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Buddhism in Bamyan
Buddhism is based on the teachings of Siddharta Gautama, the Buddha, or “Enlightened One”, who lived in northeastern India and probably died around 400 BC. Scholars see it as a reform movement within Hinduism, doing away with the belief in caste and teaching that anyone can find enlightenment. Buddhism teaches that the only way to escape the endless cycle of suffering and rebirth is to learn detachment from the world by following the path of correct behaviour and mental and spiritual discipline. The soul which achieves enlightenment will reach Nirvana, and be extinguished.

From its original homeland in today’s Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, Buddhism spread across northern India. Gandhara – the area of the Peshawar valley in northwest Pakistan -- became an important Buddhist centre under the Kushan empire in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. It was here that the first representations of the Buddha were made, inspired partly by a Greek artistic tradition in the Hellenistic kingdoms which survived the brief conquest of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC. From Gandhara, Buddhist ideas and art spread to Afghanistan and Central Asia, and north to Tibet, China and Japan along the Silk Road.

The great Buddhas in Bamyan were created in the early 6th century AD by the area’s large community of monks. Buddhism later all but disappeared from its Indian homeland as Hinduism reasserted itself. In Bamyan it was in decline by the 8th century and Islam gradually replaced it in the remote highlands of Hazarajat.

 
 
 
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