Buddhism in Central Asia
Buddhism in Central Asia refers to the forms of Buddhism that existed in Central Asia, which were historically especially prevalent along the Silk Road. The history of Buddhism in Central Asia is closely related to the Silk Road transmission of Buddhism during the first millennium of the common era.
 Kushan empire
When King Kanishka came to power in 78 AD in Central Asia a new system of chronology was adopted, replacing the chronology from the era of the Seleucids. During the Kushan period, various religious systems were widespread in Central Asia. These were the local cult of Mitra and Anahit, Zoroastrian pantheon (Ormuzd, Veretzanga, etc.) the Greek pantheon (Zeus, Helios, Helen, etc.) and the cult of local heroes (Siyavush in Khorezm and Sogd). The followers of Buddhism had been banished from Iran in the 2nd - 3rd centuries and found support in Central Asia, where Buddhism became widely practiced. According to Chinese chronicles Buddhism came to China in 147 from the country of the "big yue dzhi", and thanks to the Kushan missionaries Buddhism was adopted as the official religion of the court of the Chinese emperor, Huangdi (147-167).
During the archeological excavations in Khorezm (Bazaar-Kala, Gyaur-Kala, Gyaz-Kala) and Sogd (tali-barzu, Zohak-i-Maron castle, Er-Kurgan and others) it was found out that many settlements and castles dated back to the Kushan period. But the largest number of traces of Buddhist culture during the Kushan period was found in Tolharistan.
In the middle of the 2nd century, the Kushan empire under king Kaniṣka expanded into Central Asia and went as far as taking control of Kashgar, Khotan and Yarkand, in the Tarim Basin, modern Xinjiang. As a consequence, cultural exchanges greatly increased, and Central Asian Buddhist missionaries became active shortly after in the Chinese capital cities of Luoyang and sometimes Nanjing, where they particularly distinguished themselves by their translation work. They promoted both Hīnayāna and Mahāyāna scriptures.
 Early Buddhist schools
A number of Early Buddhist schools were historically prevalent throughout Central Asia. A number of scholars identify three distinct major phases of missionary activities seen in the history of Buddhism in Central Asia, which are associated with the following sects (chronologically):
 Dharmaguptaka, Mahīśāsaka, Kāśyapīya
The Dharmaguptaka made more efforts than any other sect to spread Buddhism outside India, to areas such as Iran, Central Asia, and China, and they had great success in doing so. Therefore, most countries which adopted Buddhism from China, also adopted the Dharmaguptaka vinaya and ordination lineage for bhikṣus and bhikṣuṇīs. According to A.K. Warder, in some ways in those East Asian countries, the Dharmaguptaka sect can be considered to have survived to the present. Warder further writes:
It was the Dharmaguptakas who were the first Buddhists to establish themselves in Central Asia. They appear to have carried out a vast circling movement along the trade routes from Aparānta north-west into Iran and at the same time into Oḍḍiyāna (the Suvastu valley, north of Gandhāra, which became one of their main centres). After establishing themselves as far west as Parthia they followed the "silk route", the east-west axis of Asia, eastwards across Central Asia and on into China, where they effectively established Buddhism in the second and third centuries A.D. The Mahīśāsakas and Kāśyapīyas appear to have followed them across Asia into China. [...] For the earlier period of Chinese Buddhism it was the Dharmaguptakas who constituted the main and most influential school, and even later their Vinaya remained the basis of the discipline there.
In the 7th century CE, Yijing grouped the Mahīśāsaka, Dharmaguptaka, and Kāśyapīya together as sub-sects of the Sarvāstivāda, and stated that these three were not prevalent in the "five parts of India," but were located in the some parts of Oḍḍiyāna, Khotan, and Kucha.
 Later History
Other religious kings, such as the 16th century Mongol potentate Altan Khan, invited Buddhist teachers to their realm and proclaimed Buddhism the official creed of the land in order to help unify their people and consolidate their rule. In the process they may have prohibited certain practices of non-Buddhist, indigenous religions and even persecuted those who followed them, but these heavy-handed moves were primarily politically motivated. Such ambitious rulers never forced their subjects to adopt Buddhist forms of belief or worship. This is not part of the religious creed.
 Buddhist percentage by country
Here is the percentages of Buddhists in some nowaday Central Asia countries from many different sources:
|National flag||Country||Population(2007E)||% of Buddhists||Buddhist total|
 Buddhism in Uzbekistan
 See also
- The History of Buddhism in India and central Asia
- About religion in Central Asia
- Williman, Charles. Dessein, Bart. Cox, Collett. Sarvastivada Buddhist Scholasticism. 1997. p. 126
- Warder, A.K. Indian Buddhism. 2000. p. 278
- Warder, A.K. Indian Buddhism. 2000. p. 489
- Warder, A.K. Indian Buddhism. 2000. pp. 280-281
- Yijing. Li Rongxi (translator). Buddhist Monastic Traditions of Southern Asia. 2000. p. 19