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Studies in The History and Culture of Ancient Indian Buddhism

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Item Code: UAK294
Author: Birendra Nath Prasad
Publisher: Research India Press
Language: English
Edition: 2022
Pages: 216
Other Details 8.50 X 5.50 inch
Weight 430 gm
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About The Book

Through an analysis of textual and archaeological sources, this book explores some aspects of the complex history of Buddhism in ancient India. Themes delved into are: the process of Buddhist identity formation in the Middle and Upper Ganga Valley during the early historic period; patterns of patronage to Buddhism in north western India and western Deccan; perceptions of the agrarian world of early historic north-western India in a Buddhist text; early Buddhist medicinal practices as indicated in literary and archaeological sources; and socio-economic and cultic dynamics in the hinterland of a Buddhist monastery in early historic and early medieval Magadha.

About the Author

Dr. Birendra Nath Prasad is Assistant Professor at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, where he teaches social history of religion in ancient India and Southeast Asia. His recent publications include Monasteries, Shrines and Society: Buddhist and Brahmanical Religious Institutions in India in their Socio-Economic Context (edited, Delhi, 2011); Archaeology of Religion in South Asia: Buddhist, Brahmanical and Jaina Religious Centres in Bihar and Bengal, c. AD 600-1200 (Delhi, London and New York, 2021); Rethinking Bihar and Bengal: History, Culture and Religion (Delhi, London and New York, 2021); Social History of Indian Buddhism: New Researches (edited, Delhi, 2021); and many peer-reviewed research articles in prestigious international journals such as Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies (Oxford), Buddhist Studies Review (London), Religions of South Asia (London/Sheffield) and Berlin Indological Studies.


In the poly-religious landscape of ancient India, in which Buddhism was just one of the religions present in society, any study of Buddhism offers some methodological challenges. One may begin with reiterating David N. Gellner's arguments that Buddhism contains a hierarchy of teachings and it has co-existed with other systems in a structured hierarchy (Gellner 2003: 51). In almost all parts of India, where Buddhism was functioning as in institutional religion in past, it had to negotiate the presence of other religions: mostly Brahmanism, and occasionally Jainism and the religion of the Ajivikas. Besides, it also had to negotiate the presence of different animistic cults. To compete with other religions, it had to offer not only some unique theological tenets, but also some 'practical' services like medicine. To attract patronage from different segments of society, it had to negotiate socio-economic and political processes. To sum up, a religion, which began as a religion of world-renouncing monks, was forced to negotiate worldly institutions and processes in the course of its evolution in India. These negotiations assumed different contours in different parts of India.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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