Buddhism in Bali

Much attention has been given to how far west Buddhism extended in ancient times. The most westerly Buddhist monument that can be identified is the foundations of a large stupa in the south east corner of the ancient citadel of Khiva in Turkmenistan. Small communities of Buddhists may have existed beyond this but if they did they would have been insignificant, isolated and exceptional. We can say therefore that the outer edge of Buddhism in the west was what is now eastern Iran. But how far to the east did Buddhism spread its gentle and civilizing influence? To the outer islands of Indonesia, to Australia or perhaps beyond? In the 1920s a superb bronze bust of the Buddha was found on Sulawesi, one of the larger islands that make up Indonesia. This is the eastern most point that any Buddhist antiquity has ever been found. There is, though, no evidence of an enduring Buddhist presence either on Sulawesi or beyond it; no ruined temples or monasteries, no inscriptions or references to it in the historical records. However, only a few hundred miles south-west of Sulawesi is the small island of Bali where archaeological, epigraphically and literary evidence shows that Buddhism existed there alongside Hinduism for about seven hundred years.



Leave a Reply