Jens-Uwe Hartmann: "Monks and Merchants: How to spread Buddhism"
Shinnyo-en Visiting Professor Lecture
The exact date of the Buddha is unknown, but the stone inscriptions of the famous emperor Aśoka prove the existence of Buddhism in the middle of the 3rd century BCE, and they already indicate its wide spread. One or two centuries later the earliest Buddhist archaeological remains add another amazing dimension to this picture: they reveal a network of stupas, huge constructions that were often adorned with splendid stone carvings. The erection of such buildings and their decoration must have required enormous sponsorship. Obviously Buddhism offered strong incentives to elicit such generous donations, and it appears that from the earliest days onwards merchants played an important part as supporters of the word of the Buddha and its spread throughout India and beyond.
Jens-Uwe Hartmann received his PhD in Indology from the University of Munich in 1984. In 1995 he became Professor of Tibetology at the Humboldt University in Berlin and in 1999 Professor of Indology at the University of Munich. His research focuses on the recovery of Indian Buddhist literature from ancient manuscripts and from Chinese and Tibetan translations. Most of his publications are concerned with manuscript collections and with the study and edition of Indic Buddhist texts.