The Spread of Hinduism and Buddhism in Southeast Asia Essay

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Hinduism is a very popular religion in India, being that it could possibly be the oldest religion of all time and originated in India, the Hindu population in India is 80%. With Hinduism being such a popular religion, it competes with Christianity and Islam at 900 million followers of Hinduism worldwide (Miksic, 10). As for the popularity of Buddhism, it is not nearly as prevalent as Hinduism is, even in India. A very important attribute to Hinduism is the caste system. The caste system is comprised of five levels that each Hindu is born into and cannot switch out of or marry into another. These levels include the Brahmans, who are the highest caste and include priests, scholars and other professionals, Kshatriyas, who are typically known …show more content…
This is a prime example of how Buddhism diffused throughout Southeast Asia by being assimilated into regions after Buddhist forces conquered them. Another example of this would be that of a prince from Laos who fell in love with a Cambodian-Buddhist princess. Fa Ngoun, the prince of Laos, was exiled to Cambodia and fell in love with a Buddhist princess there, then returned to Laos with newfound political power and diffused Buddhism among his people, though not forcefully (Buddhanet, pg 1). In later periods in Cambodia's history, Cambodia was one of France's colonies while the Cambodians were strongly Theravada Buddhists. After the French left Cambodia unoccupied of their colonial ruler, Cambodians sought education about Buddhism and gained only some progress in their era of Buddhist education. In Vietnam, Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism were practiced and the people were open to the culture of India. Vietnam then united and Buddhism became the main religion of the country, with the vast majority of its citizens being Buddhists but got their Buddhist traits from China. In the thirteenth century, Islam became a competitor with Buddhism when Islam spread from Sumatra to Java and then from there onto the Malay Peninsula. This therefore decreased the popularity of Buddhism and made Islam the majority religion. In the nineteenth century however, Buddhism made a strong comeback into Sumatran, Javanese and Malaysian society with the arrival of Buddhist immigrants. In
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