Recommended History Readings
Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:51 am
Please post some works on history that you feel would benefit one's understanding of the greater context in which Buddhism developed across Asia. Here are a few that I recommend.
India: the ancient past: a history of the Indian sub-continent from c. 7000 BC to AD 1200
This carefully crafted study presents the fascinating story of the development and establishment of India's culture and civilization from early pre-history through to the early second millennium.
Encompassing topics such as the Harappan Civilization, the rise of Hindu culture, the influx of Islam in the eighth and the eleventh/twelfth centuries and key empires, states and dynasties, India: The Ancient Past engages with methodological and controversial issues.
Key features of this illustrated guide include:
a range of maps illustrating different temporal and geographical regions
selected source extracts at the end of each chapter, for review and reflection
questions for discussion.
This book provides comprehensive coverage of the political, spiritual, cultural and geographical history of India, making it an enriching read for anyone with an interest in this captivating period of history.
http://books.google.com/books?id=Y1e2V_4Um10" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Greater Magadha: Studies in the Culture of Early India
Greater Magadha, roughly the eastern part of the Gangetic plain of northern India, has so far been looked upon as deeply indebted to Brahmanical culture. Religions such as Buddhism and Jainism are thought of as derived, in one way or another, from Vedic religion. This belief is defective in various respects. This book argues for the importance and independence of Greater Magadha as a cultural area until a date close to the beginning of the Common Era. In order to correct the incorrect notions, two types of questions are dealt with: questions pertaining to cultural and religious dependencies, and questions relating to chronology. As a result a modified picture arises that also has a bearing on the further development of Indian culture.
http://books.google.com.tw/books?id=4GNG5KuH73QC" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Buddhism in the Shadow of Brahmanism
This book deals with the confrontation of Buddhism and Brahmanism in India. Both depended on support from the royal court, but Buddhism had less to offer in return than Brahmanism. Buddhism developed in a manner to make up for this.
http://books.google.com.tw/books?id=BaX58-E5-3MC" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
The Spread of Buddhism
Ann Heirman, Stephan Peter Bumbacher
In no region of the world Buddhism can be seen as a unified doctrinal system. It rather consists of a multitude of different ideas, practices and behaviours. Geographical, social, political, economic, philosophical, religious, and also linguistic factors all played their role in its development and spread, but this role was different from region to region. Based on up-to-date research, this book aims at unraveling the complex factors that shaped the presence of particular forms of Buddhism in the regions to the north and the east of India. The result is a fascinating view on the mechanisms that allowed or hampered the presence of (certain aspects of) Buddhism in regions such as Central Asia, China, Tibet, Mongolia, or Korea.
http://books.google.com/books?id=kr_M1e7yImoC" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Buddhism Under the T'ang
Buddhism Under the Tang is a history of the Buddhist Church during the T'ang dynasty (618-907), when Buddhist thought reached the pinnacle of its development. The three centuries spanned by the T'ang saw the formation of such important philosophical schools as the Fa-hsiang and Hua-yen, the consolidation of the T'ien-t'ai school, the introduction of Esoteric Buddhism from India, and the emergence of the Pure Land and Chan schools as the predominant expressions of Buddhist faith and practice. Professor Weinstein draws extensively upon both secular and ecclesiastical records to chronicle the vicissitudes of the Buddhist Church. The main focus is on the constantly changing relationship between the Buddhist Church and the T'ang state. Among the topics discussed in detail are the various attempts to curb the power of the Buddhist monasteries, the governance of the Buddhist clergy, the use of Buddhism to promote secular political ends, and the violent suppression of Buddhism by Emperor Wu (840-846) and its formal restoration under the last T'ang emperor.
http://books.google.com/books?id=8r1qPwAACAAJ&dq" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
China's Cosmopolitan Empire: The Tang Dynasty
Mark Edward Lewis
The Tang dynasty is often called China's "golden age"; a period of commercial, religious, and cultural connections from Korea and Japan to the Persian Gulf, and a time of unsurpassed literary creativity. Mark Lewis captures a dynamic era in which the empire reached its greatest geographical extent under Chinese rule, painting and ceramic arts flourished, women played a major role both as rulers and in the economy, and China produced its finest lyric poets in Wang Wei, Li Bo, and Du Fu.
http://books.google.com/books?id=vpgVvAh2_EsC" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Imperial China: 900-1800
F. W. Mote
This is a history of China for the 900-year time span of the late imperial period. A senior scholar of this epoch, F. W. Mote highlights the personal characteristics of the rulers and dynasties and probes the cultural theme of Chinese adaptations to recurrent alien rule. No other work provides a similar synthesis: generational events, personalities, and the spirit of the age combine to yield a comprehensive history of the civilization, not isolated but shaped by its relation to outsiders.
This vast panorama of the civilization of the largest society in human history reveals much about Chinese high and low culture, and the influential role of Confucian philosophical and social ideals. Throughout the Liao Empire, the world of the Song, the Mongol rule, and the early Qing through the Kangxi and Qianlong reigns, culture, ideas, and personalities are richly woven into the fabric of the political order and institutions. This is a monumental work that will stand among the classic accounts of the nature and vibrancy of Chinese civilization before the modern period.
http://books.google.com/books?id=SQWW7QgUH4gC" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
The History of Tibet (Three Volumes)
This major work provides a virtually complete resource base for the academic study of Tibetan social, political, and religious history, including the development of our understanding of the reality behind the colourful images of Tibet as 'Shangri-La'. This work will thus be of particular interest to libraries, and to lecturers, students and enthusiasts seeking to understand the development of the unique culture of this remarkable land.
http://books.google.com/books?id=l6eTjiivK-UC" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
A History of Japanese religion
Kazuō Kasahara, Paul McCarthy, Gaynor Sekimori
Seventeen distinguished experts on Japanese religion provide a fascinating overview of its history and development. Beginning with the origins of religion in primitive Japanese society, they chart the growth of each of Japan's major religious organizations and doctrinal systems. They follow Buddhism, Shintoism, Christianity, and popular religious belief through major periods of change to show how history and religion affected each-and discuss the interactions between the different religious traditions.
http://books.google.com.tw/books?id=GfUQAQAAIAAJ" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
The Cambridge History of Japan
The Cambridge History of Japan is a multi-volume survey of Japanese history published by Cambridge University Press (CUP). This was the first major collaborative synthesis presenting the current state of knowledge of Japanese history. The series aims to present as full a view of Japanese history as possible. The collaborative work brings together the writing of Japanese specialists and historians of Japan.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cambri ... y_of_Japan" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://histories.cambridge.org/collecti ... tory_japan" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;