Material Buddhism: Archaeology, Context, and Religious Change in Bodhgaya


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Research Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


Religious Studies


Focused on the site of Bodhgaya, the book investigates the relationships between the Buddhist monastic institutions and the surrounding settlements, polities, and other religions to study the expansion and transformation of Buddhism. Through newly documented archaeological remains in Bodhgaya and the Gaya district, it critiques three dominant ideas in the Buddhist historiography: 1) that Buddhism, being a monastic religion, was confined to monastic precincts and never developed a sustainable social base beyond urban centers; 2) Buddhist sangha was dependent exclusively on the royal and mercantile patronage for their sustenance; and 3) Buddhist sangha was a passive institution that failed to respond to challenges from Brahmana and other religious traditions, which led to its decline.