History assignment 2
Name: P.V Durga ( BA1)
Roll no. H2014BAMA011
Answer 2: Contribution of Alexander Cunningham towards unveiling the history of Buddhism in India
Alexander Cunningham’s journey in unraveling Buddhism in India was through an association with FC Maisey who was to prepare an illustrated report of the Buddhist site of Sanchi in 1849. They together opened the stupas within a seven mile radius of the Sanchi Stupa and published the results of these explorations in Cunningham’s book,’Bhilsa Topes’.
Specialty of Cunningham’s approach:
Until then, the style of understanding eastern religions was only through ‘textualization’ which was amply aided by the translation of Buddhist texts from Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese, Mongolian and Tibetan by enthusiasts like Christian Lassen, Eugene Bernof, and Spence Hardy. But with his exploration of the Sanchi Stupa, Cunningham initiated a paradigm shift- he used archaeological sources to understand Buddhism rather than just literary evidence. ‘Bhilsa Topes’ became the first archaeological exploration of Buddhist sites.
Debates/ ideas that influenced his work:
At that point in time, the interpretations of Buddhism were undergoing a debate. While there was consensus about the fact that Buddha was a historical figure who existed around 5th or 6th century BC, Buddhist concepts like Nirvana were debated upon. Cunningham’s work reflected this confusion of ideologies, while providing closure to some.
He drew parallels between Buddhist and