via Sunday Observer, 30 July 2023: Recent archaeological studies on the Avalokitesvara Survey Project in Sri Lanka have revealed the influence of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara on the region’s 7th-10th century trade networks, with shrines serving as major hubs along the Maritime Silk Road.
The most important discovery was an eighth to tenth-century stone inscription of the Vajradhatu-mandala in Anuradhapura correctly identified by Kellie Powell (UC Berkeley), Sri Lanka, indicating the widespread practice of Vajrayana Buddhism in the region. Consecration rituals featuring pancabuddha Vajradhatu mandalas were used to sanctify important Buddhist sites like the Abhayagiri Stupa. Sri Lankan practitioners were knowledgeable in the Sarvatathagatatattvasamgraha, and there were maritime contacts between Sri Lanka and Cambodia related to the worship of Avalokitesvara.
Maritime trade routes facilitated the introduction and exchange of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism among Sri Lanka, India, Southeast Asia, and China. The visit of Vajrabodhi from Sri Lanka to China and the presence of Sinhalese bhikkhunees in China led to significant religious exchanges.