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Archaeologies of Buddhist propagation in ancient India: ‘ritual’ and ‘practical’ models of religious change

Shaw, J; (2013) Archaeologies of Buddhist propagation in ancient India: ‘ritual’ and ‘practical’ models of religious change. World Archaeology , 45 (1) 83 - 108. 10.1080/00438243.2013.778132. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper assesses the degree to which current ‘ritual’ and ‘practical’ models of religious change fit with the available archaeological evidence for the spread of Buddhism in India during between the third and first centuries BC. The key question is how Buddhist monastic communities integrated themselves within the social, religious and economic fabric of the areas in which they arrived, and how they generated sufficient patronage networks for monastic Buddhism to grow into the powerful pan-Indian and subsequently pan-Asian institution that it became. While it is widely recognized that in time Indian monasteries came to provide a range of missionary functions including agrarian, medical, trading and banking facilities, the received understanding based on canonical scholarship and inadequate dialogue between textual and archaeological scholarship is that these were ‘late’ developments that reflected the deterioration of ‘true’ Buddhist values. By contrast, the results of the author's own landscape-based project in central India suggest that a ‘domesticated’ and socially integrated form of Buddhist monasticism was already in place in central India by the late centuries BC, thus fitting closely with practical models of religious change more commonly associated with the later spread of Islam and Christianity.

Type: Article
Title: Archaeologies of Buddhist propagation in ancient India: ‘ritual’ and ‘practical’ models of religious change
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/00438243.2013.778132
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00438243.2013.778132
Additional information: © 2013 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The moral rights of the named author(s) have been asserted.
Keywords: Buddhism; Ancient India; Practical models of religious change; Pan Indian v. ‘local’ religion; stupas; relic cult; intervisibility; monasticism; water-management; ritual landscapes
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1433755
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