Abstracts of papers presented at the Buddhism in the Mekong region: It's history and development conference
International Conference on
BUDDHISM IN THE MEKONG REGION:
ITS HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT
13th 14th November, 2015
ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS
Presented at the Conference
Vietnam Buddhist Research Institute, HCM City
University of Social Sciences and Humanities, HCM City
National Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS), Vietnam
International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), India
Liu Tzu Temple, China
Buddhism Today Foundation, Vietnam
HISTORY AND BILATERAL RELATION
Ashoke Barua - Buddhism in the Mekong region: History and development...........................................................................................
Chandan Kumar - Ganga to Mekong river, development and transformation of Buddhism
Ranjana Mishra - Theravada Buddhism rose like phoenix in Mekong delta
W.M Dhanapala - A sociological study on the reciprocal religious relationship between Myanmar and Sri Lanka in the 11th and 12th centuries
Dilbhadra Maharjan - Bilateral relations and exchange between Japan and the countries of the Mekong region
Dr. Rana Purushottam Kumar Singh- Mekong-Ganga co-operation: A tool for cultural ties between India and Vietnam
Prof. Siddharth Singh - Mekong-Ganga cooperation and Indian prime minister Modi’s Buddhist diplomacy: Perspectives and prospects
Prof. S.R.Bhatt - Indian paradigm for new world order
Ven. Dr. Thich Nhat Tu – Religious diversity and harmony for world peace
Dr. R.M Rathnasiri - Fostering the Buddhist heritage in the Mekong region through the acculturation of fundamental tenets of Buddhism
Kazal Barua - Mekong river: A bridge of culture heritage and religion among the surrounding Buddhist countries
Dr. Leena Seneheweera - Impact of artistic value and aesthetic sense on developing Buddhism in the Mekong region: Through sculptures of Phat tich pagoda in Vietnam
Dr. Arvind Kumar Singh - Origin and development of Cham culture of Vietnam: A historical study
Dr. Sushma Trivedi - Exploring Vietnam’s engagement with the silk route: A study of acculturation through art forms and imagery in Buddhist context
Ven Sritantra - Buddha-Yoga-Siva hybridity among the old Khmer and Siamese
Dr. Thiri Nyunt - The Buddhist heritage of Myanmar: Bagan treasured as heart of Myanmar
Prof. K.T.S. Sarao - Brāhmaṇical-Hindu and animistic practices in modern Cambodian Buddhism
ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS AND RESPONSE
Prof. Padmasiri de Silva - The teaching of environmental ethics & traditional environmental knowledge (TEK) through asian-buddhist culture stories
Khanh Tran & Huyen Tran- Environmental crises on the river of Buddhism
Dr. M.P.M. Peiris - Buddhist response on environmental degradation in the Mekong region
Dr. Anand Singh - Buddhist response to environmental crisis in Mekong region: Methods, regulations & pragmatism
Phyu Mar Lwin - Buddhist response to the issue of overfishing in the Mekong river
Yuande Shih - Damming on the Mekong river in the guise of developments: Buddhist response
Dr. Peter Daniels - Buddhism as a vehicle for the sustainable management of the Mekong region: Exploration of essential notions
Ms. Kaushalya Karu nasagara - The impact of Buddhist teachings to build an ecofriendly atmosphere in the Mekong region
M.G.K.D Ranathunga - Buddhism in the Mekong region: Environmental crises and response
Jacob Waiswa Buganga - Climate change, migrations, conflicts and sustainable development
Ven. Dr. Thich Tam Duc – From Paṭiccasamuppāda to environmental protection
My Nguyen - Implementing Buddhism for solutions to the world’s environmental problems and to build a progressive, social justice, sustainable and low carbon development
MODERNISATION AND GLOBALISATION
Deva Priya Barua - Buddhism in the Mekong region: Modernization and globalization
Prof. Subarna L Bajracharya - Buddhism in modernism
Dr. Mukesh Kumar Verma - Tracing Buddhist response in Mekong region (Vietnam) to modernization and globalization
Dr. Deepmala Mishra - Buddhist perspective on globalization in the Mekong delta
Dr. Bir Pal Singh - Indigenous people, human rights and relevance of Buddhism in the era of globalization: Issues, challenges and the way forward
Bakaki Andrew – The role of the Mekong Buddhism in leadership for social change in the Mekong region
Bharti – Role of tourism in promotion of Greater Mekong subregion
Prof. Lewis Lancaster - The “great circle” of Buddhism
Prof. Lewis Lancaster - Atlas of maritime Buddhism an interim report
Margaret Meloni – Maritime trade in Southeast Asia
Thuy Loan Nguyen - The Kingdom of Funan
Ven. Thich Hang Dat - The development of early Buddhism in red river delta basin- jiaozhi and southern china the case of a sogdian-jiaozhi Buddhist monk Kang Senghui
José A. Rodríguez Díaz, Dr., PhD - the social structure of loving-kindness in Buddhist populations of the Mekong region (and neighbords): a sociological analysis
Ven. Piyarathana Warukandeniya - Buddhism in Thailand
Ven. Dr. Thich Tam Duc – Eko Maggo, A positive approach for the people in the Mekong region
HISTORY AND BILATERAL RELATION
Buddhism in the Mekong region: History and development
Buddhism begins with The Buddha’s Enlightenment and ends with man’s. Buddhism was from the first a missionary religion. Nothing was written down for at least four hundred years after the death of Buddha. But the principles discussed were memorized eventually in course of centuries gradually codified, changed and divided into two major divisions- the Hinayana known as Theravada and Mahayana, namely the Chinese and Tibetan traditions. The Theravada tradition spread from India to Sri Lanka and Burma in the third century BCE, and from there to Yunnan in southwest China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, South Vietnam and Indonesia. The Chinese form of Mahayana later spread to Korea, Japan and North Vietnam. The Tibetan Mahayana tradition spread throughout the Himalayan regions and to Mongolia, Central Asia and northern Inner China, and also to southern China including Vietnam.
Ganga to Mekong river, development and transformation of Buddhism
Buddhism was founded by Buddha in the heart of the Gangetic plane, India. Later Buddhism was migrated to different parts of the World during course of time. Buddhism reaches to Mekong region from two geographical migration locations, one from India to Myanmar (Burma) and second through Silk routes from China. Ganga and Mekong river basin is life line of these two regions and also one of the most fertile lands of the World. Mekong River is originating in Tibetan plateau and moves to downstream crossing Thailand, Laos, Vietnam Myanmar and Cambodia. These region share common culture diversities and tradition, Buddhism played a unifying force in cultural integrity and identities to Mekong region. Mekong River gives livelihood to around sixty million people. The largest percentage of the rural population of these six countries primarily depends on Mekong River and its tributaries.
This paper gives an analysis of two aspects of Mekong Buddhism, first historical aspect and second present development.
In the first part this research paper deals with the historical migration, development, transformation and adaptation of Buddhism from Indian Gangetic plane to Mekong region. Buddhism was introduced in Mekong region through different direction and in different period. First in second century BCE, Theravada Buddhism through Myanmar. Second time in third century AD, Mahayana Buddhism by Chinese monk. The second part of this paper give focuses on the present days of Buddhism in the era of globalisation and information technology. Mekong River gives numerous opportunities to millions of people in terms of sustainable livelihood. In the present international World order the Mekong River region gives obedience of multilateral relationship between six Mekong River region countries with other countries of the World. The Ganga Mekong River cooperation is one of the major platform of cooperation and development. Cultural exchange, employment, sustainable ecosystem, sustainable uses of resource, economy and tourism.
Theravada Buddhism rose like phoenix in Mekong delta
Buddhism came to Vietnam as early as the second century CE through the North from China and via Southern routes from India. Theravada Buddhism arrived from India into the southern Mekong Delta region after 300 C.E. and became popular in ethnic group, Khmer Krom. The process of its development can be divided into the three historical periods, which are Funan, Chenla and Vietnam.
Theravada Buddhism experienced many obstacles along from Nguyễn Court to French, and then to Americans supported Ngô Đình Diệm, of South Vietnam. Despite all these problems the Theravada Buddhism survived because it does not contain the institutional structures, hierarchy, or sanghas that exist in other traditional Buddhist settings. It has instead grown from a symbiotic relationship with Taoism, Chinese spirituality, and the indigenous Vietnamese religion, with the majority of Buddhist practitioners focusing on meditation.
The paper will focus primarily on Theravada Buddhism in the Mekong delta. The dating remains tentative but significant discoveries include a fine standing Buddha in maramudr, found at Tuol Tahoy, Kompong Speu province, innumerable Buddha images in stone, wood, glass, clay, bone and metal from Funan of seventh century, help in corroborating the facts.
A sociological study on the reciprocal religious relationship between Myanmar and Sri Lanka in the 11th and 12th centuries
This research study is concerned with the reciprocal religious relationship between Myanmar and Sri Lanka in the period of late 11th century and 12th century. Research problem was articulated to address the main issues of the protection of the Theravada Buddhism and the impacts of the bilateral relations in dealing with them. Accordingly, the objective of the study was to explore and explain the main issues that the Buddhism in both countries confronted with and the positive impacts of the interaction between the two countries on the resurgence of the order of monks and the reinforcement of the Theravada Buddhism.
As is evident from the analysis, four major issues such as the political instability, lack of political patronage, changing discipline and knowledge of Buddhist monks and lack of properly ordained monks had been addressed by the bilateral relations. Theravada Buddhism had flourished in the periods of righteous kings such as Maha Wijayabahu and Maha Parakramabahu in Sri Lanka and Anuruddha and some others in Myanmar who were supportive for the perpetuation of Buddhism and provided political patronage. Both countries had helped each other when the protection of Theravada Buddhism and the order of Maha Sangha were seriously challenged by unavoidable political and religious changes. The order of Theravada monks in Sri Lanka had deteriorated before the enthronement of both kings, Maha Wijayabahu and Maha Parakramabahu and they revived the order of monks with higher ordination getting the patronage of the kings and the Monks well versed with the Theravada doctrine and the traditions of higher ordination in Myanmar. Later on Buddhist novices of Myanmar such as Chappa also obtained higher ordination in Sri Lanka under the tutorship of Sri Lankan Monks. The Chappa Thero returned to Pagan with four other monks after ten years in Sri Lanka and there he established a Seehala- Sangha order in addition to the existing order of monks. After the passing away of the Chappa Seehal Sangha order divided into three sectors. The purity of Theravada Buddhist doctrine was also reinforced by both countries exchanging books of Thripitaka and other religious documents and grammar books of Pali language. The King Anuruddha of Myanmar had got a copy of Sri Lankan version of Thripitaka for comparing it with a local version. It is contended that Sri Lanka and Myanmar had been able to protect the Theravada Buddhism and perpetuate it due to the reciprocal support they gained through bilateral relations.
Bilateral relations and exchange between Japan and the countries of the Mekong region
The aim of this research paper is to illuminate the significance of bilateral relations and exchange between Japan and the countries of the Mekong Region. Considering ASEAN countries, CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Viet Nam) are known as less accretion nations due to their disparity in level of development. Although CLMV is facing numerous obstacles on the way of progress, stability, and future integration, Japan has been accomplishing significant assistance through Official development assistance (ODA) and in partnership with Non-Government Organizations.
Initially, explication continues with observing history of exchange between Japan and the countries of the Mekong Region. It goes back roughly 600 years at the ambience that Japan loved trade with Southeast Asia, including the Mekong Region, generally through the Ryukyu Islands (now Okinawa). After actuated the vermillion seal certificate trade, several of Japanese moved to the Mekong Region and built Japan-towns, Japanese districts similar to Ayutthaya (Thailand), Hoi An (Viet Nam), and Udong (Cambodia).
Secondly, it emphasizes the significance of relation and exchange of Japan with Mekong Region countries to the decrease numerous obstacles on the way of development. The CLMV countries has been assistance by Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund to its development on projects such as the construction of roads, bridges, schools, and hospitals.
Thirdly, with the results of its relationship increasing the neighboring affiliation with these countries, Japan has signed a series of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and bilateral investment agreements. It’s not just economic partnership but also the exchanges of Buddhist cultural, tradition, and as well as the qualities of belief system among the people of the Mekong Region.
Finally, propagate of Buddhism and progress of economic in Mekong Region, Japan is encouraging people in a comprehensive range of fields including politics, economy, culture, and tourism. It’s not merely straight effects to the economic development but also for ultimate development of Buddhism in Mekong Region.
Mekong-Ganga co-operation: A tool for cultural ties between India and Vietnam
Dr. Rana Purushottam Kumar Singh
Mekong Ganga Co-operation was established on November 10th ,2000 at Vientiane. It comprises six member countries namely India, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Here Mekong indicates the great cultural influence on five countries and Ganga is lifeline of middle part of India. The one factor which combines all the nations of Mekong Ganga Co-operation is Buddhism and ancient Indian Culture. Buddhism is source of life for all six countries. The influence of Buddha’s teachings on mankind remained pervasive and spread rapidly both in India and beyond her boundaries to gain a lasting hold in the lives of countless millions throughout the countries in Mekong Valley and in the world.
India through its look east policy has tried to revitalize the cultural and religious linkages between India and the five nations like Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Because of look east policy and Ganga Mekong Co-operation all six countries have widened their horizon of cultural religious and economic relationship. The proposed paper would explore the areas of relationship where more and more emphasis could be given. Buddhism has provided base for further development in the field of trade commerce, science and technology etc. India and Vietnam are the two examples for getting more and more stronger in comparison to other nations. Relationship between the two nations have started on the basis of religion and culture and now both the nations have economic and cultural unbreakable bond. India granted the “Most favored Nation” status to Vietnam. Vietnam has supported India’s bid to become a permanent member of the U.N Security Council. So both the countries are creating an arc of advantage and prosperity in Southeast Asia.
The paper would explore the tools and means through which both the countries could strengthen their economic, cultural and educational relationship based on Buddhism and Buddhist Philosophy.
Mekong-Ganga cooperation and Indian prime minister Modi’s Buddhist diplomacy: Perspectives and prospects
Prof. Siddharth Singh
There have been more than approximately 14 years after the ministerial delegations from six Asian nations, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, gathered in Vientiane, the capital of Laos; to launch the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) on November 10, 2000. And this initiative took place when the Indian Government was led by a coalition National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the largest stakeholder of which was the political party called BJP (Bharatiya Janta Party). BJP appeared to be considerably active participant into Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) initiative but this political party lost the power in the 2004 elections with the Congress Party came into power and afterwards, the role of Indian government remained ritualistic.
Now, after the BJP came into the power with huge majority in the fresh Indian general election, 2014 under the leadership of Narendra Modi, the current Prime Minister; a definite shift in India’s Look East Policy is underway with added emphasis on Buddha diplomacy under the new dispensation and Prime Minister Modi seemingly plans to utilize the Buddha’s identity in order to further the India’s relationships with the countries of the Mekong region as India is the place of origin of Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.
The indications from Indian Prime Minister Modi’s official visits of the neighbouring countries like Bhutan, China, Myanmar and Japan, his policy of neighbourhood first and act east, his interest in Buddhism during his Chief Ministership of Gujarat state, and his affirmation of the presence of Buddhist heritage in his home state Gujarat as well as it’s visit by the ancient Chinese traveller and Buddhist monk scholar Xuanzang in 7th century AD, and above all, his party’s political interest in joining hands with “old cultural brothers” to combat with Islamic and Christian forces; says that it is the high time for the relational development for both, India and the Mekong Region Countries and to give a fresh momentum to Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) initiatives.
The present researcher, in this paper, will make an endeavour to highlight the different layers of the entire picture of Mekong Ganga Cooperation, Modi’s Buddhist diplomacy, challenges and it’s future prospects in the backdrop of changed Indian political scenario.
Indian paradigm for new world order
As we acutely feel all is not well at the global level in the contemporary existential scenario and this call for a paradigm shift in our value perceptions, in our modes of thinking and in our ways of living. Buddhism is at once both ancient and contemporary and has perennial significance and relevance. With its rational philosophy of peace and harmony interdependence and reciprocity, universal love and compassion, mutual care and share, fellowship and participation it can offer an effective and more beneficial alternative to the present day individualistic, materialistic, competitive, consumerist and disruptive view of life and reality.
The present delineation pertains to unique contribution of Buddhism to human civilization in terms of goal of human existence, methods of realizing the same and thus providing a blue print for new social, political and economic order at local and global levels. Lord Buddha’s advocacy of pursuit of wisdom and practice of universal compassion, his vision of selfsameness with every existence and his zealous longing for eradication of suffering of all cross all barriers of race, creed, country and even humanity. His emphasis on four noble virtues (Brahmaviharas) have a significant message for the present day distracted humanity suffering from exhaustion of spirit and languishing in the narrow confinements of ego-centricity, parochialism and disastrous materialistic consumerism.
Human existence is multi-dimensional, multilayered and multi- relational. There has to be corporate living among all human beings and therefore there has to be cooperative partnership and supportive mutualism in community life. This is the implication of “Sangham sharanam gachchami”. Democracy is the prevalentform of governance but it has many pitfalls which can be eliminated with Buddhist insights. Democracy seasoned with principles of Dharma can be called Dharmocracy. Buddhist approach to structure and manage economy on compassionate and corporate grounds offers an effective and beneficent alternative as it is characterized by love and compassion, benevolence and altruism and caring and sharing. Such a model caters to purity of environment, both internal and external.
Religious diversity and harmony for world peace
Ven. Dr. Thich Nhat Tu
In this article, my emphasis is on the importance of promoting understanding, tolerance and dialogue among religion and belief for purpose of respect for religious and cultural diversity throughout the world. My standpoint in this regard is that apart from universal practice of tolerance, respect, dialogue among religions, we should encourage cooperation among different civilizations, cultures and religions, in order to promote international peace for humanity.
HERITAGE AND ACCULTURALTION
Fostering the Buddhist heritage in the Mekong region through the acculturation of fundamental tenets of Buddhism
Dr. R.M Rathnasiri
Healthy living in the contemporary world has been awfully threatened due to several discernible reasons although unprecedented material advancement has been achieved.
Ignorance of the importance of health, personal cleanliness, health hazardous food culture, over–eating, immoral behavior etc. imperil physical health. The absence or at least the diminution of these factors conduces to healthier living.
Healthy living, according to Buddhism, is mainly of twofold aspects as mental health and physical health. According to the Sukhavagga of the Dhammapada,health is the most precious gain; contentment is the greatest wealth (Ārogyaparamā lābhā - santuṭṭhī paramaṁ dhanaṁ). Physical health is achieved through behavioral and social wellbeing of a person in the absence of the problems mentioned above and mental health is gained through spiritual wellbeing of a person.
Healthy body means a body free from severe ailments and diseases regardless of intermittent sicknesses. Wholesome healthy behaviors to keep body healthy, healthy food, wholesome dietary culture advocated in the modern health science.
Wholesome behavior and psycho strength achieved by the observance of the five precepts that safeguard human rights, right livelihood, skillful bodily and verbal actions, the Four Conditions – persistent effort (uṭṭhāna-sampadā), the accomplishment of watchfulness (ārakkha-sampadā), good friendship (kalyāṇamittatā) and balanced livelihood (sama-jīvikatā) and refrain from six channels of dissipation of wealth, the Four Types of Vices, the Four Types of Bliss of a lay man, the practice of four Sublime Abodes, the Ten Meritorious Deeds, confidence in the Triple Jewel etc. contribute to mental health, the obligatory prerequisite for healthy existence.
Maintaining physical health, personal hygiene, healthy dietary habits and moderation in food as revealed in the Vinaya piṭaka and adoption of behavioural, mental and cognitive qualities as exposed in the Sutta piṭaka highly contribute to healthy living.
Mekong river: A bridge of culture heritage and religion among the surrounding Buddhist countries
Geographical condition, socio-economic and political system play a vital role in shaping the culture and ideological practice of the inhabitants of a region. It is also true in case of the regions surrounding the Mekong River. History provides enormous evidences that these areas are historically identical in terms of culture, heritage and religion. For centuries Buddhism has been the dominant religion in these areas and it has contributed a lot in fabricating the culture of these regions. But history, art, architectural evidences and literature of these regions also prove that before the appearance of Buddhism there was the existence of animism and Hinduism the impact of which still prevails. Besides, Islam and Christianity also entered and left influence upon these lands. Moreover the involvement of the rulers and traders in the religious matters and prevalent warring situation against one another at different times are also obvious throughout the history.
Europeans entrance has also left mark and added new dimension to the history of these countries. Hence a cross cultural influence is evident among these nations. Today two very popular Buddhist traditions such as Mahāyana and Theravāda are the key religious practices among the people of these areas. But if we observe the practice of Buddhism in these areas we see that it is mainly limited to the ritualistic practices rather than intellectual or philosophical practice. Moreover, the interest in learning Buddhism academically and profoundly is decreasing day by day.
Dividing into two periods i.e. ancient to middle period and the modern period, I will attempt to make an introspective analysis into the socio-economic, cultural and political background of these regions and thus try to understand the form of the existence of Buddhism throughout the time. Then I will present a discussion on the causes behind the absence and lacking in philosophical practice of Buddhism and finally I will provide some suggestive measures about how intellectual practice of Buddhism can be developed in these areas.
Impact of artistic value and aesthetic sense on developing Buddhism in the Mekong region: Through sculptures of Phat tich pagoda in Vietnam
Dr. Leena Seneheweera
Research has demonstrated the applicability of visual art genres as the medium of developing Buddhism among the Mekong region. Normally, the content of Buddhist paintings, sculpture, architecture and carvings in the Mekong region, show clearly the cultural influence of Indian subcontinent. Particularly, selected artworks of Phat Tich pagoda in the 11th century represent religiosity and own cultural authorship with the artistic value and Buddhist aesthetic sense。 For the argument I have selected the sculptures of kinnara and kinnari figures those are playing musical instruments and animal figures of Phat Tich Pagoda. Among the Buddhist art, these kind of figures depict as apsaras and divine musicians in Indian and Sri Lankan Buddhist culture.
These animals and visual images of musicians represent relationship of Buddhism and human rights, Buddhist art and culture, society, gender and stimuli for studying the Dhamma. Moreover, visual images have a higher tendency towards representing emotion.
The beauty of religious sculptures of animals, kinnra and kinnari at the Phat Tich pagoda contribute for critical thinking of Buddhist morals and spiritual inspiration. For the achievement of these Buddhist context, the genre of visual art works of Phat Tich pagoda serve as an amenable aid for developing Buddhism not only Vietnam but also South East Asia. The goal of the study is to identify factors relating to the impact of artistic value and aesthetic sense of visual art work to develop Buddhism in Mekong region.
Origin and development of Cham culture of Vietnam: A historical study
Dr. Arvind Kumar Singh
Vietnam situated in the eastern part of Southeast Asia (Mekong Region) is a point of convergence for various ethnic groups and a crossroads of different cultures and civilizations. Among the ethnic groups, Champa or Cham is one of oldest ethnics groups existing and contributing to the development of the state. The Cham are perhaps the oldest and least-known people of Indochina. Inheritors of a proud tradition that stretches back almost two thousand years; Champa or Cham Kingdom was the first Indianized Kingdom in Indochina. In the beginning, Champa Kingdom had built a rich and powerful country, and attained a high experience of a well-organized social system, as well as advanced culture. Champa was preceded in the region by a kingdom called Lin-yi that was in existence from 192 CE onwards, but the historical relationship between Lin-yi and Champa is not clear. Champa as recorded in ancient documents and inscriptions and as observed in remains, which coincides with the distribution area of Sa Huynh archaeological culture from the Middle of Central Vietnam to the eastern part of South Vietnam. However, did Champa continue or overcome Sa Huynh? So far no clear continuation or fusion can be seen. Lately, The National Institute for Social Science of Vietnam has introduced to the scholars in Vietnam and abroad of many various significant objects and events of Champa. Many new ideas about the territory of Champa and its ethnic composition have revived as a result of research done by recent scholars. Where did they come from? Until now there have been many hypotheses, but no convincing evidence to support any of them.
The present paper will make an effort to highlight various aspects of the historicity of Cham culture, which constitutes a landmark in the history of Champa along with aspects of its cultural activities and engagement of Buddhism with Brahmanical-Hinduism. I shall also make an effort to deal with its history from religious point of view and Indian influence on the Cham Culture. I shall also examine the Indian impact on its art and architecture in an effort to rediscover the Cham Culture once again. Last part of the paper will deal with the influence of Indian culture that has left traces in the Mekong Region or Southeast Asian region.
Exploring Vietnam’s engagement with the silk route: A study of acculturation through art forms and imagery in Buddhist context
Dr. Sushma Trivedi
Vietnam has many distinctions among the countries of Mekong region. besides holding high the flag of Mahāyān amidst the Theravāda tradition, it was perhaps the only country of the region which had access to both the maritime and the overload trading network of the Silk-route. The contribution of Buddhism for the sustenance and survival of the Silk route for almost eight centuries is immense. All along its expanse, the route is replete with Buddhist heritage in form of manuscripts, artifacts and architecture emphasizing that it thrived in the reflected glory of Buddhism.
Vietnamese Buddhism has visible signs of influence and flavor that it received from this trans-Asiatic route. Indian pioneer, the monks Ksudra and Vinitruchi possibly traversed this route to bring the light of Asia into this part of the world. Still it has been difficult to establish a direct involvement of Vietnam in the silk route commercial activities as the eastern terminus of the route, Changan is quite a distance away from Vietnam. The objective of this study is to identity the cultural traits in Vietnamese Buddhism, with special reference to art forms and styles and then trace the route of their discrimination into Vietnam. Thereafter, it is argued that as trade and Buddhism traversed hand in hand along the silk route, Vietnam must have been an important enchantment area for the trade network. Recently an important archaeological discovery has been made in Handan, China in 2012 which has yielded more than three thousand Buddhist antiquities. This Catche has important bearings on the topic of the present study and its finding have been utilized to support the conclusions.
This study is relevant to the present as there are efforts to revive the ancient silk route and develop a silk-route economic belt. Vietnam could be a participant and important stakeholder in the future plans related to the silk route. It could play a crucial role of linking the Mekong region with this intercontinental overland trade network.
Buddha-Yoga-Siva hybridity among the old Khmer and Siamese
This paper aims to provide an array of Cultural Studies access tools to explain and counterpoise the common disregard by "etic" exogenous colonial scholarship, on the one hand, for the "emic" indigenous methodologies intrinsic to the very subjects that they wish to study, on the other hand. We place great store on the cultural infusions that largely stemmed from Brahmanical India beginning as early as the 1st century CE with Funan in the Mekong Delta, a pre-Angkorian Indianised realm. We lay foundations for the medieval period and show the extent to which the two mighty neighbours expressed a thirst for syncretic and hybrid elaborations.
The late 8th century conflation of Śiva with the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara and the subsequent creation of the deity Lokeśvara is an eminent example of elements blending to produce a novel hybrid strain. The present paper further underscores our discovery of a rarely attested triveṇī saṁgam or "threestream-confluence" of Śaiva, Yoga and Bauddha currents reflecting immersive triadic aspiration with feminine component intermedially layered in the re-elaboration of the canonical Buddha symbolically imbued by the nāga kuṇḍalinī. Focus will not be solely trained on the striking mélanges of natural selection; nor shall we place our whole concern on the discontinuities, jarring breaches and visceral purges that arise among these seemingly cognate realms.
Yogic seeds are especially valued, and by utilizing broad eclectic tools with complete somaesthetic-cum-ethnographic license we assess the arrival, modulation and transmission of the primitive forms as preserved in contemporary South, Southeast and Far-East Asian soteriological traditions. Speaking precisely, we aim to differentiate extant relics, primordial, indigenous or adventitious to Angkorian, Sukhothai and Ayutthayan forms and wonder which if any may find accord with contemporary ascetic-arts manifestations. Legendary gurus play a part as well both as markers and vectors of spiritual precursors that span millennia-long lines of allegiances to kings, royal priests and wandering ascetics to the ashram of Khmer Thai Brahmin Guru Chot (1900-1988).
The Buddhist heritage of Myanmar: Bagan treasured as heart of Myanmar
Dr. Thiri Nyunt
There exist dignified sites and marvelous edifices proud of the respective countries in the world. These things stand for the invaluable and fascinated heritages handed over by the constructed and maintained from parents to new generations. Lack of fascinating things, needless to say the world would be rather dull and monotonous. Some countries extol their historical or religious buildings and places, and others glorify their amazing natural lands. These elegant heritages are regarded as the most precious culture and work of art since the fact that antique things more treasurable than the modernized materialties become apprehended. In Asia, Mekong region embracing five countries gratify and treasure Mekong River for establishing a close rapport with countries flowing along its water. Surprisingly, majority of people in the Mekong region take Buddhism as well as some of their impressive material culture is of similarities. In Myanmar, one of the member countries of the Mekong region, varieties of ancient religious buildings, culture, and wonderful architectures of Myanmar ancestors can be seen. In spite of being a diverse range of indigenous cultures in Myanmar, Myanmar culture is principally related to the Buddhist culture like others’ Buddhist countries such as Thailand, Cambodia etc.
In this paper, it will be presented about Bagan, the capital of the Pagan Kingdom from the 9th to 13th centuries, taken as the heart of Myanmar for the enriched heritages with the graceful refinement of arts in Buddhism. These heritages authenticate the history of Buddhism, religious faith, ancient civilization, economy, material culture and spiritual culture in Bagan Dynasty. Taken lessons from the apparent evidences of evaporation of the Buddhism in some countries for failure to maintain the Buddhists heritages there, all Buddhists should harmoniously perform the conservation of the noble heritages that is presumably to convey to promoting, propagation, perpetuation of the Buddha sâsana.
Brāhmaṇical-Hindu and animistic practices in modern Cambodian Buddhism
Prof. K.T.S. Sarao
Modern Cambodian Buddhism exists alongside and to some extent has intermingled with Brāhmaṇical-Hindu and pre‑Buddhist animistic practices. Most Cambodians, both Buddhists as well as non-Buddhists, worship and propitiate various kinds of spirits. They believe that non-human entities such as animals, plants, and inanimate objects possess a spiritual essence. Whenever unwell or during times of adversity, Cambodians often seek supernatural help. They often seek help of practitioners who they believe can bring them beneficial help by propitiating these spirits. One can see shrines made for these spirits in homes, Buddhist temples, in forests, and along highways and byways. Over the centuries, a phenomenon of syncretism, acculturation and assimilation has been taking place within the popular milieu. Brāhmaṇical-Hindu and Buddhist movements in a variety of forms became implanted in Cambodia through many waves of Indianization. Slowly Sanskrit was replaced by Pāli. Brāhmaṇical-Hinduism and Mahāyāna Buddhism were replaced by Theravāda. But not entirely. In the process, many pre-Buddhist practices and remnants of practices that were part of Mahāyāna Buddhism, Tantricism, and animistic practices have become part of the lives of Cambodian Buddhists. In this paper, an attempt shall be made to study this long process of religious syncretism.
ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS AND RESPONSE
The teaching of environmental ethics & traditional environmental knowledge (TEK) through asian-buddhist culture stories
Prof. Padmasiri de Silva
This paper attempts a conceptual framework for collecting culture stories that would have an ecological reference, for developing TEK as well as teaching environmental ethics. (1) The project takes into account the large reservoir of traditional environmental knowledge, philosophy and experience, in selected traditional Buddhist cultures in the Mekong area. Local people who display ecologically sound practice, conservation strategies, foster further research into traditional life styles and ecology. (2) “Environmental ethics” as an academic discipline is relative new to traditional Asian universities and I have already accomplished in doing a pilot project (see below), for the teaching of Buddhist culture stories stimulating people to think in terms of environmental ethics as a tool for the integration of conservation and development, satisfaction of basic human needs, provision for cultural diversity and maintaining ecological integrity. Ethics can clarify for people and help them identify moral reasons for alternative courses of action; ethics can integrate the broken circle of ethics, ecology, economics and culture; ethics can help people to adjudicate the best environmentally sound option for actions, when there are conflicting demands: thus environmental ethics clarify the morally sound reasons, adjudicate when there are conflicts and integrate different disciplines.
Environmental crises on the river of Buddhism
Dr. Khanh Tran & Huyen Tran
This paper will present an overview of hydroelectric dams and other economic development projects on the Mekong that cause severe both human and environmental impacts. Over 65 million people live along the Mekong River. Most of these people are Buddhists from Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam and, hence, Mekong is called the “River of Buddhism”. They are mainly poor fishermen or farmers living off the river, and their daily life is constantly threatened by flood, drought, deforestation, ill-planned development projects. These development projects range from the large hydroelectric dams in Yunnan Province to the smaller Xayaburi and Don Sahong dams in Laos. Moreover, the Chinese have cleared and enlarged the river as a navigation channel for large commercial boats, even oil transport vessels. These development projects cause serious economic, ecological and environmental consequences in downstream countries, especially Cambodia and Vietnam. These significant impacts are largely ignored by upstream countries. Similar to the dangerous situation in the East Sea, they may be the causes for conflict, political crisis and even war in the near future. Even the survival of the Mekong river may be in serious doubt in the next few decades.
Buddhism is known as a religion of peace and compassion. The Buddha had intervened in the conflict between the Sakya and Koliya clans over the water rights of the Rohini river and had resolved it peacefully. Since all countries along the river are predominantly Buddhist, why can’t a Buddhist-inspired response to the crises be applied to ensure the peaceful and sustainable development of the river resources? This paper will discuss such a response based on relevant Buddhist teachings, namely the three poisons (dams are constructed for monetary gains while ignoring environmental impacts), dependent origination (whether upstream or downstream, we all live in an interdependent, interconnected world) and compassion to liberate all sentient beings, including not only fellow human beings but also fish and other animal species that are facing extinction.
Buddhist response on environmental degradation in the Mekong region
Dr. M.P.M. Peiris
Modern scientific man has unraveled many of the mysteries of nature but yet unfortunately it has brought about a remarkable pollution rendering nature inhospitable to his very existence nonrenewable natural resources such as air water and soil are polluted to render human survival questionable. In this regard, Mekong Region is not an exception.
The magnanimity and the fatality of the present environmental degradation indicate how humans have ravaged the favorable environment by exhausting and destroying natural resources. The animal and plant life are endangered to such an extent that numerous species have already become extinct. Deforestation has given rise to the erosion of the top soil exposing the bald rock underneath. The indiscriminate use of chemical manure, pesticides and weedicides has thrown the natural bacterial balance of arable land out of equilibrium with almost irrevocable consequences. The scientists predict global warming with the possibility of inundating island and coastal civilizations by melting polar ice caps. The ozone layer that shields the earth from ultra violet rays is now reduced posing an immediate danger to human health.
According to Buddhist teachings man should first understand himself as a part and parcel of nature and his environment. Just as the world constantly undergo changes so does man undergo changes man in his ignorance and arrogance considers himself as superior to nature.
This paper expects to explore the wisdom contained in Buddha’s teachings to follow a value –oriented Lifestyle for a hospitable natural environment. It is evidently an unwise human intervention with nature based on ignorance and craving. If mankind think that the present situation is unbearable there is no alternative but a rediscovery of moral values and a return to righteousness. It is expected to discuss how ethically wholesome intentions and ideas lead to human happiness, with the cessation of environmental degradation. Human mind is closely associated with the air we breathe. Hence negative emotions add psychologically related pollutions also to the environment The ecological problem facing today is not just a physical problem alone it is also a moral problem. The prudent management of resources will be explained according to Buddhism to stop wanton exploitation of nature. Buddhism advocates the importance of the adherence to the middle path in all matters philosophical and practical.
Buddhist response to environmental crisis in Mekong region: Methods, regulations & pragmatism
Dr. Anand Singh
Buddhism is a strong force in Mekong region especially in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. The river valleys formed by the Mekong river evolved, developed and contributed new ideas, practices and continuity to Buddhism. This is not behind the modern responses when need arise to introspect and solve modern crisis like environmental deterioration, economic depression, deforestation etc. It was Vietnam where the term ‘engaged Buddhism’ was coined to solve modern environmental crisis of the world with the help of the teachings of the Buddha. In fact the Mekong region globalized the teachings of the Buddha to serve the humanity and save the world from destruction. The environmental movements started by Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, Sulaka Sivaraksa and Mahaghoshnanda not only gave new direction to environmental movements in Mekong region but also in other parts of the World. Their engaged traditions like ‘Council of Interbeing’, ‘Dhammayatras’ and ‘Ecology Monks’ became new tools to fight with environmental deterioration. The paper will explore method of such movements, their impact and future vision with special reference to Asia and the world.
Buddhist response to the issue of overfishing in the Mekong river
Phyu Mar Lwin
Since the Mekong River flows through Southern China and five South-East Asian Buddhist countries: Myanmar, the Lao PDR, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, it is home to over a hundred different ethnic groups. Mekong Basin is one of the world’s richest areas in biodiversity and most productive in inland fisheries. Nowadays, more fish are caught than the population to get rapid achievement and high economic growth. Overfishing has serious consequence which leads to numerous changes in both the target species and other species. Thus, it is a greatest threat to inland water biodiversity. The scarcity of the natural resources and biodiversity negatively affected to its ecosystem and environment. In Buddhism, the first and foremost precept of five basic moral codes is not to kill any living-beings. This precept is not only meant for killing but also for prohibiting act of violence. Indeed, people in this region are under influence the Buddhist Teaching and culture. On the other hand, artisanal fisheries have played as an important role for food and livelihood of up to 60 million people in this region. For the sake of rural people’s survival, though fishery could not be completely stopped, unsustainable fishing should be prevented from the Buddhist perspective. Overfishing is caused by greedy mind when they want to be more beneficial. As human do not have contentment in their needs, natural resources like aquatic biodiversity will become extinct. Desires, attachment, greed and hatred make us to be unaware of the consequences. In addition, attitude of human beings concerning with environment should be broader. However we are different in beliefs and religious dogmas and also live in different countries, all are equally suffering the environmental problems and climate changes.
This paper sets to describe about the applicable Buddhism that suits for all in order to lessen catastrophes and protect aquatic biodiversity in our regional lifeblood, the Mekong River.
Damming on the Mekong river in the guise of developments: Buddhist response
In order to fulfill the high demand of electricity for its speedy economic developments, since 1990s Chinese government has been starting to build the dams along the upstream of Mekong river, the ‘mother water’ feeding the nine million population along its both banks which are across China itself, Burma, Lao, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Unavoidably the damages towards the solids, the hydrology, and ecology of Mekong River had been worsening within these years when the downstream countries such as Lao and Cambodia have also been following China’s steps to build the dams to generate the electricity. This thematic paper aims to promote the concept of environment-friendly development along the Mekong River by investigating the Buddhist teachings on the environments in the early Buddhism. At the same time, whether or not these very teachings can be applied in the modern days has also attracted the weighty accounts in the present paper.
In order to prove the authenticity of the Buddhist teachings on the environment, this paper has paid a comparative study on the respective texts from both Nikāyas and Āgamas. Meanwhile some exemplary cases campaigned by the Buddhist communities dwelling along the Mekong River has also be promoted with a profound survey. The findings lead to the following two factors: 1) Buddhism has paid its high concerns towards the environment-protection textually and practically since the time of the Buddha; 2) Applying the Buddhist concept of environment to promote the environment-friendly developments along the Mekong Kong is an another good alternative for the governments of the countries depend on this ‘mother’ water.
Buddhism as a vehicle for the sustainable management of the Mekong region: Exploration of essential notions
Dr. Peter Daniels
This paper explores how the Buddhist world view can provide a suitable forum to help guide and encourage trans-boundary cooperative strategies and actions for the sustainable management of the Mekong Region by the suite of Buddhist nations sharing the Mekong River Basin. The bioregion defined by the “Mother of Water” provides an appropriate example of the intrinsic inter-connectedness of human activity within society and the rest of the natural world. This parallel with what is (arguably) the fundamental perspective of Buddhism, provides a cogent rationale for joint concern and action to minimize harm to this critical natural resource.
The paper focuses upon the existing “Mekong” countries which are all significantly Buddhist nations – especially if we include the strong resurgence of Buddhism in China. The aim is to identify and highlight Buddhist-inspired motives, strategies and guidelines for the creation and implementation of workable policies for the sustainable management of the Mekong Region. Buddhism provides many underlying world views and insights that favor the ability to sustainably manage the Mekong system – ranging from a profound appreciation and understanding of the “scientific” nature of ecological and social inter-dependence, to the mitigation of the underlying driving forces of stress upon natural resources from the moderation of material consumerism. The research also recognizes, from the Buddhist perspective, the need for balance and to have adequate economic growth to reduce poverty and suffering in the region.
The impact of Buddhist teachings to build an ecofriendly atmosphere in the Mekong region
Ms. Kaushalya Karunasagara
Certain current world states are in an ultimate technological development process by examining each and every possible way to grow more than antagonistic countries. Being inverse in that situation, member countries of the Mekong sub region have launched the Core Environment Program and Biodiversity Conservation Corridor Initiative (CEP-BCI)to shield Mother Nature from dangerous human activities. The aim of this research paper is to give applied Buddhist interpretation to comprise four components of CEP-BCI Phase II by supporting the vision “a platform for multi-country and multi-sector engagement on key environmental issues”.
Initially,explication continues with interpretation of the environmental ethics, secondly, global responsibility of ecological conservation, thirdly, Buddhist perspective on ethics for environmental preservation and finally, emphasize the prerequisite of interior human development of mankind through sacred texts to evaluate ecological ethics. Implications of nanotechnology, large amount of CO2 emission processes, deforestation, over consumption of natural resources, etc. are identified as the main causes of ecological contamination. Buddhism focuses about human “needs” and it does not encourage human to deal with “wants” which increases craving. In the same manner, pursuing people to live with the concept “Contentment is bliss”, automatically lead society to use ecological resources in accordance to their needs but not wants. Both Buddhist teaching and CEP mission of protecting the Ecological values in Mekong region encourage to substantiate the responsibilities of human with different angles, but with a one key point. Therefore, as a collective agreement, there should be a sanctioned practical method which approved by constitutions of all states to protect the Mother Nature as a sacred treasure.
Buddhism in the Mekong region: Environmental crises and response
The aim of this researched paper is to reduce the Environmental Crises and to demonstration the significances Buddhist teachings on preservation of environment. With considering the Core Environment Program and Biodiversity Conversation Corridor Initiative (CEP-BCI) the ideas to progress these countries by using the Mekong River resources in eco-friendly way. As the 12th longest river in the world it cover-up such countries like Myanmar, China, Laos, Thailand, including the Viet Nam by making international relationships within those countries. The Mekong River is a treasure for those countries.
Initially, this researched paper elaborate the current situation of the Environment Crises as well as inequitable activities concerning Mekong River. In other hand it elaborates the common environmental condition all over the world and observing those matter to afford plentiful instructions for comprehend the way of Safeguard of the Mekong environment.
Secondly, it shows the Buddhist point of view on Environment with reference to the Tipitaka and the other texts. Its court the examples from the sutta’s to explain the Buddha’s path to protect the Environment. It demonstrates the practical methods of preservation of environmental with observing the earlier Buddhist culture.
Finally, among the people of Mekong Region using the techniques of preservation of environment, as the part of human life, as well as receiving the Buddhist perspectives of ecological development, progress on the path of economic development. In 21st century, on the path of rapid economic developing, people should realize the value of environment with concerning the Buddhist teachings and balance both sections for safeguard of all beings.
Climate change, migrations, conflicts and sustainable development
Jacob Waiswa Buganga
The Mekong River is the longest river in the world. Besides helping to provide water for populations in Southern China, it supports some 60 million people downstream in South East Asia –where the river is key component for agriculture production and economic development. More than two thirds of the population live lived directly from agriculture and fisheries. Indigenous communities have for long been recognized as being particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to close connection between their livelihoods, culture, spirituality and social systems and their environment. However, the deep and long standing relationship with the natural environment afforded many local groups with knowledge that they have long used to adapt to environmental change and are now using to respond to the impacts of climate change. Conflict over scarce resources was inevitable.
This paper examines the role human development activities and their contribution conflicts in the Mekong Region and how they have been minimized.
New development on the Mekong disrupted the natural flow of the river delta and increased incidents of floods and sanitation challenges. Such dangers triggered conflict among countries sharing the Mekong river delta. The future generation was denied not only the natural resources of the future but also the rich knowledge from the strong connection to the natural environment spiritually, culturally and economically - to transfer to other generations. Legal frameworks were also put in place to voice out the interests of the local communities affected by the constructions of dams. The threat to conflict remained a big concern for the Mekong Region, which calls for rapid emergence of civil society organizations to champion local interests and benefits alongside all developments on the Mekong River, through continuous negotiations and institution of policy frameworks to guide developers –with clear view of environment concerns.
Ven. Dr. Thich Tam Duc – From Paṭiccasamuppāda to environmental protection
Our Earth, in which environment is now increasingly polluted, is sending an SOS asking for help from humanity! As one of great religions in the world, What can Buddhism do?
In Buddhism, Paṭiccasamuppāda, Dependent Origination or the Law of cause and effect which was discovered by Monk Gotama just before his getting enlightenment to become a Buddha. And the Buddha did warn of the unlimited craving of human, saying: a) This unstable world is brought to an end, b) This world is no refuge, no guard, c) This world is not one’s own, one must go leaving everything, and d) This world lacks and is unsatisfied, a slave to craving.
From the above principle gives us a sense of environmental protection before it is too late!
Implementing Buddhism for solutions to the world’s environmental problems and to build a progressive, social justice, sustainable and low carbon development
The presentation examines the IPCC’s scientific proofs of the present world’s environmental problems and the challenges in the solutions proposed by the UN and international organisations that require socio-economic and fundamental value changes, in order to save the world from environmental catastrophe. Analyses have shown that Buddhism’s teaching, approach and practices are fundamental to the 4R’s principles (Reduce, Re-use, Recycle and Renewable energy) and the Clean/ ZERO WASTE development. These are being implementedby the United Nations, international financial institutions, communities and industries worldwide to slow down the CO2 emissions. Thus it is important to realize Buddhism has practical answers to the challenges and therefore the need to have mechanisms to implement the science and Buddhist practices in the societies’ daily activities. The expected results are the righteous actions for development sustainability and long-term changes in psychological, moral and intellectual attitudes of individuals and society. All benefit Buddhists Peace and Happiness as keys of truthful humanity development on earth and the progress toward social justice, sustainable development world-wide.
MODERNISATION AND GLOBALISATION
Buddhism in the Mekong region: Modernization and globalization
Deva Priya Barua
This study depicts to explore the tests for a cross-section of six countries , including Vietnam, Laos, Combodia ,the Yunnan Province(PRC), Thailand and Myanmar.The findings presented here are primarily based on research on Urban Buddhism carried out in Vientiane Province. This article sets out mainly to evaluate the Lao Buddhist Sangha's way towards establishing a form of socially-engaged Buddhism. The research Paper analyses about the Buddhist Clergy's position and involvement in society in the mirror of modernisation and give a short historic overview of the Sangh's early pre-revolutionary social engagement. The topics will cover illustrations about-- a) vital role of the Lao Sangha, b)Pre-Buddhist activism, c) Towards a constructive view in Buddhism, d) Exploring new steps of engagement, e)The Metta-ViewHIV/AIDS Project , f) Buddhist Sermon in GMR(Drug prevention).
The Paper also reveals globalization which is manifested in the Mekong Region both through processes and discourses that reflect the ideology of borderless World allowing easy passage of Capital and commodities, and through resistance to such processes in an increasingly transnationalised Civil Society movement. However, more immediately significant supranational integrative agendas take the form of regionalization, a process that received less attention but which raises analogous concern of re-scaled governance.
This study further examines the impact of economic globalisation that increases trafficking inflow into the GMS. Moreover, Migration, Population, Exchange Rate , and Democracy induce higher rates of trafficked Persons, whereas GDP and other factors such as education, Vocational Training and micro- finance through urban development funds decrease this problem is the Region. GNI and rule of law do not have any significant effect on human trafficking.
Buddhism in modernism
Prof. Subarna L Bajracharya
The characteristic of the modernism is self-consciousness. This often led to experiments with form, and work that draws attention to processes and material used. Modernity is the rejection of the false rationality, harmony and coherence of enlightenment thinking, art and music. The world is becoming more complex and the old god, government, science and reasons became subject to intense critical scrutiny. Religion becomes less important in many areas of thought and behavior as traditional beliefs and practices are undetermined.
Buddhism engages more deeply with modernity, we can expect this modernist conception of Buddhism to replace the self-conception in terms of decline. However, that will take time and effort, because for now the Buddhist tradition is a deeply progressive tradition that is beset by anxiety about that very progress.
Buddhism is a teaching based not on faith and belief, but on experience and understanding. This gives it the self-confidence to meet and talk to other teachings and religions, which are by no means necessarily ‘false’ themselves, to listen, to debate, to teach and to learn. Buddhism is fundamentally about solving a problem, and the problem is suffering
Old people are always saying that the young people of today are not what they were. The same comments are made from generation to generation. Teenage depression is a growing problem in today’s society and is often a major contributing factor for a multitude of adolescents’ problem.
Buddhist thoughts and teachings cover all the aspects of human life. Buddhism offers an interesting perspective on the proper practice of behavior management to deal with current challenges. In his teachings, the Buddha placed great importance on daily life as spiritual practice. He provided guidance on everything, from how to eat, dress, work, and live, to how to walk, stand, sit, and sleep. He gave clear directions on every aspect of life, from relations among family members and between friends to how we should conduct ourselves in the social and political arenas.
It is important that the three schools of Buddhism, Mahayana, Theravada and Vajirayana, should strengthen their links and not fall into the trap of trying to compete with each other. Buddhism is a religion for human beings, and the regard for human concerns is very much at the root of this religion. It is an important part of Buddhism that it does not try to conquer hearts and minds, to convert others in order to prove that it is better than other teachings. It is up to that person to listen, and to decide whether this teaching has anything to give them. The lessons of the Dhamma are offered to them. They can take them or leave them just as they please.
Tracing Buddhist response in Mekong region (Vietnam) to modernization and globalization
Dr. Mukesh Kumar Verma
The Mekong region consists of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and other neighbours. Here Buddhism is nucleus of life, society, health and economy. The life of the people in this region is embedded with teachings of the Buddha. Under colonial influence these regions came in to contact with western values, western mode of education and western pattern of life. Because of this at one side modernization process started, the economy, society and education were integrated on globalize pattern and on the other side the deterioration in traditional socio-economic values have been noticed. It has both positive and negative impact. Though modernization have benefited in the field of health, development of science and technology, communication and at other end it leads to loss of forest economy, traditional structure of the society etc. Buddhism has played great role in this region specially in Vietnam where people have adopted positive ideas found in globalization and negative values have been consciously avoided. The Buddhist saṁgha played a major role to organise society which cal be modernised but in pattern of traditional values and culture. The monks like Thich Nhat Hanh are playing prominent role in it. The paper will analyse Buddhist response to globalization in Mekong region with special reference to Vietnam and introspect that how monks and nuns of the region are contributing in such movements.
Buddhist perspective on globalization in the Mekong delta
Dr. Deepmala Mishra
The Mekong Delta is the region in south-western Vietnam of 39,000 square kilometres where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. This region is famous as the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam as well as a “biological treasure trove.” The Mekong Delta is by far Vietnam's most productive region in agriculture and aquaculture. It also has over 10,000 species of flora and fauna and has a very fragile ecology. Only about 8% of its total area is forested and is one of Vietnam's most densely populated regions. It has been predicted that, besides suffering from drought brought on by seasonal decrease in rainfall, many provinces in the Mekong Delta will be flooded by the year 2030. In this paper, an attempt has been made to show how globalization and modernization has been contributing towards this crisis and in what ways Buddhist perspective can help in understanding the crisis and also in helping towards finding a solution to it. Present-day globalization and modernization has been the entire third world, including the Mekong region, in a unique way. It is contributing towards the growth and development of the economy. But it is also creating not only economic disparities between people but also causing serious harm to ecology. From Buddhist perspective, change in life-style and caring attitude towards flora and fauna can make a lot of difference. Globalization is primarily driven by consumerism and production of more and more. This puts too much pressure on the resources. Buddhism proposes satisfaction with minimum and supports equitable distribution of resources. Buddhism also supports avoidance of wastage and looks sympathetically towards ecology. Buddhist doctrines of non-violence, Middle Path, and Dependent Arising shall be examined and it will be shown that through the implementation of principles ingrained in these doctrines can go a long way in solving the looming crisis in the Mekong Delta.
Indigenous people, human rights and relevance of Buddhism in the era of globalization: Issues, challenges and the way forward
Dr. Bir Pal Singh
Indigenous People/tribal people are the ethnic minorities all over the world with their distinct cultural identities. They are often termed as the native inhabitants of the area who are living there since time immemorial. With the advancement in communication and transport, these areas have been seen the entrance of alien people and the influence of alien cultures in the day-to-day affairs of tribal/indigenous people. This led to the degradation of their collective rights on land and forest, and on biodiversity and environment for sustainable and self-development. This is known fact that there exist a symbiotic relationship between the tribals and forest all over the world. Man is a social animal but always prefers natural environment for his life and living. His attachment with the nature not only related to satisfaction of his material needs but also his emotional bonds with the plants and trees in which he sees the images of gods and goddesses. Plants and trees have cultural importance for humans especially the tribal people as tribals are the real inhabitants of forest areas.
Violation of the human rights of indigenous people has been critical issues around the world. The impact of colonization, environmental degradation and threat to the indigenous cultural world view are on rise with the generating process of globalization. The process of globalization has both positive and negative effects on the interaction of diversified cultures of the people. In case of indigenous people, it is more about the adverse impact. Article 26 of the United Nations Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People 1994 has clearly mentioned that indigenous peoples have the right to own, develop, control and use the lands and territories, including the total environment of the lands, air, waters, coastal seas, sea-ice, flora and fauna and other resources which they have traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used.
The present paper seeks a critical observation on rights and identity place of indigenous people of Mekong Region especially in Thailand. The paper further focuses on the relevance of Buddhism in protecting and preserving the traditional identities of indigenous people in contemporary Thailand. The Northern Thailand is a home for ethnic minorities popularly known as hill tribes. The prejudices and discriminatory attitudes are hindering the mainstreaming of hill tribes in Northern Thailand.
The role of the Mekong Buddhism in leadership for social change in the Mekong region
As the region advances in every aspect of life, there has emerged social and moral deterioration. As a result, the region has experienced many social problems such as; child abuse, slavery, prostitution, wars. These have evidently led to moral degeneration even though the area has predominantly embraced and practiced Buddhism of both traditions Mahayana and Theravada. Above all, it might be customarily assumed that this has led to more controversies amongst the traditions. Hence, the exigency of understanding the subtleties of the region’s current social and moral deterioration and teaching Buddhist principles in fostering positive social change.
This paper attempts an explanation on the role of the Mekong Buddhism in leadership for social change in the Mekong region. This is geared towards fostering positive social changes based on Buddhist principles such as; behavior through attitude transformation, engaging mindfulness in social dealings cohesiveness and partnerships among individuals. Firstly, the study analyses the Mekong region’s current social and moral deteriorations and the need for transformation. The second part studies the shift in leadership patterns which is in relation to the Buddhist point of view and how can good Buddhist leadership effect an interconnected positive social change. Thirdly, the role of the Mekong Buddhism in attempts to bring about social changes is highly give immense priority in this research.
Role of tourism in promotion of Greater Mekong subregion
Globalization is not a one sided affair but more of a dialogue between the local and the international. This is a ‘bottom up’ approach, because it allows for influence from the ground up, and does not subsume local cultures into an unstoppable international cultural and economic steamroller. However, this depends on the stability, economic viability, and social cohesion of the local culture.
There is a need to examine the different policy approaches initiated by different bodies so as to anticipate both the problems and benefits of tourism development impacts particularly their effects on sustainability of local resources. Most development policies focus on physical infrastructure, business opportunities, and marketing. In addition, social and environmental impact assessments in tourism development are rarely acted upon, even where these matters are acknowledged as important in most documents and in various meetings among the private sector, government officials and international organizations. While increases in tourism demand are quite often good news economically, if the heritage resources upon which tourism is base are not carefullyprotected, regions are seriously at risk of losing them forever. There are by now some indications that unplanned tourism development policies have wrought irreversible damage to some of the most precious and irreplaceable heritage sites. This paper will attempt to ascertain the root causes of this common problem in the GMS. Participation in tourism planning policies, using Chiang Rai province, Northern Thailand as a study area, will be discussed to clarify alternative future approaches.
The “great circle” of Buddhism
Prof. Lewis Lancaster
This “Great Circle” encompassed the East, Central, and Southeast portions of Eurasia that mark a major boundary of culture, trade, religion, and political history. One arc of this “circle” is made up of the trade routes that moved up the Indus River and turned east toward the Han Chinese capital of Changan (Modern Xian). These particular routes were given the name of “Silk Road” in the 19th century and the name has become a major designation for them. Our texts have long taught that the “Silk Road” was the major link between the Han people and Rome, a system of caravan trade that stretched for thousands of miles between the two great empires. The implication behind this account is that light weight very expensive items (one being silk) were carried by camel relays from East Asia to the Mediterranean. The romance of this tale is very appealing and it has inspired books, movies, art, and in recent years tourism. The idea that there was a great track of routes across the continent filled with animals carrying silk directly from “China” to “Rome” cannot be maintained in the face of what we now know about mercantile activity. A camel can carry about 200 kilograms and the resources needed for thousands of miles and many weeks of travel would add enormous costs for those weights. By contrast, a ship in those days was able to hold up to 400 tons.
Perhaps the most important evidence of the lack of direct overland exchange between Rome and the Han dynasty is the fact that only a handful of Roman gold coins have been found at Xian, in contrast to the thousands that have to light in south India. Added to this is the recent discovery of 2,165 Chinese coins of the Song dynasty uncovered by archaeologists in Tamil Nadu. The number of coins from both Rome and China show us the importance of understanding the role of South India and Sri Lanka in any discussion of trade and cultural diffusion. These maritime routes were certainly not dominated by textiles; the range of products was much larger and perhaps the primary one was spice.
Atlas of maritime Buddhism an interim report
Prof. Lewis Lancaster
We have long recognized a problem in the study of the spread of Buddhism from its homeland throughout the whole of the eastern portion of Eurasia. In the absence of written documents for a traditional historical account of India, scholars fall back upon the written Chinese reports of travelers to India. These sparse sources are repeatedly referenced for the published discussions of Buddhism as it may have existed centuries ago. There is a non-trivial problem with a methodology that attempts to explain the history of Indian Buddhism viewed through the eyes of foreigners, especially when we are without locally written material. The foreign reports are memoirs of travelers, some who visited a site for a few days. Tourist scholarship may have some interesting facts to describe but it lacks the depth that we expect from historical accounts. Another approach for cultural and religious studies, where documentation in written form is missing, is to explore contemporary practices and use them to reconstruct the past. However, in India we are dealing with a situation where there is no received tradition of Buddhism. If we turn to near-by Sri Lanka or to Southeast Asia, where contemporary Buddhist communities exist, and assume that they are a reflection of the ancient Indian tradition, it is important to recognize definite limits to what can be surmised about activities two millennia ago. There have been changes over time that are significant and the resulting contemporary practices may well represent aspects that were not present in earlier centuries. Reconstructing the way Buddhism developed in its wide spread dissemination over long periods of time is complex at best, and close to impossible in certain respects.
The project called “Atlas of Maritime Buddhism” is one attempt to seek for new ways of approaching the study of the history and development of the tradition. It is a “trans-discipline” strategy. That is, we identify the problem of constructing the “story” of Buddhism where written documentation is missing. In the search for a solution to the problem, we call upon any resource, any discipline, any data to deal with the matter. There is no one discipline that can answer the call for a solution, certainly no one scholar can handle the breath of content and skills that are needed.
In lieu of written histories, we try to exploit records of all sorts and use them within the format of a digital and interactive “atlas”. Among these resources are: archaeological reports, anthropological studies, maps, inscriptions, land grant records, architecture, remote sensing data, climate cycles, minerals, mining sites, shipwrecks, ceramic kiln explorations, ship building, art and its iconography. The collection of the information is tagged with geo-spatial markup along with a timeline. In this way, the “atlas” becomes a portal for massive amounts of information that can be used in an attempt to reconstruct the story of Buddhism in India and beyond.
Maritime trade in Southeast Asia
Sometimes it takes a picture to help bring an idea to life. When discussing a trade route, a map enhances the conversation. Combining pictures of artifacts, along with a map of the locations where those artifacts were found, helps to build a stronger understanding of the interactions that occurred across the many maritime trade routes in early Southeast Asia. In these maps can be found the intersections, the locations where people from different cultures met. At these intersections products, ideas and religion were spread. Provided here is a very small portion of the work being used to contribute to the Atlas of Maritime Buddhism. Drawing from research on two separate locations, part of current day Myanmar and the Funan area in current day Vietnam, three areas of intersection are examined.
Researchers gathered evidence of trade in the form of documentation and supporting pictures of the items traded. A mapping tool was used to depict the potential route used to transport goods and people.
To provide an overview of the work in progress and some of the results, three locations have been selected to show potential intersections between two different areas. Each area will be briefly discussed with an emphasis on what was found, the time period represented and who might have transported it
The Kingdom of Funan
Thuy Loan Nguyen
The Funan Kingdom existed between the first and sixth century, CE and was located in Southeast Asia around the Mekong River delta. Paul Pelliot published a translation of Funan history that was considered an original source for decades after. One century later, Michael Vickery published an article to discuss reliable sources of Funan prehistory and history, some of which included archaeological evidence. Vickery’s discussion reveals the local ruler, the first king of Funan, as well as the capital. He also brings up valued theoretical history that sheds new light on Funan history.
The development of early Buddhism in red river delta basin- jiaozhi and southern china the case of a sogdian-jiaozhi Buddhist monk Kang Senghui
Ven. Thich Hang Dat
This paper will provide evidences of the great contributions to Early Chinese Buddhism of a Vietnamese-born Buddhist monk, Kang Senghui. He was: the first Buddhist monk to create a new tradition of worshiping Buddha’s relic in China; the first Buddhist monk to establish the first state-sponsored Buddhist temple and Buddhist sangha in Jian Ye (Southern China) during the Wu dynasty of the Three Kingdoms period; one of the first Buddhist apologetics in China in the light of the reappraisal of his role on Mouzi’s Li Huo Lun; one of the first Buddhist monks in China to create the tradition of writing prefaces and fanbai in Early Chinese Buddhism; the first meditation master in Southern China, as his explanations of meditation were recognized by the early Buddhist meditation tradition with some exceptional variances; the first Buddhist monk to create the “Wu scriptural idioms” through his implementation and modification of the Indian, Jiaozhi, and Chinese indigenous terminologies and principles into his Buddhist writings and translations; the first Buddhist monk to initiate the “matching the meaning” idea in China; the first Buddhist monk to harmonize the three major religions in China: Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism; the first Buddhist monk to initiate the approach of utilizing the teachings of Hinayana and Mahayana interchangeably and effectively in China; and the first Buddhist monk to advocate for Buddhist ethical principles as the ideal political models through his writings and translations.
Kang Senghui laid out a solid foundation for the development of Chinese Buddhism throughout its two thousand years of existence to the present. Without his enormous contributions, Chinese Buddhism might have developed in different directions from that of its historical existence. As a result, most Buddhist scholars from ancient to modern times universally recognize him as one of the founders of Chinese Buddhism.
The social structure of loving-kindness in Buddhist populations of the Mekong region (and neighbords): a sociological analysis
José A. Rodríguez Díaz, Dr., PhD
This paper analyzes values, positions and actions of Buddhist people in some countries of the Mekong Region, and in comparison with neighboring Buddhist countries. The analysis aims at understanding the peculiarities, the similarities and the differences of Buddhist people of different countries and regions, of different traditions. The objective is to uncover some of the social cognitive and action structures aimed at offering knowledge to deepen relations among Buddhist countries, especially within the Mekong Region.
It will focus on indicators (religious, cultural and social values, interaction, trust, action) regarding and towards others. In fact, Loving-Kindness, along with Compassion, Empathetic Joy and Equanimity (The Four Immeasurables) constitute a main avenue of values and practices towards the creation of harmonious relations with others, and within and between societies.
This paper empirically studies the positioning and practices of Buddhist people in the Mekong Region towards indicators of their contribution to a better world by focusing on the happiness and wellbeing of others and therefore facilitating harmony, dialogue and cooperation. That is to say building social capital, social cohesion and trust, and shaping social structures through their social action. The combination of systems of relations, of those values, attitudes and actions define the social field of Loving-Kindness. The map of the social field shows the essence of the social cultural identities of Buddhist people in the Mekong Region.
Buddhism in Thailand
Ven. Piyarathana Warukandeniya
The Mekong Region is as Buddhist region including different countries such as, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. In order to Mekong region there has great historical, religious and cultural background and one of them similarity and differences. Buddhism is the religion which belongs to each country. There is one of the important country known as, Thailand. Buddhism is one of the greatest, most important Buddhist centers of the world. Slightly more than 90 percent of the Thai population is Buddhists and one of the few countries where Buddhism still flourishes and exists as a living force.
Thailand is located in the region of one of the south- East Asian countries, which is situated right in the middle of thee indo-chines peninsula. To the north of Thailand are china and Laos, the latter being adjacent to north- east frontier. It is separated from Thailand by Cambodia and Vietnam. According to historical and archaeological evidence which tend to suggest that religion was introduced in to Thailand at four different stages. In this article, I try to explain in briefly understand the history and development the below the four periods. As follows:
01 Theravada tradion-3rd century B.C.
02 Mahayana Buddhism 7th century A.C.
03 Pukam (pagan) Theravada Buddhism in the 11th century A.D.
04 Lanka Theravada Buddhism 13th century A.D.
Eko Maggo, A positive approach for the people in the Mekong region
Most Ven. Dr. Thich Tam Duc
Humanity is currently witnessing a material world is going up but human morality is going down, a world full of uncertainty in many areas. All these turmoil phenomena are related to the states of mind or consciousness. Stress, a state of mental or emotional strain, has been linked to almost diseases in modern society: heart attack, cancer, high blood pressure, asthma, lupus, arthritis, diabetes, fibromyalgia, depression, dementia, suicide … Researches also discover that those diseases are the result of lifestyle rather than some outside influence.
Long ago, the Buddha said that there is this one way, monks, for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrows and griefs, for the going down of sufferings and miseries, for winning the right path, for releasing nibbāna, that is to say, the four applications of mindfulness…
In ancient India with the dedication of Ashoka the Great (304 – 232 BCE) to the propagation of Buddhism across Asia, from which people along the Mekong river did benefit; especially from Buddhist meditation.
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