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25 January 2011

Early Buddhist Transmission and Trade Networks: Mobility and Exchange within and beyond the Northwestern Borderlands of South Asia


Jason Neelis. Early Buddhist Transmission and Trade Networks: Mobility
and Exchange within and beyond the Northwestern Borderlands of South
Asia. Dynamics in the History of Religion, vol. 2. Leiden; Boston,
Brill: 2011. ISSN 1878-8106; ISBN 978 90 04 18159 5

Description: This exploration of early paths for Buddhist transmission
within and beyond South Asia retraces the footsteps of monks, merchants,
and other agents of cross-cultural exchange. A reassessment of literary,
epigraphic, and archaeological sources reveals hisorical contexts for
the growth of the Buddhist sagha from approximately the 5th century BCE
to the end of the first millennium CE. Patterns of dynamic Buddhist
mobility were closely linked to transregional trade networks extending
to the northwestern borderlands and joined to Central Asian silk routes
by capillary routes through transit zones in the upper Indus and Tarim
Basin. By examining material conditions for Buddhist establishments at
nodes along these routes, this book challenges models of gradual
diffusion and develops alternative explanations for successful Buddhist

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction: Road Map for Travelers
Models for the Movement of Buddhism
Merit, Merchants, and the Buddhist Sagha
Sources and Methods for the study of Buddhist Transmission
Outline of Destinations

Chapter 2: Historical Contexts for the Emergence and Transmission of
Buddhism within South Asia
Initial Phases of the Establishment of Early Indian Buddhist
Legacy of the Mauryans: Aśoka as Dharmarāja
Migrations, Material Exchanges, and Cross-Cultural Transmission in
Northwestern Contact Zones
Saka Migrants and Mediators between Central Asia and South Asia
Dynamics of Mobility during the Kuāa Period
Shifting Networks of Political Power and Institutional Patronage during
the Gupta Period
Cross-Cultural Transmission between South Asia and Central Asia, ca.
500-100 CE

Chapter 3: Trade Networks in Ancient South Asia
Northern Route (Uttarāpatha)
Southern Route (Dakiāpatha)
Seaports and Maritime Routes across the Indian Ocean

Chapter 4: Old Roads in the Northwestern Borderlands
Environmental Conditions for Buddhist Transmission in Gandhāra
Gandhāran Material and Literary Cultures
Gandhāran Nodes and Networks
Routes of Buddhist Missionaries and Pilgrims to and from Gandhāra
Domestication of Gandharan Buddhism

Chapter 5: Capillary Routes of the Upper Indus
Geography, Economy, and Capillary Routes in a High Altitude
Graffiti, Petroglyphs, and Pilgrims
Enigma of an Absence of Archaeological Evidence and Manifestations
of Buddhist Presence

Chapter 6: Long-Distance Transmission to Central Asian Silk Routes and
Silk Routes of Eastern Central Asia
Long-distance Transmission Reconsidered

Chapter 7: Conclusions: Alternative Paths and Paradigms of Buddhist
Catalysts for the Formation and Expansion of the Buddhist Sagha
Changing Paradigms for Buddhist Transmission within and beyond South

Jason Neelis,
Assistant Professor,
Department of Religion and Culture,
Wilfrid Laurier University,
Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L 3C5
email: ]

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