Buddhism spreads from India to China

Buddha Statue in Pelkor Chodi Monastery, Gyantse, ChinaDuring the third century BCE, Buddhism was spread by Ashoka(BCE 270 - BCE 232), the third and the most powerful Mauryan emperor, who created the first pan-Indian empire. After the battle of Kalinga, Ashoka felt immense grief due to the huge loss of lives during the war and thus decided to follow the path of Buddhism. After this, he began to implement Buddhist principles in the administration of his kingdom and named the new code of conduct 'Dhamma'. Here, in order to inform everyone about his new political and ruling philosophy, he got edicts (proclamation) inscribed on stone pillars and placed them throughout his kingdom, which are present even today.

Ashoka not only helped in spreading the religion within India but outside India as well. The main reason for the spread of Buddhism into Southeast Asia was the support of the emperor Ashoka himself. Teams of missionaries were sent by him all over the Indian sub-continent, i.e. to Sri Lanka, Myanmar (Previous Burma), and other neighbouring areas so as to send the message of Buddhism. The missionaries sent by Ashoka to the other countries were well received by them and the conversions took place easily because of the influence and the personal power Ashoka exercised.

The spread of Buddhism in Sri Lanka
Ashoka’s most successful missions were headed by his son Mahindra, who travelled to Sri Lanka along with four other monks and a novice. This mission turned out to be so successful that the king of Sri Lanka himself became a Buddhist, and Mahindra then supervised the translation of the Theravada canon (written in the Pali language) into Sinhala, the Sri Lankan script. He also helped in finding a monastery named Mahavihara, which became the main supporter of the Theravadin orthodoxy in Sri Lanka for over 1, 000 years.

The spread of Buddhism in China
China recorded contact with Buddhism with the arrival of a Buddhist scholar, Bodhi Dharma, who travelled from India to China along with other monks in 475 CE. Bodhi Dharma introduced the teachings of the Buddha to the Chinese, who were influenced by the teachings. Buddhism and Chinese Taoism intermingled with one another, thereby resulting in the Ch'an school of Buddhism in China.

From the Central Asian kingdom of Kusha, in 148 BC, a monk named An Shih-kao, began translating Indian Buddhist texts into Chinese in Lo-yang, which later became the capital of the Han dynasty. During the next three decades, An Shih-kao and a number of other monks (mostly from Central Asia) translated about thirty Buddhist texts.

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During the last two years of the nineteen-eighties, Nepal's ties with its southern neighbor--India plummeted as the latter declined to renew the trade and transit treaties.

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