Buddhism in Southeast Asia included a variety of traditions of Buddhism including two main traditions: Mahayana Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism. Historically, Mahayana Buddhism had a prominent position in this region, but in modern times most countries follow the Theravada tradition. Southeast Asian countries with a Theravada Buddhist majority are Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Buddhism reached Southeast Asia both directly over sea from India and indirectly from Central Asia and China in a process that spanned most of the first millennium CE. In the early centuries of the Common Era, the people in various parts of Southeast Asia came to know of Buddhism as a result of increased contact with the Indian merchants who had come to the region to trade. These merchants not only established trading stations in Southeast Asia, but also brought their religions and cultures with them. Under their influence, the local people began to practice a mixture of Buddhism and Hinduism, while retaining at the same time many of their old beliefs and customs. In this book is presented for the first time a comprehensive survey of the Buddhist influence on Asian culture and civilization.