[Buddha-l] Spread of Buddhism

Erik Hoogcarspel jehms at xs4all.nl
Fri May 27 14:22:31 MDT 2005

Michel Clasquin schreef:

> Bradley Clough wrote:
>> A student asked me a question and I did not have a good answer to it: 
>> Why were there no Buddhist missionary endeavors via trade routes 
>> across the Arabian Sea to Africa (or if there were any such attempts, 
>> why didn't they succeed)?
> Well, first of all, the whole idea that there ever were conscious 
> "missionary" efforts in Buddhism before the 20th century was rather 
> effectively refuted by Jonathan Walters in his PhD thesis "Rethinking 
> Buddhist Mission" (U Chicago 1992). The man set my own doctoral work 
> back by 2 years, but let bygones be bygones ... Buddhist expansion 
> happened, but there was no real sense of "mission" behind it.
> (Anybody know what happened to Walters?)
> In my own thesis I explored possible points of contact between 
> Buddhism and African religion. Now that the doctorate is safely behind 
> my name (Hi, Lance) I can admit that it was, uhh, one of the less 
> successful chapters. You really have to clutch at straws to find a 
> possible point of entry, philosophically speaking, for Buddhist ideas 
> into African society. They are that different. Now that did not stop 
> Buddhism from moving into other areas with very different traditions 
> of their own, but patronage, either royal (eg Tibet, Japan) or by a 
> prosperous trading class (China) had a lot to do with that. No 
> patronage, no spread of Buddhism.
> There *were* a few Buddhists in Africa, well, in Alexandria, anyway, 
> which as we all know was "in Africa but not of it". Both Origen and 
> Clement of Alexandria briefly mentioned them, as I recall.
I think this had something to do with trade routes. Buddhism went where 
people were and epople were where ther was something to buy and to 
sell.  I guess (correct me if I'm wrong) that Africa was mainly 
agricultural at the time.



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