Just the facts on religion.

History of Buddhism

Buddhist history begins with the life and teachings of an Indian prince named Siddharta Gautama, who lived around 500 BCE. According to Buddhist tradition, the sheltered young prince was shocked by the suffering he saw outside his palace walls, so he left his life of luxury to seek answers. Eventually he succeeded, becoming the Buddha--the "Enlightened One." He spent the remaining 45 years of his life teaching the dharma (the path to liberation from suffering) and establishing the sangha (a community of monks).

  • Buddhism in the Hellenistic World

    The interaction between Hellenistic Greece and Buddhism started when Alexander the Great conquered Asia Minor and Central Asia in 334 BCE, going as far as the Indus, thus establishing direct contact with India, the birthplace of Buddhism... full article →
  • Buddhist Monasticism

    Monasticism (the sangha) has been a central practice of Buddhism since the very beginning. full article →
  • Emperor Asoka's Conversion to Buddhism

    Around 270 BCE, a warrior named Asoka (sometimes spelled Ashoka) became emperor of the powerful Mauryan dynasty in India. Emperor Asoka began his reign by working to expand the empire his grandfather had established... full article →
  • First Buddhist Council

    After the Buddha's death, his disciple Mahakasyapa took over leadership of the Sangha. One of Mahakasyapa's first acts as the new Buddhist leader was to convene a council of 500 arhats to collect and preserve the teachings of Buddha... full article →
  • Life of the Buddha

    The details of the Buddha's life are not known for certain, but most scholars are in agreement that he was an actual historical figure who lived in northern India around the 5th century BCE... full article →
  • Second Buddhist Council

    As so often happens, along with the increasing numbers of Buddhism came increasing disagreements. Within 100 years of the Buddha's death, significant disputes arose, primarily in the areas of monastic discipline... full article →
  • Spread of Buddhism to SE Asia

    In the 2nd century BCE, Asoka's emissaries (perhaps including Asoka's son Mahinda) went to Sri Lanka, an island southeast of the Indian subcontinent... full article →