Buddhism – UPSC GS1

Discuss the factors that helped Buddhism to travel from India to other countries in the East and South. Do you think this cultural link between India and these countries has helped India in any way? Examine. (200 Words)

  1. Patronage by Rulers. Ajatshatru, Ashok and Kanishka of India and Atlai Khan of Mongolia were kings who adopted Buddhism. It not only thrived under their patronage but some of them also sent missions to different countries. Ashok’s children – Mahindra and Sangamitra travelled to Sri Lanka and introduced Buddhism there.
  2. Trade Routes – People to people contacts along trade routes and the famous Silk Road played a role in the adoption of Buddhism in Central Asia and its spread.
  3. Missionary Activity. Following from the traditions of Buddha, who gave sermons and travelled to neighbouring kingdoms, many Buddhist monks introduced Buddhism to new places. Bodhi dharma is regarded to have introduced Buddhism to China.
India has not been able to fully leverage the potential of its historical heritage.
  1. Languishing landmarks. Most of the Buddhist sites are in poor regions. Our inability to develop these sites to international standards are an impediment to tourism which would have created greater people to people contacts and generated greater soft-power projection for India. Government plans to develop a Buddhist Tourism Circuit may correct this.
  2. Buddhism produced great centres of learning which saw foreign travellers like Huen Tsang come to India in search of knowledge. MoUs with many Buddhist countries like Sri Lanka and Japan over the Nalanda University project have been penned. However, slow pace and controversies are a matter of concern.
  3. China has been taking leadership over the Buddhist world, which includes a lot of countries in East and SE Asia. It held the first World Buddhist Forum in 2006 at Hangzhou. India has been slow to catch up and assume its traditional role of being a luminary of the Buddhist world.
Buddhism is India’s historical, spiritual and cultural heritage and a strong tool in our arsenal to project soft power to forge stronger bonds with many countries in East and SE Asia. It will complement and strengthen our Economic and Strategic cooperation with these countries. It must be utilised fully and to its truest potential.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top