Social Scientist. v 5, no. 51 (Oct 1976) p. 3.

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Buddhism and Politics in South-east Asia


THE POINT of view developed in this article is sociological, of how in various societies religious and political systems arc interrelated in mutual dependence and why this is so. Although it means falling back on history as a basis,, the logic followed is not chronological but of interrelations. However it is in terms of a historical perspective essential for understanding the present that the subject matter is divided.

South-east Asia, and Sri Lanka in south Asia, fall within the compass of this study. Apart from Vietnam, all profess Theravada Buddhism, a legacy of the Hindu kingdoms which emerged from the colonization with its origin in north India and extending as far as the Champa kingdom in Vietnam. The conquest of Sri Lanka took place sometime before the third century before Christ. In Burma, Indian colonization started in the first century of the Christian era and in Thailand and Java in the second. The kingdom of Fu-nan was established in the first century, distinctly marking the Indian presence in Cambodia. In the fourth century, colonization spread to Malaysia and a Hindu kingdom was founded in Sumatra. While Laos remained within the Khmer or Thai spheie of influence late into the thirteenth century after Christ, Borneo and Ball came under Hindu monarchies in the fifth and sixth centuries. As for Ghampa, the first Hindu dynasty dates from the second century A D.

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