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Eastern embrace of Buddhism

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Magnificent monuments, paintings and manuscripts attest to the rise and continuing influence of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, Nepal and Tibet.
One of the earliest countries to embrace Buddhism was Sri Lanka. In the 3rd century BCE, Sanghamitra, daughter of Emperor Asoka, carried a cutting of the revered Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya to Sri Lanka. Buddhism was symbolically planted, along with the holy tree, on the island. Both the faith and the venerated Bodhi tree continue to flourish.
Sacred Bodhi Tree, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. This may be the oldest recorded living tree in the world. It has grown from a cutting of the original Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya, India, under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. The cutting was brought by Sanghamitra, daughter of Emperor Asoka, and was planted in Anuradhapura in 249 BCE by the king of Sri Lanka, who called himself Devanampiya-tissa, meaning "beloved of the divine".
The paintings of the Sigiriya caves, of the 5th century, in Sri Lanka, are very similar to those of Ajanta. They have the same inward look and a lyrical grace that seem to say that there is an end to the sorrow of the world.
In the 8th and 9th centuries, magnificent Buddhist monuments were constructed in Java. The Borobudur Stupa was built by the Sailendra kings in this period. One of the most magnificent Buddhist monuments, it is the tallest stupa standing in the world. There are many thousands of feet of fine relief, which one sees as one climbs upwards and goes around the stupa.
Nepal is geographically very close to the cultural centres of the Indian plains. There is a great heritage of philosophy and art that Nepal has shared with India over the centuries. With the disruption of Buddhist centres in India after the 12th century, monks and scholars took refuge in Nepal. They carried with them their greatest treasures, their valued manuscripts and paintings. Thereafter, Nepal became one of the main lands that continued the Buddhist heritage of the plains of eastern India. Paintings and sculptures made in Tibet over the next few centuries were mainly made by Nepalese artists.
Benoy K. Behl is a film-maker, art historian and photographer who is known for his prolific output of work over the past 34 years. He has taken over 35,000 photographs of Asian monuments and art heritage and made over a hundred documentaries on art history. This series carries photographs from his photographic exhibition on Buddhist Heritage of the World, which is currently on display in Nara in Japan and in the French Reunion Island. It was also displayed earlier this year in London, Washington, D.C., Tokyo, Leh, New Delhi and at the International Buddhist Conclave in Varanasi. The series has photographs taken in 19 countries/regions across Asia and in one part of Europe which has a 300-year-old Buddhist heritage.
Mirisawetiya Stupa, Anuradhapura, 2nd century BCE. The vast stupa is 209 metres high and symbolises the grandeur of the spirit. Its size and magnificence create awe in viewers and transport them to a world away from the turmoil and confusion of daily existence.
Aukana Buddha, near Kekirawa, Sri Lanka, Circa 5th century C.E. The tallest Buddha statue in Sri Lanka, it measures 39 feet (11.88 metres) from its lotus plinth and 46 feet (14 metres) from the ground. It is known to have been made in the reign of King Dhatusena, the period when "brhad", or colossal, Buddhas began to be made in Sri Lanka and in the caves of Maharashtra in western India. The tradition soon spread to South-East Asia and northwards to Kashmir, Ladakh, Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Apsaras, Mural, Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, C. 5th Century. The painter's gentle touch reflects sympathy and compassion for humankind. These paintings carry forward the tradition of apsaras (celestial beings) who carry offerings of flowers for deities and venerable beings.
VATADAGE, POLONNARUWA, SRI LANKA, 12TH CENTURY. Vatadage means circular relic house or shrine. It is similar in concept to the chaitya-griha made to house objects of veneration in India. The shape of the structure is unique to ancient Sri Lanka. These were built around small stupas which enshrined holy relics. Vatadages may have had wooden roofs supported by stone columns, sometimes arranged in concentric rows. This one may be the finest example of a vatadage, only 10 of which remain in Sri Lanka. It is believed to have been built during the reign of Parakramabahu I to hold the tooth relic of the Buddha.
DAMBULLA CAVES, SRI LANKA, 1ST CENTURY BCE TO 13TH CENTURY C.E. Situated in central Sri Lanka, it is carved out of a rock that towers 160 metres over the surrounding plains and is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in the country. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the complex has five caves where paintings and sculptures were made during the Anuradhapura (1 BCE to 993 C.E.) and Polonnaruwa (1073 to 1250) periods.

SRI DALADA MALIGAWA OR THE TEMPLE OF THE SACRED TOOTH RELIC, KANDY, SRI LANKA. The temple is located in the royal palace complex in Kandy. Since ancient times it is believed that whoever holds the holy relic holds the key to governance of the country. Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings. After the parinirvana of Gautama Buddha, the relic was preserved in Kalinga. It was smuggled into Sri Lanka by Princess Hemamali and her husband, Prince Dantha, on the instructions of her father, King Guhasiva, in the 4th century. The present-day Temple of the Tooth was built by Vira Narendra Sinha.
SEATED BUDDHA, GALVIHARA, POLONNARUWA, 12TH CENTURY. Polonnaruwa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was the capital of Sri Lanka in the 11th and 12th centuries. Galvihara here has four magnificent Buddha statues carved out of a granite hill face. They depict the Buddha seated, standing and reclining. Galvihara is part of a monastery built in the 12th century during the reign of King Parakramabahu.
THE BAYON, CAMBODIA, 13TH CENTURY. King Jayavarman VII built the greatest Buddhist complex in Cambodia at his capital Angkor Thom. The face towers of Angkor Thom are now a universally recognised symbol for Angkor. The faces look in the four directions and symbolise the universal benevolence of the Bodhisattva Lokeshvara. The Bayon, at the centre of Angkor Thom, is the king's own sacred temple-mountain.
BIRTH OF THE BUDDHA, MURAL, LOKA HTEIK PANN PAGODA, BAGAN, MYANMAR, 12TH CENTURY. The murals in Bagan are among the finest Buddhist paintings in the world. They carry forward the gentle traditions of the early art from Ajanta onwards. Similarities with the contemporaneous art of the Pala kingdom in India are apparent. The themes of the paintings are the life of the Buddha and the Jataka stories of his previous lives.
PAGODAS AT SUNRISE, BAGAN. At the end of the first millennium, Myanmar had a deep and direct relationship with the centre of Buddhist philosophy, at Bodhgaya in India. In the 11th century, the king of Myanmar restored the Mahabodhi temple at Bodhgaya at his own expense. He also made replicas of the Mahabodhi temple in his own capital of Bagan.
SHWEDAGON PAGODA, YANGON, MYANMAR. Tradition ascribes this stupa to the 5th century BCE. Archaeologists date it to between the 6th and 10th centuries C.E. It houses relics of four Buddhas-Kakusandha, Konagamana, Kassapa and Gautama. The Theravada tradition recognises 28 Buddhas in human form. The Buddhavamsa, a text that is part of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism, describes the lives of the 28 Buddhas. They are not the only Buddhas believed to have existed. Gautama Buddha is believed to have received the permission to be the next enlightened one from Dipankara Buddha. Gautama Buddha preached that innumerable Buddhas have lived in past kalpas. In fact, the first words he spoke when he was born were "I am one who will tread the path taken by others before me."
ONGTUE TEMPLE, VIENTIANE, LAOS. The grand Wat Ongtue in Vientiane was originally built in the 16th century and rebuilt in the 19th century. It houses a colossal Buddha image, which weighs 10 tonnes. As in the tradition of Laos, the great temple is also an educational institution. Young men come here to gain knowledge of the arts and sciences, as well as of the science of life.
SEATED BUDDHAS, WAT CHAWATTANARAM, AYUTTHAYA, THAILAND, 17TH CENTURY. Great Buddhist monasteries at Ayutthaya, from the mid-14th to the 17th centuries, were centres of philosophy, literature and the fine arts.
WIHAN LUANG, WAT RATCHA BURANA, AYUTTHAYA, 15TH CENTURY. King U Thong founded a new capital in the mid-14th century, 85 km north of present-day Bangkok. He named it Ayutthaya, after the city of Ayodhya, the birthplace of Rama in India. In fact, the king of Thailand personifies virtues as depicted in the character of Rama. Many structures that represent the glorious Buddhist history of the site survive at Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
SEATED BUDDHA, WAT MAHA THAT, SUKHOTHAI HISTORICAL PARK, THAILAND, 13TH-14TH CENTURIES. In this period Sukhothai, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was one of the great Buddhist centres of the world. Some of the most graceful pieces of Buddhist art were created here, in a style that is famous to this day.
WIHAN LUANG, WAT RATCHA BURANA, AYUTTHAYA, 15TH CENTURY. Over the centuries, its ideal location between China, India and the Malay archipelago made Ayutthaya one of the main trading capitals of Asia. By the 18th century, it was one of the largest cities in the world, with a population of about one million.
BOROBUDUR STUPA, JAVA, INDONESIA, 8TH-9TH CENTURIES. Built by the Sailendra kings, this is the tallest standing stupa in the world and one of the most magnificent Buddhist monuments. The several thousand feet of fine reliefs made around the stupa spell out the essential beliefs of Buddhist philosophy. The bottom level presents the life of passions in the world: the Kamadhatu. The next level presents the law of action and reward: the Karmadhatu. Rising upwards, numerous reliefs depict the Rupadhatu, the life and stories of the Buddha. He is Rupa, the personification of the potential for enlightenment within us. The next is the level of the final truth, which is formless: Arupadhatu. Here, there are no distractions of the illusory forms of maya and all that we see in the stupa. This is the final truth in all Buddhist thought, beyond all forms.

RELIEF, BOROBUDUR STUPA, 8TH-9TH CENTURY. Sophisticated seagoing sailing ships such as this must have carried out the extensive trade then between India, Indonesia and China.

KALA GATEWAY NEAR THE TOP OF THE BOROBUDUR STUPA. Through this gateway, we leave Kala, or Time, behind us. We proceed towards the understanding of the final truth of Arupa, or the Formless Eternal.
VAT THAT LUANG, VIENTIANE. This magnificent stupa, which brings before us the majesty and grandeur of the spirit, is a national symbol of Laos. It was originally made in the 16th century and restored in the mid-20th century.
SEATED BUDDHA, DONG DUONG. COLLECTION: DA NANG MUSEUM, VIETNAM. South and Central Vietnam have many Hindu and some Buddhist temples, all made in the 7th to 13th centuries. A monastery complex was built at Dong Duong in the 9th century.
ASOKA PILLAR, LUMBINI, NEPAL. Lumbini is near the border with Uttar Pradesh in India. This highly polished sandstone pillar commemorates the visit of Emperor Asoka to Lumbini in the 3rd century BCE.

In the middle of the expanses of Siberia, it is most interesting to come across monks, all of whom speak Hindi as they have received their Buddhist education in India.
SAMYE MONASTERY, CENTRAL TIBET, 8TH CENTURY C.E. This was the first monastery to be established in Tibet. It was founded by Shantarakshita, who was from Nalanda University in present-day Bihar. The monastery building is designed on the model of the Odantapuri Mahavihara, which was close to Nalanda. This is the only surviving representation of what ancient Indian mahaviharas looked like.
Traders in caravans of ancient times connected China, Europe and India. On these routes, besides the exchange of goods there was the sharing of ideas about the meaning of life and the eternal truths. The concepts that took the deepest root were those of Buddhism, which Indian traders spoke about. They included the concepts of “samsara” and “maya”, the illusory nature of the material world around us. They spoke about the many temptations of the natural world that always led to dissatisfaction and pain and explained that the way to remove the pain of existence was to do away with the desires that caused it. Indic philosophy did not really speak of gods or external forces, but was a science of life.
THOLING MONASTERY, ZANDA, NGARI, WESTERN TIBET, 996 C.E. In the 10th century, King Yeshe Od sent Rinchen Zangpo to Kashmir to acquire knowledge of Buddhism and also bring artists to decorate the 108 monasteries that were built in the trans-Himalayas. The earliest two of these monasteries were Tholing in Tibet and Nyarma in Ladakh, India. These 108 monasteries became the backbone of Buddhism in the trans-Himalayas.
These ideas must have struck deep chords in those who heard them because by the beginning of the First Millennium C.E. many great Buddhist stupas and temples stood in Central Asia and China. Kumarayana from Kashmir was one of the greatest Buddhist teachers of the 4th century. He became the guru of the king of Kucha and later married his daughter, Jiva. Their son was named Kumarajiva.
GUGE CASTLE REMAINS, TSAPARANG, TIBET. The ruins in the barren landscape of western Tibet bring alive the time when Guge was at the heart of a flourishing kingdom. Guge stretched across western Tibet and the Indian territories of Ladakh, Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur.
Princess Jiva took Kumarajiva to Kashmir, the land of his father. There the young boy studied Sanskrit and the Buddhist scriptures for 13 years. On their return to Kucha, Kumarajiva became famous as the finest-ever translator of the Buddhist scriptures. It is believed that China attacked and annexed Kucha as the ruler was keen to take Kumarajiva to his own court. Today, there is a beautiful sculpture of Kumarajiva installed by the Chinese government in front of the Kizil Caves near Kucha. There also stands a large temple dedicated many centuries ago to the white horse that Kumarajiva rode.
JOKHANG TEMPLE, LHASA, TIBET, FOUNDED IN THE 7TH CENTURY. This temple was founded during the reign of King Songsten Gampo. According to tradition, the king had two Buddhist brides, Princess Wencheng of the Chinese Tang ynasty and Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal. Both wives are said to have brought important Buddhist statues and images from China and Nepal.
Lotus Sutra and other translations of Kumarajiva remain extremely popular in China. Others too have translated the same sutras, but it is said that there is a poetic quality and charm in Kumarajiva’s writings which the later translations do not have.
DUNGKAR CAVES, WESTERN TIBET, C. 10TH CENTURY C.E. Caves with extensive wall paintings were discovered at this remote site in the early 1990s. These paintings are possibly the oldest and the most untouched murals in all of Tibet. Dungkar is approximately 40 kilometres north of Zhada town.
In the 8th century, Santaraksita from Nalanda University in Bihar built the first monastery in Tibet. However, he found that the people of the Tibetan plateau continued to live in fear of evil spirits and would not easily take to Buddhism. In 747 C.E., at his suggestion, Guru Padmasambhava, also of Nalanda University, was invited to help spread the Buddhist faith in Tibet. The story of Padmasambhava’s conversion of the people of the trans-Himalayan lands is the greatest epic story of the entire region. The Guru swept across the mountains, performing the Cham, or the monastic dance of the lamas, with which he purified the land and established Buddhism. The faith continues to flourish in the lands he visited, including Ladakh, Spiti, Kinnaur, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh.
PAINTED INTERIOR, SOUTH FACING CAVE 1, DUNGKAR. These murals were made during the 10th and 11th centuries by Kashmiri painters or those who were trained by them. This was during the period of "The Second Great Coming of Buddhism" in the trans-Himalayas initiated by King Yeshe Od of Guge.
When King Yeshe Od (947-1024) came to the throne of Guge, his kingdom consisted of the present Indian territories of Ladakh, Spiti and Kinnaur and Guge and Purang in western Tibet. By then, Buddhism had declined in the trans-Himalayas.
ELEVEN-HEADED AVALOKETISWARA, MURAL, DUNGKAR CAVES. The figures and motifs rendered on the walls of these caves retain a spontaneous joy and grace characteristic of the early Indian and Indian-influenced art. The art is similar to that in monasteries of the 10th-12th centuries in India, including Alchi, Mangyu, Sumda, Tabo, Lhalung and Nako.
What troubled the king most was that even the little religion that was practised in small pockets was a decadent and corrupted form of the original faith. Around 975 C.E., the king sent 21 young scholars to Kashmir, at that time one of the greatest centres of Buddhism, to learn about the pure faith and to bring back that knowledge and the scriptures. These young men, full of zeal, set out on what was a long and difficult journey. Nineteen of them died in the travel to and from Kashmir.
SHIVA AND PARVATI, MURAL, KIZIL CAVES, KUCHA, CHINA, C. 6TH CENTURY. Hindu deities are commonly seen in the art of the Buddhist caves in India and other countries across Asia. We are reminded of the cosmopolitan culture of the ancient times when Hindu kings often patronised Buddhist caves and art. Ancient inscriptions also show that the wives of Hindu kings in India often worshipped the Buddha or a Jaina Tirtankara.
One of the two scholars who survived the journey and returned after 17 years, Rinchen Zangpo (958-1055), became famous as Lohtsawa, “The Great Translator”. He supervised the construction of many monasteries and temples, exquisite and brilliant jewels of the faith set in the midst of the vast spaces of the trans-Himalayan desert.
INTERIOR OF MOGAO CAVE NO. 45, DUNHUANG, CHINA. Buddhist cave art, which originated in India in the 3rd century C.E., travelled to Bamiyan, Kucha-Kizil, Turfan and Dunhuang. Buddhist caves were excavated for meditation and as retreats for monks. Around 492 Mogao caves survive as repositories of the artistic traditions of ancient and medieval China. Approximately 25,000 square metres of wall paintings and more than 3,000 painted sculptures make this one of the most valuable sites of Buddhist art.
As many as 108 monasteries were believed to have been constructed in this period in the kingdom of Guge. King Yeshe Od and the subsequent kings who continued his work invited artists from Kashmir to build the monasteries and make the marvelous paintings and sculptures inside them. The painters and sculptors brought with them a highly sophisticated form of art deeply rooted in the classical Sanskrit texts of India. They also trained local artists as can be seen in the marvelous blending of the local idioms with the developed styles of Kashmir.
BEZEKLIK CAVES, CHINA. The 77 Bezeklik Caves date from the 5th to the 14th century. The site lies between the cities of Turfan and Shanshan (Loulan), north-east of the Taklamakan desert. It would have been on the northern Silk Route.
The earliest surviving paintings in Tibet, of perhaps the 11th century, are found in the Dungkar Caves, in a very remote part of western Tibet. These paintings were made either by Kashmiri painters or by those trained by them.
KIZIL CAVES, KUCHA. Kucha was one of the greatest Buddhist centres in Central Asia in the first half of the first millennium. There are 236 caves at Kizil, with paintings that date from the 3rd to the 9th century. Stylistically, they are a blend of Indian, Iranian and Chinese influences. These are among the best early paintings that survive in present-day China.
The northernmost lands that Buddhism reached were Buryatia in Siberia and Mongolia. By the 13th century, Vajrayana Buddhism had taken deep root in Mongolia. The greatest Buddhist king of Mongolia was Zanabazar, of the 17th century. Besides being the builder of many temples, he was himself a great artist. The finest Buddhist art that survives in Mongolia was made by him. He was deeply devoted to the deity Tara, and many of the finest images he made were of her.
STATUE OF KUMARAJIVA, KIZIL CAVES. Kumarajiva (4th century) was the son of Kumarayana, a Pandit from Kashmir and the royal teacher at Kucha, who married Princess Jiva of Kucha. At a very young age Kumarajiva was taken to Kashmir, the land of his father, to learn Sanskrit and the Buddhist scriptures. He returned to Kucha to become the greatest translator of Buddhist texts into Chinese.
Buddhism came to Buryatia in the middle of the 17th century from Mongolia and Tibet. By 1741, Buddhism was recognised as one of the national religions of Russia. Buddhist temples became centres of learning where Sanskrit, Tibetan and Mongolian languages and manuscripts were studied. In Soviet times, these Buddhist temples were all destroyed.
COLOSSAL BUDDHA, BINGLING SI, CHINA. Bingling Si is a series of natural caves and caverns in a canyon along the Yellow River, with Buddhist sculptures. It lies just north of where the Yellow River empties into the Liujiaxia reservoir in Gansu province, some 100 km south-east of Lanzhou. The caves were sculpted over a period of more than a millennium, beginning around 420 C.E.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Buddhism is being revived in Buryatia. In the middle of the expanses of Siberia, it is most interesting to come across monks, all of whom speak Hindi as they have received their Buddhist education in India. It is wonderful to see the revival of this vision of life, of the search for the truth beyond the illusory nature of the material world, in these lands so distant from where Buddhism was born.
THREE-EYED GANESA, TANGKHA, LATE 19TH CENTURY, BOGD KHAN PALACE MUSEUM, ULAANBAATAR. Ganesa, one of the popular deities of Hindu art, features often in Buddhist art of all countries.
By the 17th-18th centuries, the Russian region of Kalmykia, south of the Volga river, had become the first Buddhist part of Europe. Kalmykia was on a northern branch of the Silk Route. Here, too, after Soviet times, Buddhism has seen a revival. Lamas from Ladakh conduct religious ceremonies for the reverential people of Kalmykia.

AKSHOBHYA, 17TH CENTURY, ZANABAZAR MUSEUM, ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA. These gentle figures have an inward look and lead us on a journey to the treasure to be found inside us.
DAKINI WITH OFFERINGS, MINERAL PIGMENT ON CLOTH, ZANABAZAR MUSEUM. Such celestial beings carrying flowers, garlands and other offerings for the divine are depicted often in Buddhist art. This tradition is seen from the middle of the first millennium in the caves of Maharashtra.
WHITE TARA, 17TH CENTURY, MADE BY KING ZANABAZAR, ZANABAZAR MUSEUM, ULAANBAATAR. The King was a very devoted and skilled artist in line with the Buddhist tradition, spiritual thought and personal emancipation being its most important aims.
ATISA, GOLDEN ABODE OF SHAKYAMUNI TEMPLE, ELISTA, KALMYKIA, RUSSIA. The temple honours 17 great acharyas of the Nalanda University tradition. Atisa was born in Bengal, studied at Nalanda and in Indonesia and taught Buddhism in Tibet. His work is regarded as a cornerstone of Buddhism in Tibet.
ZORIK LAMA, ONE OUT OF MANY WHO STUDIED IN INDIA, AT IVOLGA MONASTERY, BURYATIA, RUSSIA. It is wonderful to see how, as in ancient times, India is once again the cradle of Buddhist learning. Even up to the 12th century, students from many Asian countries used to study at Nalanda and Vikramshila Universities.
MONGOLIAN GANJUR, SACRED BUDDHIST TEXT, ULAN UDE, BURYATIA, RUSSIA, 18TH CENTURY. Vajrayana Buddhism spread to Buryatia in Siberia from Mongolia. This would be the northernmost spread of Buddhism in Asia.
INTERIOR, KHURUL, A BUDDHIST TEMPLE IN AARSHAAN, NEAR ELISTA, KALMYKIA, RUSSIA. This vast and beautiful interior follows exactly the traditions of Buddhist temples in the trans-Himalayan regions of India and Tibet. It symbolises the spread of the philosophic and artistic ideas of Vajrayana Buddhism.
PEOPLE OF KALMYKIA RECEIVING BLESSINGS OF A LADAKHI LAMA, ELISTA. Buddhist traditions know no boundaries. Here, Indian lamas bless Russian Buddhists. The new temples rely upon these Indian lamas, mainly from Ladakh.
GOLDEN ABODE OF SHAKYAMUNI TEMPLE, KALMYKIA. By the 17th-18th centuries, the region of Kalmykia, south of the Volga river, had become the first Buddhist part of Europe. The tradition was destroyed during the Soviet times. This recently made temple has become a great symbol of the Buddhist traditions of Kalmykia.
GINKAKU-JI TEMPLE, KYOTO, JAPAN, 15TH CENTURY. The temple has many beautiful trees and a variety of mosses. The philosophy and aesthetics developed in the early Buddhist traditions have been nurtured best here. More than any other in the world, the culture of Japan is deeply sensitive to the harmony and beauty in everything around us.
KINKAKU-JI TEMPLE, KYOTO, 14TH CENTURY. The Kinkaku-ji Temple, known as the Golden Pavilion, is set in beautiful surroundings. It is a fine example of the aesthetics integral to the understanding of the peace and harmony of the whole of creation. Japan is the most distant land to have made Buddhism its own and the tradition has flourished there over many centuries.
Benoy K. Behl is a film-maker, art historian and photographer who is known for his prolific output of work over the past 34 years. He has taken over 35,000 photographs of Asian monuments and art heritage and made over a hundred documentaries on art history. This series carries photographs from his photographic exhibition on Buddhist Heritage of the World, which is currently on display in Nara in Japan and in the French Reunion Island. It was also displayed earlier this year in London, Washington, D.C., Tokyo, Leh, New Delhi and at the International Buddhist Conclave in Varanasi. The series has photographs he has taken in 19 countries/regions across Asia and in one part of Europe which has a 300-year-old Buddhist heritage