Friday 3/10/2017: Talk by Tansen Sen: "Buddhas on the Move"

The Columbia University Buddhist Studies Seminar, the Center for Buddhism and East Asian Religion and the Columbia University Seminars would like to invite you to the following talk:

Buddhas on the Move: Chinese Migrants and Their Buddhist (?) Identity

Tansen Sen (Baruch College)

Friday, March 10th, 2017, 5:00 PM

Columbia University, Faculty House


This presentation examines the spread of Chinese temples associated with the veneration of Ruan and Liang buddhas from Sihui County in Guangdong Province through Southeast Asia to the Chinatown in Kolkata, India. Ruan Ziyu and Liang Cineng were followers of the sixth Chan patriarch Huineng and are believed to have attained enlightenment and become buddhas during the Song dynasty (960-1279). Temples dedicated to these two Chinese buddhas were established in the Sihui County. With the migration of people from the region in the nineteenth century, the belief in the two buddhas and the temples associated with them spread to present-day Malaysia and India. These Ruan-Liang temples in foreign settings functioned both as religious sites as well as places where migrants from the Sihui area congregated. By tracing the spread of the Ruan-Liang belief and temples, this presentation explains the relationship between migration and the diffusion of Chinese religious traditions, the role of temples in the preservation of sub-regional identity in foreign lands, the mixing of Chinese and local ideas and histories, and the intimate connections between China, Southeast Asia, and India in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.      

Tansen Sen is Professor of history at Baruch College, City University of New York, USA.  He received his MA from Peking University and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Buddhism, Diplomacy, and Trade: The Realignment of Sino-Indian Relations, 600-1400 (University of Hawai’i Press, 2003) and co-author (with Victor H. Mair) of Traditional China in Asian and World History (Association for Asian Studies, 2012). He has edited Buddhism Across Asia: Networks of Material, Cultural and Intellectual Exchange (Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2014). He has recently completed a monograph entitled India, China, and the World: A Connected History. Currently he is working on a book on Zheng He’s maritime expeditions and editing (with Engseng Ho) the Cambridge History of the Indian Ocean, Volume 1.


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Information about the Columbia University Buddhist Studies Seminar