A History of the Decline and Spread of Buddhism in India and Eastern Asia

Topics: Buddhism

The Decline and Spread of Buddhism

Buddhism is unique in that it lost dominance in its birthplace, but became dominant elsewhere. In India, Buddhism was dominant for only a relatively brief amount of time. However, the religion did not just die after it declined in India, but instead, it spread into Eastern Asia, especially China and Japan. Buddhism’s wide geographical span and large community mark it as a world religion. Many factors made many Indians return to the comfort of Hinduism, but the backing of Buddhism by the Chinese Emperor Wu along with the backing of Prince Shotoku Taishi in Japan caused Buddhism to not only survive, but flourish in Eastern Asia.

The scale of Buddhism, both in size and range marks it as a world religion.

Buddhism gained, and held popularity among India’s caste-hating population. However, when the Gupta Empire began to decline around 550 AD, Buddhism also began to decline in India. As politics changes the lower caste members, who liked casteless Buddhism, moved back towards Hinduism as a kind of anchor during changing times in India.

The similarity between Hinduism and Buddhism, combined with the less strict loyalty of polytheistic religions caused many Buddhists to stop bothering to call distinguish themselves as Buddhists, but instead, they just meshed back into the mass of Hindus. The final death blow to Buddhismwasn the invasion by Muslims between 1,000 AD and 1,200 AD. Muslims saw Buddhism as a threat to Islam, so they destroyed the centers of Buddhism found within its monasteries and schools.

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Coming in with trade, Buddhism found its way into China among spices and other goods on the Silk Route. When Buddhism originally came into China, it was during the Han Dynasty, and China was infatuated with Confucian philosophy. Finally, as the Han Dynasty fell, Buddhism largacceptedce. In the North T, oba rulers found commonality with the foreign nature of Buddhism, and as a result, patronized it and regulated it. In the Sout,h Buddhism offered an ordered life for the exiled emigres from the northern court. A major milestone for Buddhism in Southern China was when Emperor Wu established it as the official state religion, and subsequently built temples, sponsored Buddhist assemblies, and wrote Buddhist commentaries.

As the dynasty changed to the Tang Buddhism continued to flourish. Then the Tang emperor Wuzong began to try to rid China of Buddhism because he felt threatened by the power of Buddhism. Over the next few centuries, Wuzong’s mission to eradicate Buddhism was either reversed or continued by his successors.

Buddhism came to Japan from China, through the Paekcha kingdom of southwest Korea. At its arrival, Buddhism established itself as both a political and religious structure. Clans close to the emperor were divided by their views of the newly arrived religion. The crowning moment for Buddhism in Japan occurred when Prince Shotoku Taishi, who effectively ruled Japan, began to build temples, encourage Buddhism, bring Buddhist monks from Korea, and send four missionaries to Sui China to learn more about Buddhism. Shotoku further promoted Buddhism by including it in his constitution for Japan. Buddhism became a pillar of Japanese society, with temples being built in Japan’s capital, offering a way to centralize Japan.

Buddhism has a large community and covers large amounts of land. After falling in India Buddhism went on to become the official religion of both Japan and China, two major countries of their time, along with a multitude of other Southeastern Asian countries. This caused the number of Buddhists to swell. These characteristics are common in both Judaism, Islam,

Christianity, and Hinduism.

After being driven out of India by Muslims between 1000 AD and 1200 AD Buddhism flourished in Eastern Asia. Buddhism became the official religion of both China and Japan, along with a multitude of minor nations in Eastern Asia. As the number of Buddhists swelled in Eastern Asia, Buddhism became one of the major world religions.

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A History of the Decline and Spread of Buddhism in India and Eastern Asia. (2022, Jun 21). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/a-history-of-the-decline-and-spread-of-buddhism-in-india-and-eastern-asia/

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