Asian art

Spread of Buddhism

spread of buddhism

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A number of the world’s great religions were born during the sixth and fifth centuries BCE.Zarathustra founded Zoroastrianism in Iran;Laozi, the founder of Daoism, and Confuciuslived in China; Mahavira, the great teacher of the Jain religion, was one of the Buddha’scontemporaries in India. Some consider the fifth century BCE more likely than the sixth for theBuddha’s birth, partly because the earlier date creates a hiatus between his teachings and subsequent events.

pha that luang stupa laos

Legend has it that during the Mauryan period(324-187 BCE), with the support of King Ashoka(c. 271-231 BCE), the new philosophy spread throughout India and beyond – to Sri Lanka,Myanmar, and the region to the west. Ashokaexpounded his conversion (following a period of war) throughout his extensive Indian empire in the form of edicts and beneficent acts. His edicts have been found from Afghanistan in the north to Karnataka in the south and Orissa in the east. In the millennia to follow, Ashoka, who styled himself a cakravartin (one who turns the wheel of the law in a secular sense), served as the model for subsequent Buddhist rulers.

Following the Buddha’s death, five hundred of his followers met in a great council in Rajgriha(the first of six) to codify sutras (texts) and vinaya (rules) for the sangha (monastic community). In the early Buddhist schools, his followers sought personal release from suffering, or the ideal of the arhat (worthy one), a being who has attained released from the cycle of rebirth. Over time, sectarian differences arose and separate schools developed. The term Hinayana Buddhism was devised by the later Mahayana Buddhists to describe the early schools of Buddhism; another term associated with the Early schools is Theravada, the form of Buddhism practiced in Southeast Asia today. The first is generally considered derogatory (it means “lesser vehicle”), and the second refers to the single extant school of Buddhism that follows the Pali canon. A more appropriate term than Hinayana might be the Early Buddhist Schools, or nikayas.

seated buddha

We know little of the early Buddhist Pali canon prior to the first century BCE, so it is difficult to say when sectarian differences arose. By the second century CE, so called Mahayana literaturehad developed, a more inclusive doctrine that suggested a path to enlightened for a broader segment of society beyond monastic community. One of its primary tenets relates to thebodhisattva, a being who could attain nirvana but who remains in this world to help all sentient beings. (One might distinguish two types of Boddhisattvas, humans who have embarked on the path, and celestial bodhdhisattvas, who have lived thousands of years before reaching the exalted state). This belief resulted in an expansion of the Buddhist pantheon, with a multitude ofBoddhisattas populating the myriad Buddha worlds. Texts also multiplied, many of which the Early Buddhist schools did not accept as the word of the Buddha, since they were written after his passing. A scholarly community, the Mahayana monks wrote extensive commentaries explaining these texts.

Traditionally, scholarship has tended to identify three schools ofBuddhism, the hinayana, theMahayana, and the tantric school (alternately called esoteric,Vajrayana or Mantrayana Buddhism). The earliest tantric texts were written by the sixth century CE. More closely related toMahayana than to Early Buddhism, tantric practiced differed my incorporating means by which one could attain enlightenmentquickly. This classification of three schools is imperfect, as there is overlap and shared belief among them. Certainly during the early period, practitioners of Early,Mahayana and tantric Buddhismcoexisted in monasteries.

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Furthermore, none of these so called schools of Buddhism has remained static, each adapting, growing, and continuing to contribute to the wealth of Buddhist literature and practice. Recent scholarship has begun to move away from this tripartite classification of Buddhism. The fact that all monks were ordained into one or another of the Early Buddhist schools, or nikayas (a practice still followed in Tibet), and then after their ordination may have followed practices that relied onMahayana sutras or Vajrayana tantras, indicates a less rigid categorization than scholars previously believed.

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Our collections of Buddha statues and arts

Antique Burmese Monk statue

Antique Burmese Monk statue

150 euro
Old Nepali bronze Buddha

Old Nepali bronze Buddha

275 euro
Antique Ivory Guan Yin statue

Antique Ivory Guan Yin statue

2000 euro
Antique wooden Burmese Nat statue

Antique wooden Burmese Nat statue

750 euro
Antique wooden Shan Buddha statue

Antique wooden Shan Buddha statue

150 euro
Antique wooden Burmese Shan Buddha statue

Antique wooden Burmese Shan Buddha statue

750 euro
Old bronze nepali Buddha statue

Old bronze nepali Buddha statue

275 euro
Large sandstone Buddha statue

Large sandstone Buddha statue

9500 euro
Antique bronze Thai Buddha statue

Antique bronze Thai Buddha statue

1750 euro
Old Nepali crowned Buddha statue

Old Nepali crowned Buddha statue

550 euro
Antique wooden Burmese Shan Buddha statue

Antique wooden Burmese Shan Buddha statue

600 euro
Old large marble Buddha statue

Old large marble Buddha statue

4250 euro
Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

275 euro
Antique Burmese Buddha statue

Antique Burmese Buddha statue

1950 euro
Antique wooden Mandalay Buddha

Antique wooden Mandalay Buddha

875 euro
12th century Pagan Votive Tablet

12th century Pagan Votive Tablet

300 euro
Antique wooden Mandalay Buddha statue

Antique wooden Mandalay Buddha statue

4950 euro
Antique wooden Burmese Buddha statue

Antique wooden Burmese Buddha statue

325 euro
Antique wooden Laotian Buddha statue

Antique wooden Laotian Buddha statue

1950 euro
Very special bronze Burmese Buddha statue

Very special bronze Burmese Buddha statue

Nepali bronze Buddha statue

Nepali bronze Buddha statue

200 euro
Antike Thai Rattanakosin Buddha statue

Antike Thai Rattanakosin Buddha statue

1350 euro
Antique wooden Thai Buddha statue

Antique wooden Thai Buddha statue

1250 euro
High quality Nepali bronze Buddha statue

High quality Nepali bronze Buddha statue

1600 euro
Antique wooden Thai Buddha statue

Antique wooden Thai Buddha statue

225 euro
Old Burmese bronze Buddha statue

Old Burmese bronze Buddha statue

2900 euro
Large bronze Avalokiteshvara statue

Large bronze Avalokiteshvara statue

6500 euro
Newly made Nepali Maitreya Buddha statue

Newly made Nepali Maitreya Buddha statue

750 euro
Antique wooden Laotian Buddha

Antique wooden Laotian Buddha

1250 euro
Antique bronze Mandalay Buddha statue

Antique bronze Mandalay Buddha statue

1750 euro
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