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Journal Articles Buddhism, Law and Society Year : 2023

Buddhist Vihāras in Early Medieval Bengal

Ryosuke Furui

Abstract

From the first epigraphic references in the early sixth century, the Buddhist vihāras in Bengal emerged as institutions with extensive landholdings, crucially depending on patronage from temporal powers. In the seventh and eighth centuries, they accumulated more landholdings as widely scattered land plots, a process facilitated by the growth of sub-regional kingships with several layers of rulers and the emergence of stratified land relations engendering tenurial rights. Vihāras also underwent an organizational development that was required for the management of large landholdings. In the ninth and tenth centuries, Buddhist vihāras flourished under regional kingships establishing ever stronger territorial control. The royal patronage conferred on them access to extensive resources and powers in the donated tracts, but also opened a door to political interference and made them a focus of power struggles between kings and their subordinate rulers. The accounts of the Chinese monk Yijing on the practices followed at vihāras in eastern India in the late seventh century complement the picture that can be sketched from the epigraphic sources, with more information on management of landholdings and administration.

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History Religions
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hal-04100180 , version 1 (30-05-2023)

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  • HAL Id : hal-04100180 , version 1

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Ryosuke Furui. Buddhist Vihāras in Early Medieval Bengal: Organizational Development and Historical Context. Buddhism, Law and Society, 2023, 7 (2021-2022), pp.99-142. ⟨hal-04100180⟩

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