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Kingship and Buddhism in central Asia

Posted on:1998-01-29Degree:Ph.DType:Thesis
University:Harvard UniversityCandidate:Walter, Mariko NambaFull Text:PDF
This thesis explores the relationship between kingship and Buddhism in various central Asian oasis states in Chinese Turkistan before and around the tenth century C.E. I approach the topic in relation to the particular historical background of each major oasis state, Shan-shan, Khotan, Kucha, and the nomadic Turkic state. These kingdoms were small kingdoms, in comparison with the surrounding ancient civilizations such as Persia, Greece, Rome, India, and China; however, they had their own history as relatively stable kingdoms under single or a few dynasties, despite the constant intrusion and invasions from the above dominant empires. The populations of these oasis states were ethnically and linguistically different from each other, Iranian, Tokharian (Indo-European), and Turkic. Buddhism reached the region around the first century C.E. as Buddhist monks from Kashmir, Gandhara and other parts of India as well as from western Central Asia were arriving to China via these oasis states around the Taklamakan desert. Rulers played a major role in accepting and establishing Buddhism in these oasis kingdoms. Some of the questions discussed in my thesis are: (1) Questions regarding "Church and state" or "samgha and kingship". (2) The Central Asian interpretation of Buddhist kingship. (3) The correlation between the type of Buddhism and type of kingship.; The early history based on the Chinese dynastic histories and indigenous evidence in various languages is surveyed in order to establish the chronology of kings, and to delineate the nature of the Buddhism and kingship in each of the oasis kingdoms. These oasis states share their early history to some extent, although they differ in the kind of Buddhism they adopted and developed. Based on the limited historical data available, an attempt is made to discuss the relationship between the kingship and Buddhism in the oasis kingdoms in Central Asia with comparison to the Buddhist kingship of East and South Asia.
Keywords/Search Tags:Kingship, Buddhism, Central, Asia, Oasis
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