torsdag 21. januar 2021

‘Journey to the West’: The Buddhist Reimagination of China

In Sanskrit, the term Nirvanaliterally means transcendence. A Buddhist concept, it is also closely related to the Hindu idea of Moksa, meaning liberation or salvation. But just as the Silk Road is not about silk – many other goods were traded through it and China was not always the provider of these goods – the Nirvana Route, the concept I discuss here, is not just about Nirvana.

The Nirvana Route captures the story of the spread of Buddhism from India to China (and then to Korea and Japan), and that of Hinduism and Buddhism to Southeast Asia. It also harks back to the encounters in literature, arts, trade and politics, for a millennium and a half, from the first century to the 16th century AD – encounters that laid the cultural foundations of modern Asia.