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Buddhism in Southeast Asia

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The 9th century BorobudurBuddhist stupa in Central Java

Buddhism in Southeast Asia refers to the forms of Buddhism which have flourished
in Southeast Asia since ancient times. Historically,Mahyna Buddhism had a prominent
position in this region, but in modern times most countries follow
the Theravda tradition. Southeast Asian countries with a Theravda Buddhist majority
are Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Burma.
Vietnam continues to have a Mahyna majority due to Chinese influence.
Indonesia was Mahyna Buddhist since the time of
theSailendra and Srivijaya empires,[2] but now Mahyna Buddhism in Indonesia is now
largely practiced by the Chinese diaspora, as inSingapore and Malaysia.
Mahyna Buddhism is the predominant religion of most Chinese communities
in Singapore. In Malaysia, Brunei, Philippines andIndonesia, it remains a strong minority.

1 History

1.1 Early traditions

1.2 The Khmer Empire and Srivijaya

1.3 Conversions to Theravda

1.4 Vietnamese traditions

2 Modern traditions of Buddhism

3 See also

4 References

5 External links


Main article: History of Buddhism Southeast Asia

Further information: Indianized kingdom, Srivijaya, Khmer Empire and Buddhism in

Cambodian statue ofAvalokitevara Bodhisattva. Sandstone, 7th century CE

Vietnamese Buddhistmonks holding a service inHu

Early traditions[edit]
Buddhism reached Southeast Asia both directly over sea from India and indirectly from
Central Asia and China in a process that spanned most of the first millennium CE.
Before the 12th century, the areas of Thailand, Burma, Laos, and Cambodia were
dominated by various Buddhist sects from India, and these included the teachings of
Mahyna Buddhism.[3][4] In the 7th century, Yijing noted in his travels that in these
areas, all major sects of Indian Buddhism flourished.[3]

The Khmer Empire and Srivijaya[edit]

During the 5th to 13th centuries, The Southeast Asian empires were influenced directly
from India, so that these empires essentially followed the Mahyna tradition.
The Srivijaya Empire to the south and the Khmer Empire to the north competed for
influence, and their art expressed the rich Mahyna pantheon of bodhisattvas.

Srivijaya, a maritime empire centered at Palembang on the island

of Sumatra in Indonesia, adopted Mahyna and Vajrayna Buddhism under a line of
rulers named the Sailendras. Yijing described Palembang as a great centre of Buddhist
learning where the emperor supported over a thousand monks at his court. Yijing also
testified to the importance of Buddhism as early as the year 671 and advised future
Chinese pilgrims to spend a year or two in Palembang.[5] Srivijaya declined due to
conflicts with the Chola rulers of India, before being destabilized by the Islamic
expansion from the 13th century.
From the 9th to the 13th centuries, the Mahyna Buddhist and Hindu Khmer Empire
dominated ( ) much of the Southeast Asian peninsula. (
) Under the
Khmer, more than 900 temples were built in Cambodia and in neighboring
Thailand. Angkor was at the center of this development ( ) , with
a temple complex ( ) and urban ( ) organization able ( ) to support
around one million urban dwellers ( ).

Conversions to Theravda[edit]
Though ( ) there are some early accounts
( ) that have been interpreted ( ) as Theravda in Burma, the
surviving ( ) records show that most Burmese Buddhism incorporated
( ) Mahyna, and used Sanskrit rather ( ) than Pali.[4][6][7] After
the decline ( ) of Buddhism in India, missions of monks from Sri Lanka

gradually ( ) converted Burmese Buddhism to Theravda, and in the next two

centuries also brought Theravda Buddhism to the areas of Thailand, Laos, and
Cambodia, where it supplanted ( ) previous forms (
) of

Vietnamese traditions[edit]
Buddhism in Vietnam as practiced by the Vietnamese is mainly of Mahyna tradition.
Buddhism came from Vietnam as early as the 2nd century CE through the North from
Central Asia via India. Vietnamese Buddhism is very similar ( ) to Chinese
buddhism and to some extent ( ) reflects ( ) the structure
( ) of Chinese Buddhism after the Song Dynasty.

Modern traditions of Buddhism[edit]

Novice monks in Burma

Thai Buddhist monks on pilgrimage

Currently, there is around 190-205 million Buddhists in Southeast Asia, making it the
second largest religion in the region, after Islam. Thus, around 35 to 38% of the global
Buddhist population resides (
) in Southeast Asia.

Thailand has the largest number of Buddhists with approximately ( )

95% of its population of 67 million adhering to Buddhism, placing it at around 63.75

Myanmar has around 59 million Buddhists, with 89% of its 66 million citizens
practicing Theravada Buddhism.[11][12] Around 1% of the population, mainly
( ) the Chinese, practice Mahayana Buddhism alongside ( ) Taoism,
but are strongly influenced by Theravada Buddhism.

Vietnam may have a large number of Buddhists, but the Communist government
under-reports the religious adherence of its citizens. It has around 44 million
Buddhists, around half its population.[13][14] The majority of Vietnamese people
practice Mahayana Buddhism due to the large amount of Chinese influence (

95% of Cambodia's population adheres to Theravada Buddhism, placing

( ) its Buddhist population at around 14 million.[16]

Malaysia has about 20% of its citizens, mainly ethnic Chinese, with significant
( ) numbers of ethnic Thais, Khmers, Sinhalese and migrant workers,
practicing Buddhism. The Chinese mainly practice Mahayana Buddhism, but due to
the efforts ( ) of Sinhalese monks, Theravada also enjoys a significant

Communist Laos has around 5 million Buddhists, who form roughly ( )

70% of its population.[19][20]

Indonesia has around 4.75 million Buddhists (2% of its population), mainly
amongst its Chinese population. Most Indonesian Buddhists adhere to Theravada
Buddhism, mainly of the Thai tradition.[21]

Singapore have around 2 million Buddhists, forming ( ) around 33% of their

populations respectively.[22] Singapore has the most vibrant ( ) Buddhist
scene ( ) with all three major traditions having large followings. Mahayana
Buddhism has the largest presence ( ) amongst the Chinese, while many
immigrants from countries such as Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka practice
Theravada Buddhism.[23]

Philippines have around the 2% of the total population or around 2 millions. All
the important schools of Buddhism are well represented ( ) in
Philippines although it is predominantly ( ) Mahayana School of Buddhism
that is practised in the country. Other Schools of Buddhism are also making their
presence ( ) felt ( ) gradually () amongst the people.
Prime ( ) amongst these are - Nichiren Buddhism, Thervada Buddhism and
Vajrayana Buddhism.

Brunei, which has the smallest population in Southeast Asia, has around 13% [24] of
its citizens and a significant ( ) migrant (

) worker population adhering ( ) to
Buddhism, at around 65,000.[25]