The Indian Heritage Centre in Singapore is hosting a series of online seminars around their 2019 book Sojourners to Settlers – Tamils in Southeast Asia and Singapore. The first talk on Saturday, 26 September is by Prof. John Miksic. Registration required through the link below.
Buddhism was practiced in Southeast Asia by the 3rd century CE. Early Buddhist statuary has been found in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, which is associated in Chinese sources with the kingdom of Funan. Buddhist artefacts including inscriptions and architecture appeared soon after in west Java (Cibuaya) and the Malay Peninsula (Bujang Valley, Kedah). In the late 7th century CE Buddhism was predominant in the kingdoms of Dvaravati in what is now Thailand, and Srivijaya in Sumatra. In the late 8th century CE the Sailendra dynasty in Java founded one of the greatest works of Buddhist art and architecture, the temple-mountain of Borobudur. This temple served as a framework for 1,350 reliefs depicting five Buddhist texts. The designers of Borobudur devoted the greatest share of the reliefs to the Gandavyuha, in which the Bodhisattva Manjusri plays a leading role. He meets with a young boy in south India and guides him along the path to enlightenment by introducing him to a series of teachers.
The port of Nagapattinam in south India was one of the main centres of Buddhist activity in the late first millennium CE.An inscription known as the Larger Leiden copper plates issued by Rajaraja Chola (985-1014 CE) records a Budddhist temple erected by a king from Kedah, Maravijayottunkavarman. Rajaraja granted the revenues of a village to a vihara there. The Lesser Leiden copper plates of Kulothunga Chola I (c. 1070-1122) dated 1090 CE records an exemption from certain taxes to the villages of two Buddhist shrines at Nagapattinam at the request of the ambassadors of the king of Kedah. This is one of the clearest pieces of evidence for the important role of Tamils in the evolution of Buddhism in Southeast Asia.