1. THE SPREAD OF HINDUISM
AND BUDDHISM BEYOND
World Civilizations and Cultures
▪ Region is known as Kurdistan. In the ancient times, the
inhabitants of Mitanni were known as Hurrians. In the
Judeo-Christian Bible, they are known as the Horites.
▪ Sanskritic interpretations of Mitanni names
EX: Indaruda/Endaruta - helped by Indra
Artashumara - who thinks of Arta or Ṛta
Šubandhu - having good relatives
Citrarata - whose chariot is shining
Biridashva - whose horse is dear
SPREAD OF HINDUISM BEYOND INDIA
3. ASIA MINOR
▪ The Hittites / Nesili, whose Empire was known as 'Hatti' and
▪ They worshipped gods like Indra, Nasatyas (Ashvins) Mitra
▪ This is confirmed by the Suppiluliuma-Shattiwaza Treaty
between the Hittites and Hurrians. The beleaguered Tusratta
was then murdered by his son in a palace coup. Tusratta's other
son, Prince Shattiwaza, fled Mitanni and was eventually given
sanctuary by the Hittite King Suppiluliuma with whom he
concluded a treaty 1380 BCE, which we know as the
Suppiluliuma-Shattiwaza Treaty discovered in 1907 CE in
Hattusa near present-day Bogazkale (Boğazkale, formerly
Bogazköy) in north-central Turkey
4. Tablets- Tell-El-Amarna in Egypt
▪ The Hyksos were an Indo-Aryan dynasty. They had come to Egypt and settled
within its Delta region in about 1674-1547 BCE
▪ Excavations in El-Amarna in Egypt have yielded the fact that around the
14th-15th centuries BCE, kings and princes with Vedic-like names were ruling in
the region of modern-day Syria. Some of the names are Artamanya, Aryavirya,
Yashodatta, Suttarna and Dushratta.
▪ Thutmose IV had married a daughter of Artatma, the King of the Mitanni
▪ Amenhotep III married Tiy, daughter of Yuaa and Tuau.
▪ According to Akhnaton, Aton was both the male and female. He says to Aton,
"Father and Mother of all that You have made." This parallels with the Hindu
terms for the sun-god, Savita
or the sun and the sun's energy
(Purusa and Prakriti )
▪ The Hyksos were descendants of the Indian Danavas (of SInd region). They're
written of in Egyptian, Hittite, and Hellenic accounts under the names Danuna,
Danunites, Danaoi, Danaus, Danaids, Dene, Danai, and Danaian.
TUSHRATTA’S LETTER TO
AMENHOTEP III OF EGYPT
AMARNA FROM TELL
5. EAST ASIA
▪ Hinduism in Tibet began with the Bon
religion of Tonpa Shenrab who is
from Tag-gzig, Shangri-La and
▪ Like several other rishis such as
Risabha, Ravan and Sukracharya,
Tonya too meditated at Mount
▪ At age 82 he departed the world and
▪ Indian missionaries and monks worked with
Chinese spiritual leaders and together
preached the message of Moksha.
▪ Bodhidharma is well-known as the person
who increased the cultural relationships
between India and China. He is also credited
as the transmitter of Zen Buddhism to China
▪ Some Tamil Siddhars too had visited China to
discuss and spread spiritual knowledge.
Ex: The Siddhar saint Bogar, disciple of
Kalanginaathar, visited China. There is a legend
that Lao Tze is Bogar. He is a disciple of Agastya
Maharishi. Bogar has written the book “Bogar
7000”. Bogar 7000 contains 7000 songs, and it
contains the details about Siddha medicines.
▪ Buddhist beliefs and traditions (which share a common
Dharmic root with Hinduism) spread to Japan from
China via Korean peninsula in the 6th Century and
Hindu gods were adopted by Japanese.
EX: Japanese "Seven Gods of Fortune" include
Hindu deities lke Benzaitensama (Saraswati), Bishamon
(Vaiśravaṇa or Kubera), Daikokuten (Shiva), Kichjoten
Benzaiten is also famous due to the Chinese translations
of the Sutra of Golden Light
Ganesh is known as Kangi-ten and as Bināyaka-ten which
originates from the Sanskrit name Vināyaka
The Hindu god of death Yama is known as Enma.
Garuda, the mount (vahana) of Vishnu is known as the
Apsaras are known as Tennin.
Benzaiten shrine at
From left to right, Benzaiten,
Kangiten and Bishamonten in
Daishō-in Temple Complex,
Shivlinga in the Toganji
Temple at Nayoga, Japan.
8. SOUTH EAST ASIA
• This whole region has been known in Hindu scriptures as Suvarṇabhumi.
• Hinduism has been the dominant religion amongst several nations for a long time here
• The Indonesian dynasties like Srivijaya, Mataram, Shailendra, and
Majapahit patronized Hinduism.
• The Chola Dynasty was the link between both India and Indonesia and acted as
the exchange of cultures leading to closer ties between Indonesians and
• It is believed that Sage Agastya and Sage Markandeya brought Hinduism to
• Many Indians had migrated to Indonesia, some of them being Gujaratis.
EX: King Aji Saka came to Java in Indonesia in year 1 of the Śaka calender
EX: First Indian settlements in Java Island of Indonesia was established with the
coming of Prince Dhruvavijaya of Gujarat with 5,000 traders.
Some stories propose that a sage named Tritresta was the first to bring Gujarati
migrants with him to Java, hence some scholars equate him with Aji Saka.
Chola Dynasty and its
▪ The name Cambodia comes from the founder of the first Khmer Dynasty from India, who was Kambhoja.
▪ From him Cambodia is usually called by its natives as either 'Kambuja' or 'Kampuchea'.
▪ Angkor Wat is a temple complex in Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world by land area measuring
162.6 hectares. It was constructed as a personal mausoleum for the Khmer King Suryavarman II, in Yashodharapura
(Khmer) capital of Khmer empire and was dedicated to Vishnu in the early 12th century. It was converted into a
Buddhist temple towards the end of 12th century.
▪ An inscription from Anghor Vat runs thus: "The Brahman Agastya, born in the land of the Aryans, devoted to the
worship of Siva, having come by his psychic powers to the land of the Cambodians for the purpose of worshipping the
Siva-linga known as Bhadresvara, and having worshipped the god for a long time, attained to beatitude."
▪ In most Hindu scriptures, Burma is known as
Brahmadesh. Buddhist scriptures sometimes called it
▪ Burmese Indians which include Myanmar Tamils,
Bengalis, Odias make up Myanmar's population of
▪ The Burmese language adopted many words from
Sanskrit and Pali many of which relate to religion.
▪ The Burmese adaptation of the Ramayana is called
▪ The Hindu gods worshipped are Thagyamin (Indra),
Thuyathadi (Saraswati), Paramizwa (Shiva), Withano
▪ Nathlaung Kyaung temple in Bagan is an 11th century
Hindu temples dedicated to Vishnu built during the
reign of King Nyaung-u Sawrahan akaTaungthugyi.
Nathlaung Kyaung temple
Reclining Vishnu Vishnu
▪ In Hindu scriptures, Thailand is known as Shyamdesh.
▪ Thailand was under the territory of the
Khmer empire and Buddhism entered Thailand through it.
▪ Thailand has two ethnic Thai Brahmin communities - Brahm
Luang (Royal Brahmins) and Brahm Chao Baan (folk Brahmins).
They are Buddhist by religion, who still worship Hindu Gods.
Their main center is Devasthan built in 1784 by king Rama.
▪ The popular Thai epic Ramakien is based on the Buddhist
Dasaratha Jataka and is a Thai variant of the Hindu
epic Ramayana and the city Ayutthaya near Bangkok is named
▪ The Royal emblem of Thailand is Garuda, the vahana (vehicle)
▪ Hindu gods include Brahma (Phra phrom), Ganesh, Indra, Shiva,
Saraswati and Lakshmi (Nang Kwak) who is considered deity of
wealth, fortune and prosperity.
▪ Reliefs in 12th-century Prasat Sikhoraphum temple near Surin
depict a dancing Shiva, with smaller images of Parvati, Vishnu,
Brahma and Ganesha.
Prasat Sikhoraphum temple
▪ Indians, along with other ethnic groups such as Chinese, began arriving in Malaysia in the ancient and
▪ It is unclear when the first Indian voyages across the Bay of Bengal occurred. The growth of trade with
India brought coastal people in much of the Malay world into contact with Hinduism.
▪ Temples were built in the Indian style and local kings began referring to themselves as Raja and more
desirable aspects of Indian government were adopted.
▪ Subsequently, small Hindu Malay states started to appear in the coastal areas of Malay Peninsula.
EX: The Gangga Negara (2nd c), Langkasuka (2nd c), and Kedah (4th c). By 7th to 13th c these states came
under the control of Srivijaya empire, a great Hindu Malay kingdom centered in Palembang, Sumatra.
▪ Siddhas have traveled Malay and performed austerities and eventually went into Jeeva Samadhi.
EX: Jeganatha Swamigal, a disciple of Ramalinga Adigal whose Samadhi is located at Tapah, Perak.
Sannasi Andavar's samadhi is in Cheng, Malacca
Mauna Swamigal's samadhi is in the vicinity of Lord Saturn's temple at Batu Caves.
13. SPREAD OF BUDDHISM BEYOND INDIA
▪ After the Kalinga war, 261 BC, Asoka experienced remorse and turned to Buddhism.
▪ For the remainder of his long reign, he ruled according to Buddhist principles, and under his patronage
▪ As well as helping to establish Buddhism within India, he also dispatched ambassadors to the courts of
rulers in the Near East and Macedonia, south-east Asia.
▪ The record of these early missions is found in the stone inscriptions Ashoka left throughout his realm,
which provide some of the most reliable data on early Indian history.
▪ The ones to the West seem to have had little impact since evidences are found only in Greek kingdoms
Asokan rock edict 13 - 'The conquest by Dharma has been won here, on the borders, and even six hundred
yojanas (5,400–9,600 km) away, where the Greek king Antiochos rules, beyond there where the four kings
named Ptolemy, Antigonos, Magas and Alexander rule, likewise in the south among the Cholas, the
Pandyas and as far as Tamraparni (Sri Lanka).
Buddhist gravestones decorated with depictions of the Dharma wheel from the Ptolemaic period (2nd C
CE) have also been found in Alexandria where the Christian dogmatist, Clement of Alexandria recognized
Bactrian sramanas and Indian gymnosophists or their influence on Greek thought.
14. SRI LANKA
▪ Theravāda Buddhism
▪ According to the Buddhist chronicles, Buddhism was brought to Ceylon in 250 BC by a monk named Mahinda,
an envoy of the emperor Ashoka (his son) during the reign of Devanamapiya Tissa of Anuradhapura
(307–267 BCE). Mahinda and his fellow monks founded a monastic community at the Mahāvihāra (‘Great
Monastery’) in the capital, Anurādhapura.
▪ Around 80 BC, the Pali Canon was first written down, as a result of fears that the method of oral transmission
would not survive due to warfare and famine.
• In 5th c AD, Buddhaghosa collated and edited the early commentaries on
the canon and translated them into Pali.
• His classic work the Visuddhimagga or ‘Path of Purification' is a
compendium of doctrine and practice.
• During the reign of Kithsirimevan (301–328 CE), Sudatta, the sub king of
Kalinga and Hemamala brought the Tooth relic of Buddha to Sri Lanka
which was housed and promoted by the Abhayagiri tradition.
• The main architectural features of Sri Lankan Buddhism at this
time were the Thuparama (part
of the Mahāvihāra complex), MIrisavati, Ruvavalisaya or Mahastupa, Abh
ayagiri and the Jetavana.
▪ Due to absence of established trade routes for the mountainous region of Tibet, Buddhism entered
Tibet in 8th century.
▪ The form of Buddhism which flourished there is known variously as Tantra, Vajrayāna (‘The Vehicle
of the Thunderbolt’), Mantrayāna because of the frequent use it makes of magical formulas and
▪ The Tantras make use of mystical diagrams (maṇḍalas) and magic formulas (mantras) and are
written in a mysterious ‘twilight language’ (sandhyabhāṣā).
▪ Due to its willingness to embrace a variety of methods and techniques, Tantra came to be regarded
as a quick path or ‘short cut’ to Buddhahood which bestowed enlightenment ‘in this very body’
rather than after countless lifetimes of practice using the slower, more traditional, methods.
• The Tibetan Dalai Lamas are members of the Gelug-pa school. ‘Dalai’ is a Mongol word
meaning ‘ocean’ (of wisdom), a title conferred by the Mongol ruler Altan Khan in the 16th century.
• Tibet was ruled by a series of Dalai Lamas down to modern times, when the present
incumbent—the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.
• Many great Buddhist monasteries, with their priceless manuscripts and works of art,
have been destroyed, as a result of Chinese invasion in 1950 although some limited rebuilding of
religious sites has taken place from time to time.
• Buddhism spread north from India into Central Asia and reached
China through silk route time of the later Han Dynasty (206 BC–AD
• Buddhism seemed in conflict with Confucian (550–470 BC) values
since it regarded the family as the foundation of society and the
Buddhist invited to leave their families and renounce the world.
• On the other hand, Buddhism shared certain similarities with another
Chinese philosophy, Taoism, a form of nature mysticism founded by
the legendary sage Laozi (b. 604 BC).
• The goal of Taoism is to live in harmony with nature by learning to
balance the complementary forces of Yin and Yang which are
believed to pervade the universe.
• In certain areas, Buddhism and Taoism overlapped, and Buddhist
meditation seemed geared to the same goal of inner stillness and
‘actionless action’ (wu-wei) sought by the Taoist sage.
• A school of Chinese Buddhism known as Chan (the ancestor of
Japanese Zen), was born from this interaction.
• A number of Chinese monks made pilgrimages to India in search of
manuscripts, notably Faxian (399–413), Xuanzang (630–644) and
▪ Buddhism arrived in Japan in the 6th century by way of Korea but drew much of its
inspiration from mainland China.
▪ The Heian period (794–1185) saw the development of schools such as the eclectic
Tendai and the esoteric Shingon, both introduced from China.
▪ The Pure Land school, a distinctive form of Japanese Buddhism based on devotion to
the Buddha Amida also began to develop around this time and reached its peak in
the Kamakura period (1185–1333).
▪ Later Nichiren (1222–82) founded a new religious movement which made the Lotus
Sūtra the centre of cultic practice rather than the Buddha Amida. Instead of reciting
the mantra Namu Amida Butsu or ‘Homage to the Buddha Amida’ to ensure rebirth
in Amida's paradise, Nichiren's followers recited the mantra Namu myōhō renge
kyō meaning ‘Honour to the Lotus Sūtra of the True Dharma’. It was felt that by
focusing on these words with faith and devotion, all one's goals ,material and
spiritual could be attained.
▪ The third most important school of Japanese Buddhism is Zen, which came to Japan
from China (where it was known as Chan) and Korea early in the 13th century. The
word ‘Zen’ derives from the Sanskrit dhyāna (Pali: jhāna) meaning ‘trance'. Zen
essentially holds that enlightenment occurs in a moment of intuitive awakening that
is beyond logical comprehension.
18. SOUTH EAST ASIA
▪ Theravāda Buddhism
▪ According to Burmese chronicles, Buddhaghosa visited Burma and
established a tradition of Pali scholarship.
▪ Pali historical chronicles state that Asoka sent two bhikkhus, Sona and
Uttara, to Suvarnabhumi ("The Golden Land") around 228 BCE to spread
▪ An Andhra Ikshvaku inscription from about the 3rd century CE refers to the
conversion of the Kiratas (Cilatas) to Buddhism. These may have been the
Mon-Khmer speaking peoples of ancient Arakan and Lower Burma (the
Pyu states and Mon kingdoms).
▪ Various schools of Buddhism flourished until King Anawrahta (1044–77 AD)
unified the country by conquering the southern part and gave his allegiance
to the Theravāda,
▪ In the17th c, Anawrahta's capital, Pagan, was sacked by the Mongols in 1287
and the city with its many thousand pagodas and temples was abandoned.
▪ Despite this setback Buddhism recovered and has flourished, and some 89%
of the population is now Theravāda Buddhist.
Bawbawgyi pagoda of Pyu
▪ Theravāda Buddhism
▪ Buddhism is believed to have come to
Thailand as early as 250 BC through Asoka
▪ Theravāda had long been established in parts
of the Mon kingdom of Haripuñjaya and the
kingdom of Dvāravatī, and in the 11th century
missions were sent from Burma into the region.
▪ The Thai people, who arrived in the region in
the 13th century having been displaced from
China by the Mongols, found the Theravāda
tradition more congenial than the elaborate
Mahāyāna forms of Buddhism they had been
familiar with in the north.
▪ The Theravāda received royal patronage and
today almost 95 per cent of the population of
Thailand is Buddhist.
Chedi stupa possibly
dating to the time of
the Ashokan missions
Prang Sam Yot, a Khmer