Professor Jens-Uwe Hartmann (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)

Between India, Rome and China: Buddhism in Gandhara

It is probable that Buddhism had already reached Gandhāra (an area in present- day northern Pakistan) during the time of king Aśoka in the 3rd century BCE. In the wake of Alexander's campaign to northwest India this region had absorbed a surge of Greek culture, which remained present for a surprisingly long time. Even centuries later, this culture still served as a matrix for creating visible representations of the Buddha and his followers. These representations proved extremely successful, spreading to India proper and, more importantly, traveling along the Silk Road, initiated the Buddhist art of local cultures and finally reached China and the Far East. So far, Gandhāra has mostly been understood as the name for this specific style of Buddhist art, but recent manuscript finds reveal that the region contributed much more to shaping Buddhism during a formative period than previously thought. It now appears that Gandhāra, earlier considered to be situated at the margin of the Indian Buddhist world, played a decisive role in the spread of Buddhism along the Silk Road towards the east.


Jens-Uwe Hartmann. Photo: Ute Hüsken

About the lecturer

Jens-Uwe Hartmann holds the chair of Indian Studies at the University of Munich. Before his appointment in 1999 he served as professor of Tibetology at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Prof. Hartmann was trained in Indology and Tibetology at the University of Munich. In 1978/79 he spent one year in Kathmandu working for the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project. His work focuses on recovering and studying the literature of Indian Buddhism, mostly on the basis of Indian manuscripts and translations of Indian Buddhist texts into Tibetan. A particular interest of recent years has been the publication of Buddhist Sanskrit manuscripts found in Pakistan and Afghanistan since the '90s.

Approx. 54 minutes. 51,8 MB
Published June 15, 2011 11:24 AM