Friday, October 16, 2009

Theravada Buddhism

Theravada Buddhism shows a continuous and ongoing influence in South East Asia from very early times. I believe that people of Burma (Myanmar) were the main SEA influence in the spread of Theravada Buddhism, shared by Sinhalese and others. Theravada was not, and is not the only Buddhism in the area, just as Buddhism has never been the only religion in the region.

Buddhists of what we now call Sri Lanka were not the only Buddhists in contact with the peoples of what we now call Myanmar; though Buddhist teachings an revivals have flowed both ways between these two peoples. One example of an influence on Myanmar Buddhism which was nor Ceylonese may be found in the career of Atisa(AD 982-1054) after the advent of Islam. Atisa probably spent a dozen years in southern Burma before going to Tibet to reform tantric tradition there.

Theravada Buddhism stayed strong through the Mongo evasions and the destruction of Pagan by them at the end of the 13th century. In the 15th century the Mon order Dhammaceti restored the Theravada order.

I hope to write more in this vein soon.

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