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Title: Contextualising the navel of the earth : the emergence, sustenance and religious transformation of Buddhism in the Bodhgaya region (circa 300 BCE-1200 CE)
Author: Amar, Abhishek Singh
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2009
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This study aims to examine the history of Buddhism at its birth-place, Bodhgaya, in the South Bihar region in early India (c. 300 BCE - 1200 CE) by analysing its social milieu and broader regional context. In an attempt to inquire into processes that helped the Buddhist sahgha emerge and sustain itself at Bodhgaya, this research highlights the key role of Buddhist sahgha in the development of a sacred landscape in and around Bodhgaya. Based on the findings of an archaeological survey of the region that surrounds Bodhgaya, conducted in 2005-06, this work traces the spread of Buddhism in tandem with settlements and the impact this spread had on socioeconomic processes in the region. While doing so, it argues that the Buddhist sahgha played a crucial role in the material and economic development of the local settlements by introducing and regulating irrigation mechanisms to promote rice- production, which helped them in spreading Buddhism and developing a new network of patronage for their sustenance. Finally, it also examines the nature, dynamics and responses of Buddhism to the competition and contestation that it faced from Brahmanical religious orders (Vaisnava and Saiva) in the study period. While analysing Buddhist responses, this thesis argues that the Buddhist sahgha dominated the Bodhgaya region by adopting a policy of ''hierarchic-inclusion', which was informed by the political dynamics and religio-political order of the south Bihar region. Thus, this thesis provides a historical analysis of the processes that were devised by the Buddhist sahgha for its development and sustenance in the Bodhgaya region.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral