Early Thai Religion

L.S.Cousins selwyn at NTLWORLD.COM
Fri May 19 17:14:28 UTC 2000

Dear Ven. Tantra,

>Might any list members be able to offer data on Early
>Thai Religion? I am particularly interested in the
>southern Isthums of Kra region from the 8th to 12th
>Up to now, all I could find is:
>1) Chirapravati, Pattaratorn. =ECThe Cult of Votive
>Tablets in Thailand (6th to 13th centuries)=EE (Ph.D.
>diss., Cornell University, 1994); and

This was new to me; so in return:

Skilling, Peter, "The Advent of Theravaada Buddhism to Mainland
South-east Asia," Journal of the International Association of
Buddhist Studies , 20, 1, 1997, 93-107.

Skilling, Peter, "New Paali Inscriptions from South-east Asia,"
Journal of the Pali Text Society , XXIII, 1997, 123-158.

Information about Buddhist schools could have important implications
for the study of the Buddhist schools in India; so this is not really

>According to her thesis, every tablet contains an idea
>of the particular sect it represents.

One has to have doubts here. It is extremely difficult to identify =

specific schools on the basis of archaeological data unless there are =

actually named inscriptions.

>highly evolved modes of religious statuary. Chinese
>records, local inscriptions and archaeological remains
>show that from the end of the 7th through the 11th
>century the Mahayanic Maadhyamika and Caityaka (or
>Mahaasa=96ghika)  schools were especially active along
>the southern Isthmus coasts.

In fact Indian inscriptions which were originally taken as =

identifying the Caityaka school (cetiyava.mdaka or similar) are now =

considered simply to refer to worshippers of cetiyas i.e. stuupas. So =

one would want fairly solid evidence for the presence of a Caityaka =


>So were the Pure Land
>cults of Avalokitezvara and Amitaabha, which spread
>from China southward. The Pure Land cult was dominant
>there from the 8th to 11th century. Khmer-influenced
>sculptures of Avalokitezvara and Maitreya dating from
>the 7th to 9th century were found further north in
>Lopburi (an old Mon capital) and in villages around
>Nakhon Ratchasima and Buriram in the region known
>today as northeastern Thailand.

This may be correct, but sculptures of Avalokite"svara are found  in =

many locations e.g. Ceylon. So that and the use of Sanskrit may =

sometimes simply evidence the presence of other forms of Theravaada =

from there. All this data requires a lot of care in its use.

Lance Cousins
-- =


selwyn at ntlworld.com

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