Foreword by R.C. Agrawal
Sixth century BCE was a remarkable period for the spiritual and intellectual ferment in many countries. In China we had Lao Tzu and Confucius, in Greece Permenides and Empedocles, in Persia Zarathustra, and in India Mahavir and the Buddha. In that period these remarkable teachers worked upon their inheritance and developed new points of view and laid the foundation of ideologies for the well-being of the humanity. Gautam Buddha, the tathagat, showed a new path of karuna (compassion) which paved the way for a new religion - Buddhism. The religion and philosophy of the Buddha spread far and wide and covered larger part of Asia. Today the larger part of South Asia consists of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It is home to about 24 per cent of world population and forms the Buddhist heartland of all major historical sites connected with the life of Buddha. Likewise China with about 19.4 per cent of the world population has a long history of Buddhist art and architecture.
With a view to promote studies and research into Buddhist heritage of South Asia and China, the interested scholars conceptualized and constituted the Society for Buddhist Art and Archaeology (SBAA) in 2014, which organized its first International Conference in Delhi in collaboration with India International Centre (IIC)-Asia Project, the Rock Art Society of India and supported by Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR), Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), and the Institute of Archaeology. The Society also received support from subject experts: Dr B.M. Pande, former Director, Archaeological Survey of India; Prof. Himanshu Prabha Ray, former Chairperson, National Monument Authority, Government of India; Dr B.R. Mani, former Additional Director General, ASI, and now Director General, National Museum; Dr S.K. Aruni, Member Secretary, ICHR; Dr Achal Pandya, Director, Conservation Laboratory, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Art, and many friends and well-wishers.
The Society also received good wishes from Prof. Lokesh Chandra, President ICCR, Dr Kapila Vatsyayan, Chairperson IIC-Asia Project, Prof. Y.S. Rao, Chairman ICHR, and Dr Rakesh Tiwari, DG, ASI. The Conference was themed to focus on Buddhist Monasteries of South Asia and China in which delegates from China, USA, Nepal, UK and from various academic institutions of India participated. Select scholarly contributions at the Conference are incorporated in the succeeding pages.
I thank Dr Sanjay Garg, Joint General Secretary of the SBAA, for meticulously editing the papers and Shri Ramesh Jain, owner of the Manohar Publishers & Distributors, New Delhi for bringing out this volume in time.