Buddhism in India 4th–8th centuries AD


Map Code: Ax01560

By the 4th century CE, at the time of the Gupta Empire (4th–6th century), Mahayana Buddhism flourished in India. Mahayana Buddhism teaches that it is possible to attain enlightenment in a single lifetime and now dominates the cultures of Central and East Asia. In Magadha, Tantric Buddhism was established from c. 500 CE. Although Tantric Buddhism had many elements of Mahayana Buddhism, it was more esoteric and included meditation, dance, singing, and the ingestion of taboo substances, such as meat. In the 7th century a Chinese scholar and monk, Xuan-Zang made a 17-year-long pilgrimage through India, visiting the Buddha’s sacred sites, travelling down the Ganges to its eastern reaches and to Magadha where there were Buddhist universities and monasteries. Here he learned Sanskrit and translated the sacred texts into Chinese. His journey to India, and his subsequent dissemination of Buddhist teachings, were influential in the Tang dynasty’s enthusiastic embrace of Buddhism.

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