Silk Road transmission of Buddhism
Buddhism entered Han China via the Silk Road, beginning in the 1st or 2nd century CE. The first documented translation efforts by Buddhist monks in China (all foreigners) were in the 2nd century CE, possibly as a consequence of the expansion of the Greco-Buddhist Kushan Empire into the Chinese territory of the Tarim Basin.Direct contact between Central Asian and Chinese Buddhism continued throughout the 3rd to 7th century, well into Tang period. From the 4th century onward, with Faxian's pilgrimage to India (395–414), and later Xuanzang (629–644), Chinese pilgrims started to travel by themselves to northern India, their source of Buddhism, in order to get improved access to original scriptures. Much of the land route connecting northern India with China at that time was ruled by the Buddhist Kushan Empire, and later the Hephthalite Empire, see Gandhara. During these centuries, the combination of Indian Buddhism with Western influences (Greco-Buddhism) gave rise to the various distinct schools of Buddhism in Central Asia and in China.China was later reached by the Indian form of ""esoteric Buddhism"" (Vajrayana) in the 7th century. Tibetan Buddhism was likewise established as a branch of Vajrayana, in the 8th century. But from about this time, the Silk Road transmission of Buddhism began to decline with the Muslim conquest of Transoxiana, resulting in the Uyghur Khaganate by the 740s.By this time, Indian Buddhism itself was in decline, due to the rise of Hinduism on one hand and due to the Muslim expansion on the other, while Tang-era Chinese Buddhism was repressed in the 9th century, but not before in its turn giving rise to Korean and Japanese traditions.