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Welcome to the November 2011 issue of So-Wide Space. The main news in this issue is the launch of the Journal of the Oxford Centre of Buddhist Studies. We provide a background to this exciting venture plus a preview from one of the book reviews contained in the Journal.
We also provide updated news on our current Lecture Series, audio recordings on the OCBS website, upcoming lectures and the new influx of Students at the OCBS.
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Earlier on this year, several of the OCBS staff got together to discuss how to provide an enhanced membership package. The aim was to provide something substantial to those people who support us financially.
The conclusion that was reached was to start a Journal (long an intention of the OCBS). This Journal would be peer reviewed and follow academic practice whilst also giving preference to material that is accessible to as wide a range of readers as possible.
Many months later and we are now at the launch of Volume One. It contains ten articles on a broad range of topics plus an editorial and two book reviews. A subscription runs for a year's worth of volumes. You will receive two volumes for your subscription with Volume Two being published on 20th April 2012.
You can view the full Table of Contents by clicking here. We are also including below an excerpt from a very interesting book review contained in the Journal giving details on the fascinating field of numismatics.
The OCBS runs completely on money we raise ourselves. If you are able to, we do hope you will consider taking out a subscription, assisting to fund our continued activities for the upcoming year. We also hope you find much of interest and stimulation within the Journal.
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The following is taken from a review by Richard Fynes of Greater Magadha: Studies in the Culture of Early India. By Johannes Bronkhorst (Handbook of Oriental Studies, Section Two, India, Vol. 19). pp. xx, 420, Leiden and Boston, Brill, 2007
One important development, which must have had an impact on social relationships in ancient India, was the use of coined money. Bronkhorst does not discuss the evidence provided by numismatics in his section on urbanization, even though coinage in India is a key example of the adoption of a concept that originated outside Brahmanical culture.
The earliest Indian coins were produced in Kabul and Gandhāra in the early fourth century BC at a time when these regions were part of the Achaemenid empire, and shortly afterwards coins were being produced in large quantities in the countries bordering the Ganges valley. There is evidence to suggest that the earliest coins of the eastern regions were produced in Kosala. Early Indian coins are now known as punch-marked coins, since they are typically formed from pieces of silver, scyphate or flat, cut from larger sheets, and usually bear from one to five symbols, some of which clearly have a religious significance, stamped separately onto one side of their surface. Punch-marked coins were being manufactured and were circulating in the area Bronkhorst calls Greater Magadha perhaps no later than twenty-five years after the death of the Buddha.
Coined money facilitates the redistribution of wealth and it may be that one of its original purposes in India was to enable kings to make payments to Brahmins in return for their performance of Vedic sacrifices. Coined money also facilitated donations by merchants to the Buddhist sangha, as is evidenced by visual representations from Buddhist monuments dating perhaps from the second century BC. Furthermore, an increased production of coinage may well imply an increase in exchange transactions that are not based on an asymmetrical hierarchal relationship between giver and receiver, but imply equality, since the participants’ relationship is often temporary and is determined solely by their willingness to give and accept money in the form of coins.
Money facilitates anonymous exchange and thus enables its possessor and receiver to enter into relationships that are based on choice rather than on ascribed status. The growing availability of coined money may well have had a profound influence on social relationships and cultural expression in ancient India.No study of the culture of early India should ignore the potential of the evidence provided by numismatics.
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