From the Isn’t It Cool files: one of the most important Buddhist institutions of learning in history is about to be rebuilt. Thanks to news from Noel of the Southeast Asian Archaeology Weblog.
The site is the ancient Dong Duong Buddhist College, built in ancient Champa, and hence on the crucially important sea routes between China and India (and beyond). Many important Buddhist travelers stopped, stayed, studied, and taught at Dong Duong. The Encyclopedia Brittanica writes of Dong Duong that
Apart from My Son there are one or two other sites in north and central Vietnam where Cham art was made in quantity. The most important of these is Dong Duong, in Quang Nam. It is a ruined Buddhist monastery complex of the late 9th century, conceived on the most beautifully elaborated plan of structured space in Champa. The architectural detail is distinguished from the My Son work by its greater emphasis upon the plasticity of architectural elements such as angle pilasters and porticoes. The circuit wall was about half a mile (1 km) long and once contained many shrines dedicated to Buddhist deities. It is possible that, when this complex of brick courts, halls, and gate pavilions was intact, it may have resembled very closely the contemporary Buddhist monasteries of northeastern India.
Dong Duong is a total mess at the moment: it’s apparently little more than a single tower, supported from total collapse by rotting wood. I’m so glad that this important site is going to be restored by the Vietnamese government.
No word yet on when the first class will enroll. (yes, unfortunately, I’m just kidding).
As I prepare for classes (first year students arrive this afternoon and tomorrow!), I’m thinking about ways to introduce Buddhism to students who typically imagine they already know about Buddhism. Here’s a reasonable start: “What the Buddha Never Said,” courtesy of Thanissaro Bhikkhu. First thing the Buddha never said? “Life is Suffering.”
There’s also a nice roundup of “Buddhist” or “Buddhist-themed” books for kids. Since we lost a family dog when she was struck by a car this Summer (even worse, this much-beloved animal was not really ‘ours,’ but one we were taking care of for a good friend), “Samsara Dog” looks appealing to me.