‑based Confucian literati and statesponsored Zen fundamentalism than to any hard evidence. Against a background of French colonial involvement, popular Buddhist millenial movements of resistance are attested from the 1860s. However, the 1930s were a particular period of revitalization as Buddhists began to occupy the vacuum created by the court literati's lack of nerve in the continuing anti‑colonial agitation. To this period we can also assign the first modern attempts to organize Buddhism on a national basis. Mass publishing and a variety of periodicals advanced the Buddhist cause. Despite growing criticism of Buddhism from Marxist intellectuals a more engaged version of Buddhism emerged, culminating in the famous events of 1963 which ultimately led to the downfall of Diem and his government. Since that highwater mark a variety of schisms relating to the fundamental tension between quietism and social activism have adversely affected Vietnamese Buddhism. Since the unification of the country in 1975 the sangha has suffered from differing levels of state repression, although lay‑based movements seem to have fared more favorably.
Contents: List of Contributors Preface Buddhism and Politics in Asia: The Textual and Historical Roots by Ian Harris; The Legacy of Tradition and Authority: Buddhism and the Nation in Myanmar by Bruce Matthews; Buddhism in Extremis: The Case of Cambodia Ian Harris Politics and Ambedkar Buddhism in Maharashtra by Timothy Fitzgerald; Japanese Nationalism and the Universal Dharma by Hiroko Kawanami; Buddhism and Secular Power in Twentieth-Century Korea by Henrik H. Sorensen; Laos: From Buddhist Kingdom to Marxist State by Martin Stuart-Fox; First Among Equals: Buddhism and the Sri Lankan State by Tessa Bartholomeusz; Centre and Periphery: Buddhism and Politics in Modern Thailand by Donald K. Swearer; Renewal and Resistance: Tibetan Buddhism in the Modern Era by Ronald D. Schwartz; The Quest for Enlightenment and Cultural Identity: Buddhism in Contemporary Vietnam by Thien Do; Index