Papers on the History of Buddhism

The Evolution of Buddhist Thought

This paper explores the evolution of Buddhist thought in relation to the social and philosophical contexts of India. Buddhist philosophy evolved for around 1500 years in India with developments in logic, epistemology, phenomenology, cognitive theories, etc. Some of these works are master pieces of structured philosophy. An evaluation of the history of Buddhist thought and its exchanges with other schools also reveals an overall picture of the evolution of Indian thought. India did not assume a monolithic religious, social and philosophical identity and showed great tolerance, openness and acceptance to revolutionary and revisionist ideas. This openness of Indian social fabric in those days has greatly helped not only the evolution of Buddhist thought, but various other streams of thought and lead to an all rounded development during that era. The golden era of Buddhism in India also happened to be the golden era of Indian civilization, science and technology as a whole.

History of Mahayana in South India

South India had a major role in the genesis and development of Mahayana Buddhism. This paper looks into some of the contributions by the Buddhist scholars of South India in the development of Mahayana movement. It also tries to shed light into the widespread presence of Mahayana in South India from 2nd-9th century CE by bringing evidences from various Buddhist scriptures and other sources. Buddhism was widespread in South India with many important Buddhist centers like Kanchi, Amaravathi, Vanchi and Srimulavasam. A great scholastic culture flourished in the South, which gave rise to many acclaimed Panditas (scholars) of Buddhism. This includes the progenitor of Mahayana as a movement, the great Acharya Nagarjuna himself. The different Mahayana philosophical streams like Prāsangika and Svātantrika which these Panditas formulated thrives even now in many Asian countries. South India also remained an important hub for the spread of Buddhism to many other countries.