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Spread and Influence of Hinduism and Buddhism in Asia

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Item Code: HAI284
Author: Sengaku Mayeda and Masahiro Shimoda
Publisher: Originals, Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2010
ISBN: 9788184540987
Pages: 160
Other Details 9.00 X 6.00 inch
Weight 410 gm
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Book Description
Vedic Dharma (later known as Hinduism) and Buddhism have been prominent among the oldest cultural manifestations of human intuitive, reflective and creative consciousness. Though originated in Indian sub-continent they spread and influenced all over Asia in ancient times through sea and land routes. Though earliest records of this phenomenon are not available whatever scanty information we have at present is sufficient to evince that its influence has been deep, pervasive and beneficent. There is still scope for further researches in the fields of archeology, ancient literary and philosophical writings, art forms, folk tales and lore of elderly people to go to the roots. Regarding South-East Asia Professor R.C. Majumdar in a small book. "Indian Culture in South-East Asia" remarked, "It is unfortunate that the Government, the universities and the people of free India take hardly any interest in what may justly be described as one of the most glorious episodes in the history of Indian culture, abundant traces of which still remain in remote widely scattered regions all over South Asia." (Preface, page v) Whatever he has opined about South-East Asia holds good about whole of Asia. In this regard the present work is an important contribution. The initiative taken by the Committee for Japan-India Academic Exchange to organize a symposium on the theme "Spread and Influence of Hinduism and Buddhism in Asia" and to bring out its proceedings are welcome steps. Credit for this goes to Professor Chie Nakane and Professor Sengaku Mayeda. It is hoped that the Indian side will also take a similar initiative.

The mutual relations between India and Japan have been age- old and time-honoured. In recent times they have developed very significantly along with exchanges in the fields of science and technology. Exchanges in material goods are no doubt important but they are ephemeral whereas cultural exchanges are lasting and deep. Japanese scholars have done appreciable job in renewing cultural contacts. The role of Japan Foundation and the Embassy of Japan in India needs a special mention.

In 21 century a new conception of Asia is emerging and in this respect India and Japan have to play a crucial role. Need is to transcend "western peoples' orientalist perspective of Asia". In this direction Professor Noburu Karashima's edited book entitled "Introducing India" is significant. The contributions of Late Professor Hajime Nakamura are highly important. In India Professor Lokesh Chandra and Professor K. Sankaranarayana have done useful work and they are still active. I wish both sides take greater interest for mutual enrichment and universal well being.

The Indian history of thought and religions opens up with those of the Rgveda which is said to have been compiled between 1500 BCE and 1000 BCE; the so-called Brahmanism flourished until the 5th century BCE and at that time a huge amount of Vedic literature was compiled. In the 5th century BCE Mahavira and Gautama Buddha founded Jainism and Buddhism respectively. Thereafter, Buddhism expanded its sphere of influence to South and North beyond the border of India at the time of Emperor Asoka and was migrated into China in the 1st century CE via the Silk Road and further into Japan officially through Korea in the year 538 (or, 552).

Thus the official introduction of Buddhism into Japan took place in the 6th century CE, about 1000 years after the birth of Buddhism in India. In the 6th century CE, the Gupta Dynasty (320-540), which is said to be the golden age of classical culture of India, was coming to an end shortly and the so-called 6 systems of Indian philosophy, Buddhism and Jainism had established their own philosophical systems in India,

In the 6th century CE, Japanese people believed in so many gods called kami, respecting awe-inspiring objects as gods or kami, for example, the special kind of natural objects such as water, sun, wind, moon, thunder, rocks and huge trees as well such special kind of animals as serpents and foxes. They regarded those objects and animals as gods or as gods' messengers. In the term of comparative religion, philosophy and theology, such type of beliefs, which are similar to those which are seen in the Rgveda, is sometimes called animism or pantheism. They had no definite theoretical systems and their belief had no definite denomination at the time of official introduction of Buddhism. It was named "Shinto" or "way of gods or kamis" i.e. "Shintoism." only after Japanese people began to compare their beliefs with Buddhism, a foreign religion.

Before the introduction of Buddhism, in the 5th century Confucianism was migrated into Japan in such religious situations. However, it could not penetrate into Japanese mind for it was primarily a normative thought with which how to govern the state. On the other hand, Taoism was also introduced into Japan along with Buddhism in the 6th century but wane before long for it did not come with its scriptures, teachers and temples.

In such religious situation of Japan, Buddhism was transmitted along with Buddhist sutras, Buddha images, temples, highly advanced thought and culture. In the beginning the Buddha was regarded as foreign god and Buddhism was accepted as a kind of magic. Although Buddhism started as a kind of magic, it was gradually more and more deeply and systematically understood and developed into Japanese Buddhism. It was Prince Shotoku (574- 622) who laid the foundation for the prosperity of Buddhism in Japan which finally came to form an influential Japanese religion and thought.

It is indeed true that the influence of Buddhism over Japanese culture, literature, thought, religion, mental attitudes, daily life. customs and the like has been so deep and wide that we can hardly talk about things Japanese without referring to Buddhism. However, most Japanese seem to feel themselves indebted far more to China than to Korea or India for Buddhism.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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