Buddhism on the Silk Route
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Buddhism on the Silk Route

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Item Code: UAE352
Author: G.K. Lama
Publisher: Sharada Publishing House, Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2022
ISBN: 9789383221394
Pages: 360 (Throughout B/w Illustrations)
Cover: HARDCOVER
Other Details 11.00 X 9.00 inch
Weight 1.43 kg
About the Book
Oliver Wild, writing about the Silk Route, remarks that the most significant commodity carried along this route was not silk, but religion.

The countries laying on the Silk Route and how this route had contributed to propagate Buddhism in those countries are the theme of this book. The present book gives detailed and current information of the history of the Silk Route and also throws light on those countries where Buddhism reached through this Route.

The idea of the Silk Road has long transcended such narrow interpretations. Over the past thirty- odd years, countless articles, books, and museum exhibitions in almost every corner of the world have emphasized the movement of objects (silk being only one among many kinds of goods), people (on their own volition and as slaves), animals, ideas (e.g. religions), technological k n owl e d g e, languages, and even pathogens and genes.

It dedicated to throw light on the Silk Route and the existence of Maitreya cult on this route. It deals with status of Buddhism in China, Buddhist literature and art and architecture while attention was made on Central Asian Buddhism.

The book also throws light on the origin and development of Buddhism in Afghanistan, Tibet, Kashmir and its contribution to propagate Buddhism in China and Tibet. Lastly, discusses the status of Buddhism in Assam and Myanmar also.

The information given in the book is fully supported by maps, figures, tables and illustrations. Hope, the book will be beneficial for those knowledge-seekers who are interested in Buddhism and the Silk Route.

About the Author
Dr G.K. Lama (b. 1963),Professor, Department of AIHC and Archaeology, Centre of Advanced Study, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, having specialization in the field of Archaeology, Buddhism and South-East Asian Studies and has 13 books on his credit. He has presented 67 research papers in various national and international seminars and 103 research papers have been published in various reputed journals, edited books, conference proceedings and felicitation volumes.

He has completed a Major Research Project entitled Archaeological Investigation in and around Nalanda granted by the University Grants Commission, New Delhi, which was submitted in 2014. The author has also completed 16 projects regarding archaeological investigations in Sikkim, Eastern and Western UP and Bihar with the kind permission of Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi. He has invited twice to Sri Lanka and once to Thailand to deliver special lectures.

Preface
Though the shifting sands have buried millions of footprints trodden on the Silk Road, the buried remains of those who had walked and died along the Silk Road were carefully protected by the Central Asian deserts. Archaeologists have been able to uncover some such remains, and find Chinese silk products of various periods from the second century BCE to the fourteenth century CEO This discovery proves that silk was playing an important role on the Silk Road for more than a millennium. From archaeological findings, we see that the luxurious tapestries, brocades and silk shoes produced during the Han dynasty before the third century CE, which only the royal families and aristocrats and the very rich in China could consume, were quite wide plead in Central Asia. Even the dead bodies from some Central Asian countries were wrapped with Chinese silk cloth in ancient times.

Oliver Wild, writing about the Silk Route, remarks that the most significant commodity carried along this route was not silk, but religion. Buddhism came to China from India this way, along the northern branch of the route. The first influence came as the passes over the Karakoram were first explored. The Eastern Han Emperor Ming-Ti is thought to have sent a representative to India to discover more about this strange faith, and further missions returned bearing scriptures and bringing with them Indian priests. With this came influences from the Indian subcontinent, including Buddhist art work, examples of which have been found in several early second century tombs in present-day Sichuan province. This was considerably influenced by the Himalayan massif, an effective barrier between China and India. Hence, Buddhism in China is effectively derived from the Gandhara culture by the bend in the Indus River, rather than directly from India. The transmission of Buddhist thought and culture to China was largely through the Silk Route. This is the reason why we are dwelling on the history and geography of this famous trade route which was frequented by the merchants. It is not certain when Buddhism reached China, but when the Silk Route opened in the second century BCE, missionaries and pilgrims began to travel between China, Central Asia and India. Buddhism reached the pastures of Tibet at a rather later period, not developing fully until the seventh century. Along the way it developed under many different influences, before reaching Central Asia. This is displayed very clearly in the art work, where many of the cave paintings show people with different ethnic backgrounds, rather than the expected Central and East Asian peoples.

However, the idea of the Silk Road has long transcended such narrow interpretations.

Over the past thirty-odd years, countless articles, books, and museum exhibitions in almost every corner of the world have emphasized the movement of objects (silk being only one among many kinds of ~foods), people (on their own volition and as slaves), animals, ideas (e.g. religions), technological knowledge, languages, and even pathogens and genes. In contrast to exclusive terms such as "silk," "road," or "trade," it has the advantage of being inclusive in the sense that it encourages scholars and the general public alike to peer beyond the limits of material and economic exchanges. The concept of movement as an analytical tool has the capacity to open our minds to the fact that the flow of living beings, material culture, intellectual property, and genetic information among different locales was not necessarily linked to business ventures.

The countries laying on the Silk Route and how this route had contributed to propagate Buddhism in those countries are the theme of this book. Second and third chapters are dedicated to throw light on the Silk Route and the existence of Maitreya cult on this route. Fourth chapter deals with status of Buddhism in China, Buddhist literature and art and architecture while attention was made on Central Asian Buddhism in fifth chapter. Buddhism in Afghanistan was discussed in sixth chapter and seventh chapter throws light on the origin and development of Buddhism in Tibet, literature and art and architecture. Eighth chapter deals with Buddhism in Kashmir and its contribution to propagate Buddhism in China and Tibet. into and tenth chapters are dedicated to the status of Buddhism in Assam and Myanmar, respectively.

In this way, the present book not only presents detailed and current information of the history of the Silk Route but also throws light on those countries where Buddhism reached through the Silk Route. The information given in the book is fully supported by maps, figures, tables and illustrations. Hope, the book will be beneficial for those knowledge-seekers who are interested in Buddhism and the Silk Route.

Introduction
The term "Silk Road" was the brainchild of the German geographer Baron Ferdinand Van Rich thofen. Silk once may have been transmitted along these paths was no more than a casual observation by Rich thofen since he was mainly concerned with surveying Eurasian geography. As early as the twentieth century, generations of scholars in his wake latched on to the notion of the Silk Road as a single mercantile highway, whose sole purpose was to supply the Mediterranean cultural sphere with Chinese silk. Chinese scholars have conceived three such Silk Routes: The cross-border Eurasian thorough-fare linking Europe with eastern China, The maritime route between Chinese ports and eastern coast of Africa, and A Southern Silk Road linking southwest China with South Asia and extending further west from eastern Indian cities and ports over land and seas. The starting point for the Eurasian Silk Road was Loyang in today's Henan Province in eastern China.

With a 3,000 year old history, and as the imperial capital of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 CE), Loyang was a hub of international trade and cultural intercourse just as the trans-Eura asian Silk Road got inaugurated.

The trans-continental Silk Road starting from Loyang ended in the other great cosmopolitan city of the Western Hemisphere-Rome. The famous saying that "All roads lead to Rome" could be paraphrased into "All roads lead to Loyang and Hangman (present Xian)". During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) there were eminent gatherings and congregations of international envoys, traders and Buddhist monk-scholars, as well as Nestorians, Islamic and Manichaean priests and preachers.

There were other important mid-way stops on this Eurasian thoroughfare, one of which was Tashkent.

From Tashkent, those coming to India took a southward route entering the valleys of Kashmir and Punjab through the Khyber Pass. Most of the Chinese pilgrims came through this route which is also a branch of the Silk Road. India was not only at the end of the southern branch of the Eurasian Silk Road, but also on the thoroughfare of the southern Silk Road that connected southwest China with the European countries. As the Persian middle man charged their European customers the price of gold for the Chinese silk, their Roman buyers sought another outlet to reach China. They sailed out from the Red Sea into the Indian Ocean, and used the Indian coasts as to reach the Bay of Bengal. From there they could obtain Chinese silk transported through Yunnan and Myanmar.

When exactly did the Silk Road come into existence? Yet, what might demand a fairly simple answer in the form of a specific point in time at first glance is more complicated on closer inspection.

Strictly speaking, there were two points of origin rather than a single one. It is important to distinguish the emergence of the Silk Road as a concept, on the one hand, and the interpretation of the historical processes that are associated with the Silk Road idea, on the other. Evidence of textile skills was shown by archaeological discoveries of Mohenjo-daro and Harappan civilizations dating 4,000 years back. Thread of mixed wild silk and cotton with a vintage of the second half of the second millennium BCE has been found at archaeological sites at Nevasa and Chandoi. With such a background, ancient Indians would naturally be active in looking for the Chinese silk-worm-Belmar mon-who had, before the Christ, no habitat outside China where it had been domesticated in the second or third millennium BCE if not earlier. That India was one of the first foreign countries to take a keen interest in Chinese silk industry has been well documented. Kautilya's Arthashastra written in the fourth century BCE contains a sentence which deserves careful examination: Kauseyam Chinpattascha Chinbhumijah. This sentence has referred to Kauseya and Chinapatta being the product of Chinabhumi, i.e. China. When did India begin to import silk from China? When did India start her own silk industry using Bombay more? A satisfactory answer to these questions will definitely enrich our insight into the shared cultural heritage between India and China.

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