History of Buddhism

What is the History of Buddhism?

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. The events of his life are recorded in Buddhist tradition and often lovingly illustrated in Buddhist art. Full article »

The 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 Buddha's teachings. Full article »

The Sangha

When Mahakasyapa died shortly after the First Council, Ananda became head of the sangha. During the 40 years he led the Buddhist monastic order, Buddhism spread throughout India. The Buddha had directed his disciples to teach "for the welfare of the many, out of compassion for the world," and this his disciples did. Full article »

The Second Buddhist Council

Along with increasing numbers often comes increasing disagreements. Within 100 years of the Buddha's passing, significant disputes arose, primarily in the areas of monastic discipline. To deal with these disputes, a Second Council was convened. Full article »

Conversion of Emperor Asoka

Around 270 BC, a man named Asoka became emperor of the powerful Mauryan dynasty in India. Emperor Asoka began his reign by expanding the empire his grandfather had established. He was very successful, and soon he ruled a sizeable portion of India. Full article »

Spread of Buddhism to Southeast Asia

One pair of Asoka's emissaries went to Sri Lanka, an island southeast of the Indian subcontinent. They were well-received by the local ruler, King Tissa, and Theravada Buddhism took hold there. Full article »

Spread of Buddhism to 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 history, history of Buddhism