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date: 26 September 2023

Patronage of Buddhist Monasteries in Eastern India (600–1300 ce)locked

Patronage of Buddhist Monasteries in Eastern India (600–1300 ce)locked

  • Suchandra GhoshSuchandra GhoshDepartment of Ancient Indian History and Culture, University of Calcutta


A region-wise study of patronage to Buddhist monasteries (mahāvihāra, vihāra, and vihārikā) in eastern India (Bihar and West-Bengal in India, and Bangladesh) in the early medieval period, is possible taking recourse to extant remains, epigraphical and textual mentions, and art historical representations. Scholars have extensively studied the major monasteries individually, where the issue of patronage was addressed along with other themes. However, the lifeline of these monasteries were benefactions from various categories of people, and so the issue of patronage becomes singularly important. These monasteries, particularly in south Bihar and north Bengal it seems, were connected in a network of relations that provided mobility between them. Since the region was under the single political rule of the Pālas, movement was easier. The donative records demonstrate that donors came from faraway places as well as from contiguous territories. The pattern of patronage that can be discerned from the study of the inscriptions of the Pāla rulers indicates that both the royalty and their subordinates were engaged in founding and then overseeing the upkeep of the Buddhist establishments. Patronage could be in the form of building the different categories of monasteries or other forms of structures within the precincts of a monastery. From the 9th to the 12th centuries ce a spurt of building activities took place. The religious merit that accrued from these donations was surely coveted by all, irrespective of their political and social position. With religious merit, the added attraction was recognition, prestige, and in some cases legitimacy.


  • Buddhism

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