Lecture 12. Pilgrimage in the Medieval World

Two main types of structures associated with Buddhism—the vihara (place of congregation and idol worship) and the stupa (reliquary). Stupa is a place for the storage and veneration of relics associated with the Buddha’s and his disciples bodies. Rituals such as circumambulation define structures such as the stupa. Relics (such as miniature models of the Mahaboddhi temple) proliferate throughout the medieval Buddhist world. Xuanzang travels to India in the 7th cen. to find the “authentic” source of Buddhism, however, with the decline of Buddhism in India after the 13th century, China, Burma, and Sri Lanka become dominant centers of Buddhism. As Buddhism spreads over the world structures are built in reference to the Mahabodhi temple and Bodh Gaya itself. The decline of Buddhism in India in the 13th century means that Bodh Gaya to fall into disrepair. By the 19th century it is a contested site with Hindus and Buddhists laying competing claims to it.


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