Buddhist Heritage of S E Asia

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The philosophy of Buddhism, was accepted with open arms wherever it went.   It is a philosophy which looks always beyond the material aims of life to the   eternal. Early Theravada Buddhism traveled in the 3rd century BC to Sri Lanka   and to other countries of South-east Asia. In the First millennium AD, Mahayana   and Vajrayana Buddhism spread to Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, China, Tibet,   Korea and finally to Japan and the northern countries of Asia.

Since ancient times, great sea-faring ships carried trade goods between   Indonesia, India and China. Archaeological remains in Indonesia have confirmed   close interactions with India which existed over 2,000 years ago.

In the First Millennium, Chinese pilgrims traveled by sea and by land to   the holy places of Buddhism in India. When they used the sea route, they spent   much time in Indonesia, which had great ports. They have written considerably   about the Indonesia of that time. Hinduism existed here in early times and   Buddhism flourished from the 7th century onwards. Till today, the great epic of   ethics the Ramayana is the most important cultural tradition of Indonesia. It   may have arrived here by the 5th century. It is wonderful to see a Ramayana   performance in Java, where the actors, the director, the narrator and all others   are Muslim.

To read article in PDF format. Also see Pictures of Indian   influence on S.E.Asia in the same section.