In the religious landscape of early medieval (c. ad 600-1200) Bihar and Bengal, poly-religiousity was generally the norm than an exception, which entailed the evolution of complex patterns of inter-religious equations. Buddhism, Brahmanism and Jainism not only coexisted but also competed for social patronage, forcing them to enter into complex interactions with social institutions and processes. Through an analysis of the published archaeological data, this work explores some aspects of the social history of Buddhist, Brahmanical and Jaina temples and shrines, and Buddhist stūpas and monasteries in early medieval Bihar and Bengal. This archaeological history of religions questions many ‘established’ textual reconstructions, and enriches our understanding of the complex issue of the decline of Buddhism in this area.
About the Author
Birendra Nath Prasad is Assistant Professor at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, where he teaches social history of religion in India and Southeast Asia. His recent publications include Monasteries, Shrines and Society: Buddhist and Brahmanical Religious Institutions in India in their Socio-Economic Context (edited, Delhi, 2011); Rethinking Bihar and Bengal: History, Culture and Religion (Delhi, 2021); Social History of Indian Buddhism: New Researches (edited, Delhi, 2021, forthcoming), and many peer-reviewed research articles in prestigious international journals such as Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies (Oxford), Buddhist Studies Review (London), Religions of South Asia (London/Sheffield) and Berlin Indological Studies.