dissemination of buddhism- thailand, cambodia, laos, vietnam

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Dissemination of BuddhismThailandCambodiaLaosVietnam


Missionaries sent by king Asoka, Sona and Uttara (refer to the notes from earlier discussions on Dissemination of Buddhism in Thailand)

Monks sent by Thai rulers to study in Sri Lanka and came back newly re-ordained with the teachings of Theravada.Who brought Buddhism here?

How?After the 3rd council, King Asoka help Moggallitissa select monks to become Dharma preachers.

According to the records of Mahavamsa, Sona and Uttara reached Suvarnabhumilocated in modern day Nakhon Pathom.

What are the stories?King Ramkhamhaeng and BuddhismBefore the thirteenth century, the region now called Thailand was composed of many small independent kingdoms.

Buddhist influence had already been felt in this region as a result of contact with neighboring countries.

What are the stories?At the end of the thirteenth century, Theravada Buddhism gained the support of the Thai king, Ramkham-haeng. He invited Buddhist monks to teach in his capital city of Sukothai. He also established relations with Sri Lanka by sending monks there to study.

What are the stories?Furthermore, he began the tradition of appointing a Sangha chief to oversee the administration of the monastic community. Under his patronage, all the people in his kingdom were said to have become Buddhists.

What are the stories?King Luthai and the monastic lifeAbout half a century later, there was another devout and learned king called Luthai who was a strong supporter of Buddhism.

He joined the Order for a period of time and is said to have initiated the Thai tradition of Buddhists becoming monks for a limited period of time, usually about three months.

ResultsTheravada Buddhism became part of the Thai culture which can be seen up until today; coming in of Buddhist teaching, scriptures and practices.

Important Buddhists structures erected in many parts of Thailand especially the wats and Buddha statues. Buddhist arts.

Interweaving of Thai culture with Buddhist traditions which is known by outsiders and presented by books today as Thai Buddhism



According to the Mahavamsa, the missionaries sent by King Asoka reached Suvarnabhumi headed by elders Sona and Uttara

By the end of the 4th century, Indian influence had spread throughout the kingdom of the Cambodians. In the following two centuries, the rulers practiced Hinduism but gave some support to the Buddhist communities, which practiced mainly Mahayana Buddhism.Who brought Buddhism here?

How?Missionaries, monks, and the initiative of Cambodian kings like Suryavarman who was a Mahanaya Buddhists but also allowed for the teaching of Theravada;

And the great King Juyavarman VII who initiated the building important structures like city of Angkor Thom. He was also a Mahayana Buddhists but allowed for the teaching of Theravada.


Because of him, a clear line dividing Hinduism and Buddhism became evident.

King Jayavarman VII had sent his son Tamilinda to Sri Lanka to be ordained as a Buddhist monk and study Theravada Buddhism according to the Pali scriptural traditions.

Tamalinda then returned to Cambodia and promoted Buddhist traditions.

What are the stories?The Buddhist monks of the region were learned, and in the fifth century some were said to have been invited to China to translate Buddhist texts from Indian languages to Chinese.

In the seventh century, Cambodia had a succession of rulers who patronized Hinduism and suppressed Buddhism. It was not until the ninth century that Buddhism began to receive some royal patronage from the rulers.

What are the stories?King Jayavarman VII (end of 12th Century- early 13th century) was a devout Buddhist. Under him Mahayana Buddhism became for a time the dominant religion of the kingdom.

He built city of Angkor Thom, in the centre of which was a temple called the Bayon. At the centre of the temple was a huge tower with four human faces carved on it.

Surrounding the central tower were other smaller towers also carved with human faces. These faces portray the king as the "Buddha-king".

What are the stories?It was also during the reign of Jayavarman VII that Burmese monks began to teach Theravada Buddhism among the common people.

The Thais who invaded Cambodia in the fourteenth century also contributed to the spread of Theravada Buddhism. By the middle of the century, Theravada Buddhism had become widely accepted by the Cambodian people.

ResultsIn the centuries that followed, Buddhism continued to be practiced by the people of Cambodia.

Even when the country came under French colonial rule in the mid-nineteenth century, Buddhism was still being patronized by the kings, though on a reduced scale.

After Cambodia had gained independence, some progress was made in Buddhist education and the publication of texts.



Laos Prince Fa Ngum ( other texts, Fa Ngoun) together with Theravada Buddhists monksWho brought Buddhism here?

Fa Ngum studied Buddhism under a Khmer monk. He then married a Buddhist Khmer princess.

Then the king of Cambodia gave an army helping Fa Ngum take Laos. As requested by the princess, Fa Ngum brought Cambodian monks to teach Buddhism.How?

What are the stories?In exile with his father, Fa Ngum journeyed south and took up residence in the Khmer royal court at Angkor. There, Fa Ngum studied under a Theravadin monk, gained favor of the Khmer king, and eventually married one of his daughters.

In about 1350, the king of Angkor provided Fa Ngum with an army so that he could reassert control over his father's lost inheritance.

What are the stories?By this time, Angkor was in a state of decline, and the political centre of gravity in Thailand had shifted southward from Sukkhothai to Ayutthaya.

Angkor's weakness and this shift in power in Thailand left the way open for Fa Ngum to establish an independent kingdom, with ties to Angkor, along the upper reaches of the Mekong river.

What are the stories?Fa Ngum's coronation at Luang Phrabang (Laos) in 1353 marked the beginning of the historical Laos state.

It also established the farthest northern extent of Khmer civilization, since Fa Ngum's kingdom was modeled on Angkoran precedents even though the Laos are racially related to the Thais.

What are the stories?Furthermore, Fa Ngum invited his Buddhist teacher at the Khmer court to act as his advisor and chief priest. Under his influence the new kingdom of Laos became firmly Theravadin, until today.

This Buddhist master brought with him from Angkor a Buddha image known as the "Phra Bang". This image accounts for the capital's name and like the tooth relic of the Buddha in Sri Lanka, became the palladium of the kingdom.

ResultsEstablishment of the kingdom of Laos under Fa Ngum.

Introduction of Theravada Buddhism through the monks invited by the Fa Ngum as requested by his wife.



Who brought Buddhism here?Monks were said to have come from China at the end of the second century CE Later, monks from India and Central Asia also arrived by land and sea. They brought Mahayana Buddhism with them.

Theravada Buddhism would become incorporated through the annexation of the Khmer land and Khmer people (Cambodia)

How?Missionary monks traveling by land and by sea coming from India and from China.

What are the stories?Buddhism from China influenced the northern state, being for several centuries under the domination of the Chinese empire.

The earliest monks were said to have come from China at the end of the second century CE Later, monks from India and Central Asia also arrived by land and sea.

What are the stories?The people who also worshipped the native deities practiced the Pure Land school of Buddhism. The Chan school of Buddhism, on the other hand, flourished in the monasteries and among Buddhist scholars.

Both the rulers and the common people for their literacy respected its monks. Some of them became famous scholars, poets, writers and even royal advisors.

What are the stories?By the end of the second century, Vietnam developed a major Buddhist centre in the region, commonly known as the Luy-Lau centre, now in the Bac-Ninh province, north of the present day Hanoi city.

Luy-Lau was the capital of Giao-Chi, (the former name of Vietnam), and , who were following the sea route from the Indian sub-continent used by Indian traders.

What are the stories?In the next 18 centuries, due to geographical proximity with China and to being twice annexed by the Chinese, the two countries shared many common features of cultural, philosophical and religious heritage.

Vietnamese Buddhism has been greatly influenced by the development of Mahayana Buddhism in China, with the dominant traditions of Ch'an/Zen, Pure Land, and Tantra.

ResultsIt must be noted that Vietnamese Buddhism has had a symbiotic relationship with Taoism, Chinese spirituality, and the indigenous Vietnamese religion, thus producing the Vietnamese Buddhism that most know of today.

ResultsA number of Mahayana sutras and the Agamas were translated into Chinese script at that Luy-Lau, including the sutra of Forty Two Chapters, the Anapanasati, the Vessantara-jataka, the Milinda-panha, etc.