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==Bamian and its huge Buddhas (c.300's-400's?): The town of Bamian, in central Afghanistan, becomes one of the great Buddhist centers of the world. It is full of remarkable monastic caves, and one hillside niche that houses perhaps the world's largest statue, a standing Buddha 175 feet high. (This statue survives until it is destroyed by the Taliban in 2001; see *kaladarshan*.) [*Routes*]
==Fa-Hsien travels in India (394-414), seeking Buddhist texts to translate: The Chinese Buddhist monk Fa-Hsien journeys through India and Sri Lanka, visiting Buddhist religious sites and collecting texts. One of his favorite places is the great monastery of Sravasti, near modern Lucknow, where the Buddha himself is said to have spent many rainy season retreats. Excerpts from his account, "A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms" (*Brooklyn College*), make interesting reading; the whole text is also available (*Project Gutenberg*). When he returns to China, he translates a number of crucial texts into Chinese, encouraging the further spread of Buddhism there.
==The Gupta dynasty (c.321-500) controls most of North India, and Kushan power is steadily declining. The dynastic founder Chandragupta I, and his successors Chandragupta II and Samudragupta, can claim credit for presiding over what many consider to be a great "classical period"  or even "golden age" of Indian civilization (*the Gupta-Vakataka age, c.300-550*). Samudragupta has some remarkably lovely coins. [*Routes*]
==the early Puranas begin to take shape (c.300's), and the process continues for centuries. The eighteen Puranas, full of folkloric material, eventually form a kind of bridge from early religious forms into later devotional practices. The two most famous ones, the "Vishnu Purana" and the "Bhavavata Purana," both become classics of Krishna-bhakti (*Manas*).
==Kalidasa (300's???) is considered the greatest of Sanskrit dramatists, and one of the greatest Sanskrit poets as well. But when did he live?? Dates abound, and this century is perhaps a plausible possibility; but dates as much as five or six centuries earlier, and a bit later, have also been proposed (*wiki*). (Welcome to the world of Sanskrit dating!) Probably the most famous of all Kalidasa's works is his classic play "Shakuntala" (*Columbia Univ.*).

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