Over the last fifty years, Buddhist studies have grown into a complex field, with historical, philosophical, linguistic and socio-cultural aspects which are being studied independently as well as in comparative light. New materials came to the light in the last century which has created the need for sustained research in this important chapter of human history and civilization. Buddhism from its inception has a religion that captured the enthusiasm of the rich and poor alike. It was a religion that preached a way out of suffering in a simple and direct manner which could be understood by the common man. Unlike the Brahmanism that had become too recondite and scholarly for the masses to understand the Buddhism fulfilled the spiritual needs of the people. Every person could work their way towards enlightenment. Its notions of social equality earned it much success. The establishment of the Sangha gave it strength. As it was a proselytizing religion it spread quickly and flourished for centuries. By the beginning of first millennium, Buddhism has been firmly established in the area of Thailand, Burma, Java and Cambodia. Buddhism develops art and architectures as visual aids for propagation of the religious ideas in South-east Asia. Buddhist stylistic arts have given the great impacts on the religious and secular life of the people in those related areas for more than two millenniums and thus Buddhism had created a great current of art in south-east Asia. Under this artistic trend, many valuable art works created and gave rise to emerge a special social phenomenon. Thus, the paper focuses on the influence and impact of Indian Buddhist art on south-east Asian art and the dimensions of Buddhist art in south-east Asian culture. This paper also compares the Buddhist art in the homeland of Buddhism with those in other Buddhist countries in south-east Asia and examines the dissemination of Buddhism through art and Architecture.
Key Words: Buddhism, Buddhist art and architecture, Early South-east Asian culture South-east Asia.