Asian art

Spread of Buddhism

spread of buddhism

View our Buddha Statues in our gallery

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

Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

275 euro
Very early Jain statue with inscriptions

Very early Jain statue with inscriptions

600 euro
Bronze Nepali Medicine Buddha statue

Bronze Nepali Medicine Buddha statue

175 euro
Very special bronze Burmese Buddha statue

Very special bronze Burmese Buddha statue

47,500 euro
Old bronze Nepali Ganesha statue

Old bronze Nepali Ganesha statue

350 euro
Old wooden Burmese Mandalay Buddha

Old wooden Burmese Mandalay Buddha

800 euro
Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

500 euro
Old bronze Nepali Green Tara

Old bronze Nepali Green Tara

1,350 euro
Special antique marble Jain statue

Special antique marble Jain statue

2,750 euro
Old red Burmese offering vessel

Old red Burmese offering vessel

750 euro
Special antique bronze Shan Buddha statue

Special antique bronze Shan Buddha statue

7,500 euro
Old marble Hanuman statue

Old marble Hanuman statue

650 euro
Old bronze Burmese Buddha statue

Old bronze Burmese Buddha statue

500 euro
Antique wooden Burmese Mandalay Buddha statue

Antique wooden Burmese Mandalay Buddha statue

1,850 euro
Old bronze Manjushri statue

Old bronze Manjushri statue

550 euro
Old bronze nepali Ganesha statue

Old bronze nepali Ganesha statue

250 euro
Old bronze Nepali Lokeshwor statue

Old bronze Nepali Lokeshwor statue

1,750 euro
Old bronze Parvati statue

Old bronze Parvati statue

900 euro
Old bronze Nepali White Tara statue

Old bronze Nepali White Tara statue

325 euro
Antique marble Ganesha statue

Antique marble Ganesha statue

2,850 euro
Old marble Burmese Buddha statue

Old marble Burmese Buddha statue

900 euro
Old Burmese Buddha statue

Old Burmese Buddha statue

1,600 euro
Pair of old marble lion statues

Pair of old marble lion statues

700 euro
Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

600 euro
Special antique Ivory Japanese Zushi shrine

Special antique Ivory Japanese Zushi shrine

14,500 euro
Antique bronze Thai Sukhothai Buddha statue

Antique bronze Thai Sukhothai Buddha statue

1,600 euro
Antique ivory Japanese figure

Antique ivory Japanese figure

1,500 euro
Old wooden Burmese Monk statue

Old wooden Burmese Monk statue

300 euro
Old wooden Burmese Throne

Old wooden Burmese Throne

1,250 euro
Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

600 euro
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