Rethinking Buddhist Decline in India: A Microregional Study of Nalanda During the Second Millennium CE


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


South Asia Regional Studies


This dissertation challenges prevailing narratives surrounding the alleged decline of Buddhism in medieval India, rejecting the notion of an abrupt end in the thirteenth century CE. It follows a microregional approach, presenting the Nalanda-Bihar-Sharif—NBS—region in eastern India as a case study to systematically critique traditional explanations rooted in text-heavy approaches. It challenges simplistic, monolithic views of religions, showcasing transformations in the built landscape across existing and newly introduced traditions in a changing socio-political environment in the NBS region from the fourteenth century onward. Ultimately, the dissertation reconstructs a longue durée history of medieval Buddhism in eastern India, combining an archaeological approach with reassessment of texts and inscriptions.