The term Black Buddhist has several possible meanings:

  1. It can be used to refer to one who follows any of the various schools of Buddhism and who is of black or African descent.[1]
  2. It can be used to refer to any of the early communities that made statuary representations of the Buddha depicting what some have interpreted as black or African features.[2] The term dates back to 1833 and was first used by Godfrey Higgins, in his work Anacalypsis. A large part of Higgins' work is an attempt to show the historical existence of an "ancient Black Nation of Buddhists in Asia." Higgins envisioned a once widespread network of communities centered in India and extending from Southeast Asia to North Africa.[3] This view is not recognized by modern historians. The commonly accepted view among modern historians holds that early Black Buddhists were likely the descendants of aboriginal populations of India whom scholars usually refer to as Dravidians.[4]
  3. It can be used to refer to one who follows the modern Black Buddhist school of Buddhism, headed by Buddhist Nation, a U. S. based organization with ties to the Dalit and Theravada movements of India and south Asia.[5][6][7]


  1. Adiele, Faith: "Meeting Faith: The Forest Journals of a Black Buddhist Nun", pg. 147. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2003.
  2. Higgins, Godfrey: "Anacalypsis: An Attempt to Draw Aside the Veil of the Saitic Isis or an Inquiry into the Origin of Languages, Nations and Religions", Vol. I, Book I, chapter IV, pg. 51. Kessinger Publishing, 2002.
  3. Ibid., Vol. I, Book V, chapter VIII, pg. 255
  4. "Sanskritization vs. Ethnicization in India: Changing Indentities and Caste Politics before Mandal", Christophe Jaffrelot, Asian Survey, Vol. 40, No. 5, Modernizing Tradition in India (Sep. - Oct., 2000), pg.758
  5. Dalit Voice, Vol. 26, No. 8, pg. 14, Bangalore, India, (Apr. 16 - 30, 2007)
  6. "Dalit Women Victims of Caste Discrimination",, April 13, 2007
  7. "Honoring The Work of Mr. V. T. Rajshekar",, Apr. 12, 2007.

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