Special Issue "Buddhism on the Silk Road: A Good Case for Religious Syncretism"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2019

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Yuan Ren

University of Regina, 3737 Wascana Pkwy, Regina, SK S4S 0A2, Canada
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Buddhist history; Buddhist literature; religious syncretism between Buddhism and other religious traditions

Special Issue Information

“Buddhism on the Silk Road” is a topic with very rich contents. Buddhism developed from India to China through Inner Asia along the Silk Road. Naturally, it carried various influences that it adopted along the road from the peoples, cultures, and religious faiths. It would be significant to show different aspects of Buddhism in the following topics:

  1. The development of Mahayana Buddhism on the Road;
  2. Buddhism and Iranian influences;
  3. Buddhism and local/popular religious beliefs;
  4. Buddhism and Manichaeism;
  5. Buddhism and Islam.

In general, this Issue will focus on religious syncretism, and the Silk Road is the most suitable place to show it and is the best place for the discussion. It would be helpful to study the above areas through these approaches: archeological, textual (e.g., manuscripts, monuments), fine arts (wall-paintings, sculptures), architectural, historical, and so forth. This Issue will provide a collection of the study of Buddhism from different perspectives with a pleasure.

Dear Colleagues,

The focus of this Special Issue is “Buddhism on the Silk Road.” It will, through articles selected from experts in their respective areas, show various faces of Buddhism, specifically pertaining to its unique characteristics in its development along the Silk Road (e.g., its sects, its rich impact on other religions, and vice versa). As a result, it will be used as a case study for religious syncretism. With this purpose, readers will be able to see Buddhism in a larger picture, and this Special Issue will provide a better understanding of history, cultures, peoples, and religions that have been connected and combined with each other and can never be clearly separated.

Scholars in these areas have done a tremendous amount of work in the past decades, for example, Paul Harrison “Searching for the Origins of the Mahayana: What Are We Looking for?” in Eastern Buddhist 28/1, 1995. pp.48 – 59; David Scott “Buddhist Responses to Manichaeism: Mahayana Reaffirmation of the ‘Middle Path?’ in History of Religions, Nov.1, 1995; 35/2. pp.149 – 162; Richard Foltz “When Was Central Asia Zoroastrian?” Mankind Quarterly 38/3, 1998. pp.189 – 200; Frantz Grenet “Religious Diversity among Sogdian Merchants in Sixth-century China: Zoroastrianism. Buddhism Manichaeism, and Hinduism,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Vol 27, Number 2, 2007. David Scott “The Iranian Face of Buddhism,” East and West, Vol. 40, No.1/4, 1990. pp.42 – 77; Nahal Tajadod “The Role of Iranians in the Spread of Buddhism, Manichaeism and Mazdaism in China,” Diogenes, 50.4 (Nov. 2003), pp.61 – 70. Painted Buddhas of Xinjiang by Jacques Gies, Laure Feugere and Andre Coutin, The British Museum Press, 2002; Valerie Hansen “Entryway into Xinjiang for Buddhism and Islam” in The Silk Road A New History. Oxford University Press, 2012. pp.199 – 234; Kato Kyuso “Cultural Exchange on the Ancient Silk Road,” Ethnological Studies 32, 1992. pp 5-20; Richard Foltz Religions of the Silk Road Premodern Patterns of Globalization. Palgrave/Macmillan, 1999; and Xinru Liu The Silk Road in World History. Oxford University Press, 2010.

Prof. Yuan Ren
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charges (APCs) of 550 CHF (Swiss Francs) per published paper are partially funded by institutions through Knowledge Unlatched for a limited number of papers per year. Please contact the editorial office before submission to check whether KU waivers, or discounts are still available. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Mahayana Buddhism
  • Zoroastrianism
  • Manichaeism
  • cultural exchange
  • religious syncretism
  • Buddhist art
  • history

Published Papers (1 paper)

View options order results:
result details:
Displaying articles 1-1
Export citation of selected articles as:


Open AccessArticle History and Myth: Mahāmudrā Lineage Accounts in the 12th-Century Xixia Buddhist Literature
Religions 2019, 10(3), 187; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030187
Received: 11 February 2019 / Revised: 6 March 2019 / Accepted: 7 March 2019 / Published: 12 March 2019
PDF Full-text (2165 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Mahāmudrā—an Indo-Tibetan phenomenon of Buddhist spirituality—constitutes in its systematic presentation a path that maps out the mystical quest for direct experience of ultimate reality. Despite the post-15th century bKa’-brgyud attempts at a codified Mahāmudrā genealogy, the early Tibetan sources speak little with [...] Read more.
Mahāmudrā—an Indo-Tibetan phenomenon of Buddhist spirituality—constitutes in its systematic presentation a path that maps out the mystical quest for direct experience of ultimate reality. Despite the post-15th century bKa’-brgyud attempts at a codified Mahāmudrā genealogy, the early Tibetan sources speak little with regards to how the different Indian Mahāmudrā threads made their way over the Himalayas. To fill this gap, the article investigates, via philological and historical approaches, the lineage accounts in the 12th-century Xixia Mahāmudrā materials against the Indo-Tibetan Buddhist landscape. Three transmission lines are detected. Among them, two lines are attested by later Tibetan historiographical accounts about Mahāmudrā, and thus belong to an Indo-Tibetan continuum of the constructed Buddhist yogic past based upon historical realities—at least as understood by Tibetans of the time. The third one is more of a collage patching together different claims to spiritual legacy and religious authority—be they historically based or introspectively projected. Not only does the Mahāmudrā topography, jointly fueled by these three transmissions, reveal the Xixia recognition and imagination of the Indo-Tibetan Buddhist legacies, it also captures the complexities of the multi-faceted picture of Mahāmudrā on its way over the Himalayas during the 11th/12th century. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhism on the Silk Road: A Good Case for Religious Syncretism)
Religions EISSN 2077-1444 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert Logo copyright Steve Bridenbaugh/UUA
Back to Top