Recommended History Readings

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Recommended History Readings

Postby Indrajala » 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
Burjor Avari

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


Greater Magadha: Studies in the Culture of Early India
Johannes Bronkhorst

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




Buddhism in the Shadow of Brahmanism
Johannes Bronkhorst

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




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




Buddhism Under the T'ang
Stanley Weinstein

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


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



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



The History of Tibet (Three Volumes)
Alex McKay

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



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



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
http://histories.cambridge.org/collecti ... tory_japan
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

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Re: Recommended History Readings

Postby Sherlock » Sun Dec 02, 2012 12:51 pm

Geoffrey Samuel's The Origins of Yoga and Tantra is very interesting from what I've read on Google Books too. He treats both the early growth of renunciate traditions such as Buddhism and Jainism as well as the later developments of yoga and tantra.
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Re: Recommended History Readings

Postby Michael_Dorfman » Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:04 pm

Thomas McEvilley's The Shape of Ancient Thought does a wonderful job of laying out the interactions between Ancient Indian and Greek thought.
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Re: Recommended History Readings

Postby Yudron » Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:15 pm

Does Reader's Digest have versions of these books suitable for light-weight readers like me?

Huseng wrote: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
Burjor Avari

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


Greater Magadha: Studies in the Culture of Early India
Johannes Bronkhorst

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




Buddhism in the Shadow of Brahmanism
Johannes Bronkhorst

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




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




Buddhism Under the T'ang
Stanley Weinstein

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


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



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



The History of Tibet (Three Volumes)
Alex McKay

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



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



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
http://histories.cambridge.org/collecti ... tory_japan
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Re: Recommended History Readings

Postby viniketa » Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:49 pm

Brought-up by jeeprs on another thread, but worthy of inclusion here:

T R V Murti's The Central Philosophy of Buddhism: A Study of the Madhyamika System.
If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: Recommended History Readings

Postby Indrajala » Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:56 pm

Yudron wrote:Does Reader's Digest have versions of these books suitable for light-weight readers like me?


Wikipedia has a lot of the same information, though quality and readability may vary. :smile:
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

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Re: Recommended History Readings

Postby Sherlock » Mon Dec 03, 2012 3:22 pm

viniketa wrote:Brought-up by jeeprs on another thread, but worthy of inclusion here:

T R V Murti's The Central Philosophy of Buddhism: A Study of the Madhyamika System.


I've read that Murti is quite dated and has a heavy Vedantic bias.
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Re: Recommended History Readings

Postby JKhedrup » Mon Dec 03, 2012 5:06 pm

I am going to suggest some less academic works that contain valuable information but in the context of biographies, which are my passion when it comes to reading.

On the Tibetan side of things-

In The Fourteen Dalai Lamas, author Glenn H. Mullin vividly brings to life the myth and succession of all 14 Dalai Lamas in one volume for the first time. The book contains a chapter on each Dalai Lama (except Dalai Lamas 9-12, who are covered in one chapter). Each chapter opening features an illustration of the Dalai Lama who is the subject of that chapter. Mullin has also included characteristic excerpts from the Dalai Lamas' teachings, poetry, and other writings that illuminate the principles of Tibetan Buddhism expressed in their lives.
The 14th Dalai Lama, spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetans in exile, is well-known, but the 600-year tradition to which he is heir is less familiar. From the birth of the first Dalai Lama in a cowshed in 1391, each subsequent Dalai Lama has been the reincarnation of his predecessor, choosing to take up the burdens of a human life for the benefit of the Tibetan people. For almost six centuries, the Dalai Lamas have served as the Tibetans' spiritual leader and have held secular power for almost half that time. All the Dalai Lamas are revered as incarnations of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddhist deity of compassion, but each has been a unique individual with different abilities and temperaments.


The Story of Tibet: Conversations with the Dalai Lama
Over the course of three years, journalist Thomas Laird spent more than sixty hours with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in candid, one-on-one interviews that covered history, science, reincarnation, and Buddhism. Laird brings these meetings to life in rich, vibrant, and monumental work that outlines the essence of thousands of years of civilization, myth, and spirituality. Tibet’s story is rich with tradition and filled with promise.


And on the Chinese side of things-
Bones of the Master: A Journey to Secret Mongolia
In 1959 a young monk named Tsung Tsai (Ancestor Wisdom) escapes the Red Army troops that destroy his monastery, and flees alone three thousand miles across a China swept by chaos and famine. Knowing his fellow monks are dead, himself starving and hunted, he is sustained by his mission: to carry on the teachings of his Buddhist meditation master, who was too old to leave with his disciple.

Nearly forty years later Tsung Tsai — now an old master himself — persuades his American neighbor, maverick poet George Crane, to travel with him back to his birthplace at the edge of the Gobi Desert.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Recommended History Readings

Postby viniketa » Mon Dec 03, 2012 5:49 pm

Sherlock wrote:
viniketa wrote:Brought-up by jeeprs on another thread, but worthy of inclusion here:

T R V Murti's The Central Philosophy of Buddhism: A Study of the Madhyamika System.


I've read that Murti is quite dated and has a heavy Vedantic bias.


If you are looking for the latest academic references, it's not a good bet. If you want to understand Madhyamaka, it is good. As for the "Vedantic bias", that gets attached to anyone whose name is Indian. If placing the logical arguments of Buddhists in the larger context of Indian thought (including the views of Nāgārjuna's non-Buddhist opponents) is "Vedantic bias", then he is guilty as charged.

:namaste:
If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: Recommended History Readings

Postby kirti » Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:47 pm

Some important reading by Dr. Ambedkar who embraced with millions of Buddhist in India- These readings are published by Government of India and some by Columbia University

“An idea needs propagation as much as a plant needs watering.”
Bhimrao Ambedkar (1891–1956) Founding Father, modern India MA 1915, PhD 1927 LLD 1952 (hon.)
Ambedkar was a leader in the struggle for Indian independence, the architect of the new nation's constitution, and the champion of civil rights for the 60 million members of the "untouchable" caste, to which he belonged. He spoke and wrote ceaselessly on behalf of "untouchables," but his passion for justice was broad: in 1950 he resigned from his position as the country's first minister of law when Nehru's cabinet refused to pass the Women's Rights Bill. Ambedkar was committed to maintaining his independence, and many of the positions he staked out in a long and complex relationship with Gandhi—on the future of Hinduism, for example—remain central to debate within Indian society.
Ambedkar received a scholarship to Columbia from the Maharajah of Baroda. He earned his MA in 1915 and then obtained a DSc at the London School of Economics before being awarded his Columbia PhD in 1927. In 1952, Columbia presented him with an honorary doctorate for his service as "a great social reformer and a valiant upholder of human rights." In 1995, a bronze bust of Ambedkar was donated to Lehman Library by the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organizations of the United Kingdom.
At Columbia, Ambedkar studied under John Dewey, who inspired many of his ideas about equality and social justice. Ambedkar later recounted that at Columbia he experienced social equality for the first time. "The best friends I have had in my life," he told the New York Times in 1930, "were some of my classmates at Columbia and my great professors, John Dewey, James Shotwell, Edwin Seligman, and James Harvey Robinson."

Decline and fall of Buddhism in India
http://www.ambedkar.org/ambcd/19A.Revol ... RT%20I.htm
http://www.ambedkar.org/ambcd/19B.Revol ... T%20II.htm

Buddha and his dhamma
http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/prit ... index.html

Annihilation of Caste
http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/prit ... 0ambedkar/

Buddha or Marx
http://www.ambedkar.org/ambcd/20.Buddha ... 20Marx.htm

Riddles
http://www.ambedkar.org/riddleinhinduis ... RT%20I.htm
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Re: Recommended History Readings

Postby tobes » Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:54 am

viniketa wrote:
Sherlock wrote:
viniketa wrote:Brought-up by jeeprs on another thread, but worthy of inclusion here:

T R V Murti's The Central Philosophy of Buddhism: A Study of the Madhyamika System.


I've read that Murti is quite dated and has a heavy Vedantic bias.


If you are looking for the latest academic references, it's not a good bet. If you want to understand Madhyamaka, it is good. As for the "Vedantic bias", that gets attached to anyone whose name is Indian. If placing the logical arguments of Buddhists in the larger context of Indian thought (including the views of Nāgārjuna's non-Buddhist opponents) is "Vedantic bias", then he is guilty as charged.

:namaste:


I think that's quite an unfair claim - he gets charged with a Vedantic bias because he articulates emptiness to be the sole non-dual absolute reality behind appearances. That is, he (mis) reads Madhyamaka as an idealist philosophy, and like Stcherbatsky similarly gets charged with a transcendental idealism bias. It is no accident that he has a chapter on Kant and Hegel in that text. Scholarship has come a very long way.

Having said that, it is a creative, interesting and productive misreading.

I wouldn't read it for history though....
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Re: Recommended History Readings

Postby BrianG » Mon Sep 02, 2013 10:09 am

Indian Esoteric Buddhism: Social History of the Tantric Movement
Ronald M. Davidson

Despite the rapid spread of Buddhism the historical origins of Buddhist thought and practice remain obscure.This work describes the genesis of the Tantric movement and in some ways an example of the feudalization of Indian society. Drawing on primary documents from sanskrit, prakrit, tibetan, Bengali, and chinese author shows how changes in medieval Indian society, including economic and patronage crises, a decline in women`s participation and the formation of large monastic orders led to the rise of the esoteric tradition in India.

http://books.google.co.th/books/about/Indian_Esoteric_Buddhism.html?id=n_VquVQvnBwC&redir_esc=y


Just finished this one, well written and well researched.
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Re: Recommended History Readings

Postby tingdzin » Wed Jan 29, 2014 7:47 am

A caveat: Davidson's book is kind of controversial. He clearly has some axes to grind.
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