The Return of the Buddha: Ancient Symbols for a New Nation

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Routledge, Aug 7, 2014 - History - 312 pages

The Return of the Buddha traces the development of Buddhist archaeology in colonial India, examines its impact on the reconstruction of India’s Buddhist past, and the making of a public and academic discourse around these archaeological discoveries.

The book discusses the role of the state and modern Buddhist institutions in the reconstitution of national heritage through promulgation of laws for the protection of Buddhist monuments, acquiring of land around the sites, restoration of edifices, and organization of the display and dissemination of relics. It also highlights the engagement of prominent Indian figures, such as Nehru, Gandhi, Ambedkar, and Tagore, with Buddhist themes in their writings.

Stressing upon the lasting legacy of Buddhism in independent India, the author explores the use of Buddhist symbols and imagery in nation-building and the making of the constitution, as also the recent efforts to resurrect Buddhist centers of learning such as Nalanda. With rich archival sources, the book will immensely interest scholars, researchers and students of modern Indian history, culture, archaeology, Buddhist studies, and heritage management.


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The Buddha in TwentyFirstCentury India
1 Engaging with Buddhism
2 The Search for the Historical Buddha
3 The Empire in the Footsteps of Ashoka
4 Excluded Buddhism
5 Buddhism in Memory and History
6 Buddhism and the Birth of a Nation
7 In Retrospect
About the Author

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About the author (2014)

Himanshu Prabha Ray is Chairperson of National Monuments Authority, New Delhi, and former Professor, Centre for Historical Studies (CHS), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi.

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