From 500 to 1500 CE, Asia was the most powerful economic force on the planet. It was in Asia that mathematicians invented zero and algebra, astronomers learned to track the stars more accurately and invented the astrolabe for navigation, and poets and writers produced literature that is still well thought of today. The history of Asia is a broad subject to cover in just four to five pages. The entire book of Qiu Jin Hailstork’s Interpreting the Asian Past covers the history of Asia. However, Stewart Gordon’s When Asia Was the World does a great job with covering the main aspects of the history of Asia in a simpler way. Each chapter is broken down into different aspects through a series of memoirs. When Asia Was the World explains how religions, philosophy, and science each helped create Asia into the most dominant force in the world. Many find it surprising that India is the heartland of Buddhism, rather than China. Buddhism became a major religious and cultural institution throughout most of Asia, while it declined in India, the country of its birth. The reformative growth of Hinduism and the Muslim invasions in the Northwest of India causes the decline of Buddhism in India (Hailstork 13). All of the sacred places were thousands of miles away from China. Therefore, it was necessary for one to experience and learn the Buddhist ways of life in its place of origin, India. Around 618-631 CE, Xuanzang, a Buddhist monk in China, was determined to learn the great ways of Buddhism. From his journey he brought back books and knowledge of his lessons and findings. Buddha mediated on life as he saw it around him and concluded that people wanted what they did not get and got what they did not want (Gordon 3). He laid out a path of deliverance that required neither hedonistic pleasures nor extreme austerities (Gordon 3). He termed it the Middle Path, which is the ability to avoid the extremes of self-gratification and self-mortification (Hailstork 14)....
Cited: Gordon, Stewart. When Asia Was the World. Philadelphia: Da Capo Press, 2009. Print.
Hailstork, Delparto, Neulander, Interpreting The Asian Past 1st ed., 2012, Kendall Hunt
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