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Historical Contexts For The Emergence And Transmission Of Buddhism Within South Asia

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Chapter Summary

The aim of retracing routes and identifying nodes is to understand how trade networks shaped patterns of Buddhist transmission and how Buddhist ideologies provided an impetus to cross-cultural mobility and material exchanges. The designations applied to routes used by merchants and religious travelers refer not only to their itineraries, but also to geographical regions with flexible boundaries and polyvalent socio-religious connotations. The Uttarapatha (literally the "Northern Route") was the main artery of commercial and cultural exchange between the northwestern borderlands of South Asia and the Ganga-Yamuna doab in northern India. The Daks?in?apatha (literally "Southern Route") connecting the Ganges- Yamuna valley with the west coast via the Deccan plateau was the southern Indian counterpart to the Uttarapatha. By linking South Asian overland networks with maritime routes across the Indian Ocean, coastal seaports offered outlets for commodities from the Indian subcontinent and opened up possibilities for longdistance cross-cultural contact.

Keywords:coastal seaports; Dakṣiṇāpatha; Indian Ocean; maritime routes; South Asia; trade networks; Uttarāpatha



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