a1 Hamilton College
The sixth to twelfth centuries of the common era were marked by intense religious activity in all parts of India. In the Paramāra kingdom – the main focus of the articles in this special issue – the dominant religious forces were Jainism and the Śaiva traditions of Hinduism. While Buddhism was certainly present in central India, archaeological remains, inscriptions and post-medieval narratives suggest its role was much diminished compared to the early historic period. In substantial contrast, Buddhism remained a vibrant force in eastern India. Bodhgayā, as the site of the Buddha's enlightenment, had emerged as a sacred place by the time of Aśoka in the third century BCE and it evolved subsequently into one of the key centres of the Buddhist world. This importance is attested by existing remains at the site, including the Mahābodhi temple, monastic ruins and innumerable sculptures from medieval times.
* I would like to thank my family for their unwavering support of my research programme. My ideas on inter-religious dynamics developed substantially during my time at Ruhr University, Bochum, as a visiting research fellow. Many thanks are due to the university and to Prof. Dr Volkhard Krech, director of the project studying inter-religious dynamics in Europe and Asia. Thanks are also due to Dr M. Willis for inviting me to contribute this paper to the present special issue.