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The purpose of this timeline is to give a detailed account of Buddhism from the birth of Gautama Buddha to the present.

Foundation to the Common EraEdit

Some sources give the date of the Buddha's birth as 563 BCE and others as 624 BCE; Theravada Buddhist countries tend to use the latter figure. This displaces all the dates in the following table about 61 years further back. See Theravada Buddhism.

There is controversy about the base date of the Buddhist Era, with 544 BC and 483 BC being advanced as the date of the parinibbana of the Buddha. As Wilhelm Geiger pointed out, the Sri Lankan chronicles, the Dipavamsa and Mahawamsa are the primary sources for ancient South Asian chronology; they date the consecration (abhisheka) of Asoka to 218 years after the parinibbana. Chandragupta Maurya ascended the throne 56 years prior to this, or 162 years after the parinibbana. The approximate date of Chandragupta's ascension is known to be within two years of 321 BC (from Megasthenes). Hence the approximate date of the parinibbana is between 485 and 481 BC - which accords well with the Mahayana dating of 483 BC.[1]

The difference between the two reckonings seems to have occurred at sometime between the reigns of the Sri Lankan kings Udaya III (946-954 or 1007-1015)and Pârakkama Pandya (c. 1046-1048), when there was considerable unrest in the country.[1]

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Timeline: Development and propagation of Buddhist traditions (ca. 450 BCE – ca. 1300 CE)

  450 BCE 250 BCE 100 CE 500 CE 700 CE 800 CE 1200 CE

 

India

Early
Sangha

 

 

 

Early Buddhist schools Mahayana Vajrayana

 

 

 

 

 

Sri Lanka &
Southeast Asia

  Theravada Buddhism

 

 
 

 

 

 

Central Asia

 

Greco-Buddhism

 

Tibetan Buddhism

 

Silk Road Buddhism

 

East Asia

  Ch'an, Tendai, Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren

Shingon

 

 

  450 BCE 250 BCE 100 CE 500 CE 700 CE 800 CE 1200 CE
  Legend:   = Theravada tradition   = Mahayana traditions   = Vajrayana traditions

Common EraEdit

  • 65: Liu Ying's sponsorship of Buddhism is the first documented case of Buddhist practices in China.
  • 67: Buddhism comes to China with the two monks Moton and Chufarlan.
  • 68: Buddhism is officially established in China with the founding of the White Horse Temple.
  • 78: Ban Chao, a Chinese General, subdues the Buddhist Kingdom of Khotan.
  • 78–101: According to Mahayana tradition, the Fourth Buddhist council takes place under Kushana king Kanishka's reign, near Jalandar, India.
  • 116 CE: The Kushans, under Kanishka, establish a kingdom centered on Kashgar, also taking control of Khotan and Yarkand—previously Chinese dependencies in the Tarim Basin, modern Xinjiang.
  • 148: An Shigao, a Parthian prince and Buddhist monk, arrives in China and proceeds to make the first translations of Theravada texts into Chinese.
  • 178: The Kushan monk Lokaksema travels to the Chinese capital of Loyang and becomes the first known translator of Mahayana texts into Chinese.
  • 100s/200s: Indian and Central Asian Buddhists travel to Vietnam.
  • 200s: Use of Kharoṣṭhī script in Gandhara stops.
  • 200s & 300s: Kharoṣṭhī script is used in the southern Silk Road cities of Khotan and Niya.
  • 296: The earliest surviving Chinese Buddhist scripture dates from this year (Zhu Fo Yao Ji Jing, discovered in Dalian, late 2005).
  • 300s: Two Chinese monks take scriptures to the Korean kingdom of Goguryeo and establish papermaking in Korea.
  • 320-467: The University at Nalanda grows to support 3,000–10,000 monks.
  • 399-414: Fa Xian travels from China to India, then returns to translate Buddhist works into Chinese.
  • 400s: The kingdom of Funan (centered in modern Cambodia) begins to advocate Buddhism in a departure from Hinduism. Earliest evidence of Buddhism in Myanmar (Pali inscriptions). Earliest evidence of Buddhism in Indonesian (statues). Earliest reinterpretations of Pali texts. The stupa at Dambulla (Sri Lanka) is constructed.
  • 402: At the request of Yao Xing, Kumarajiva travels to Changan and translates many Buddhist texts into Chinese.
  • 403: In China, Hui Yuan argues that Buddhist monks should be exempt from bowing to the emperor.
  • 405: Yao Xing honours Kumarajiva.
  • 425: Buddhism reaches Sumatra.
  • 464: Buddhabhadra reaches China to preach Buddhism.
  • 495: The Shaolin temple is built in the name of Buddhabhadra, by edict of emperor Wei Xiao Wen.[4][5]
  • 485: Five monks from Gandhara travel to the country of Fusang (Japan, or possibly the American continent), where they introduce Buddhism.
  • 500s: Zen adherents enter Vietnam from China. Jataka stories are translated into Persian by order of the Zoroastrian king, Khosrau I of Persia.
  • 527: Bodhidharma settles into the Shaolin monastery in Henan province of China.[6]
  • 552: Buddhism is introduced to Japan via Baekje (Korea), according to Nihonshoki; some scholars place this event in 538.
  • Early 600s: Jingwan begins carving sutras onto stone at Fangshan, Yuzhou, 75 km southwest of modern-day Beijing.
  • 607: A Japanese imperial envoy is dispatched to Sui, China to obtain copies of sutras.
  • 600s: Xuan Zang travels to India, noting the persecution of Buddhists by Sasanka (king of Gouda, a state in northwest Bengal) before returning to Chang An in China to translate Buddhist scriptures. End of sporadic Buddhist rule in the Sindh. King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet sends messengers to India to get Buddhist texts. Latest recorded use of the Kharoṣṭhī script amongst Buddhist communities around Kucha.
  • 671: Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Yi Jing visits Palembang, capital of the partly Buddhist kingdom of Srivijaya on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, and reports over 1000 Buddhist monks in residence. Uisang returns to Korea after studying Chinese Huayan Buddhism and founds the Hwaeom school.
  • 736: Huayan is transmitted to Japan via Korea, when Rōben invites the Korean Hwaeom monk Simsang to lecture, and formally founds Japan's Kegon tradition in the Tōdaiji temple.
  • 743–754: The Chinese monk Jianzhen attempts to reach Japan eleven times, succeeding in 754 to establish the Japanese Ritsu school, which specialises in the vinaya (monastic rules).
  • 700s: Buddhist Jataka stories are translated in to Syriac and Arabic as Kalilag and Damnag. An account of Buddha's life is translated into Greek by John of Damascus and widely circulated to Christians as the story of Barlaam and Josaphat. By the 1300s, this story of Josaphat becomes so popular that he is made a Catholic saint.
  • 700s: Under the reign of King Trisong Deutsen, Padmasambhava travels from Afghanistan to establish tantric Buddhism in Tibet (later known as the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism), replacing Bonpo as the kingdom's main religion. Buddhism quickly spreads to Sikkim and Bhutan.
  • c. 760: Construction is begun on Borobodur, the famous Indonesian Buddhist structure, probably as a non-Buddhist shrine. It is completed as a Buddhist monument in 830, after about 50 years of work.
  • 804: Under the reign of Emperor Kammu of Japan, a fleet of four ships sets sail for mainland China. Of the two ships that arrive, one carries the monk Kūkai—recently ordained by the Japanese government as a Bhiksu—who absorbs Vajrayana teachings in Chang'an and returns to Japan to found the Japanese Shingon school. The other ship carries the monk Saichō, who returns to Japan to found the Japanese Tendai school, partly based upon the Chinese Tiantai tradition.
  • 838–847: Ennin, a priest of the Tendai school, travels in China for nine years. He reaches both the famous Buddhist mountain of Wutaishan and the Chinese capital, Chang'an, keeping a detailed diary that is a primary source for this period of Chinese history, including the Buddhist persecution.
  • 841–846: Emperor Wuzong of the Tang Dynasty (given name: Li Yan) reigns in China; he is one of three Chinese emperors to prohibit Buddhism. From 843-845, Wuzong carries out the Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution, permanently weakening the institutional structure of Buddhism in China.
  • 9th-century Tibet: Decline of Buddhism; persecution by King Langdarma.
  • 900s: Buddhist temple construction commences at Bagan, Myanmar. In Tibet, a strong Buddhist revival is begun. The Caodong school of Zen is founded by Dongshan Liangjie and his disciples in southern China.
  • 971: Chinese Song Dynasty commissions Chengdu woodcarvers to carve the entire Buddhist canon for printing. Work is completed in 983; 130,000 blocks are produced, in total.
  • 991: A printed copy of the Song Dynasty Buddhist canon arrives in Korea, impressing the government.
  • 1000s: Marpa, Konchog Gyalpo, Atisha, and others introduce the Sarma lineages into Tibet.
  • 1009: Vietnam's Ly Dynasty begins, which is partly brought about by an alliance with the Buddhist monkhood. Ly emperors patronize Mahayana Buddhism, in addition to traditional spirits.
  • 1010: Korea begins carving its own woodblock print edition of the Buddhist canon. No completion date is known; the canon is continuously expanded, with the arrival of new texts from China.
  • 1017: In Southeast Asia, and especially in Sri Lanka, the Bhikkhuni (Buddhist nuns) Order dies out due to invasions. The bhikkhu line in Sri Lanka is later revived with bhikkhus from Burma.
  • 1025: Srivijaya, a Buddhist kingdom based in Sumatra, is raided by the Chola empire of southern India; it survives, but declines in importance. Shortly after the raid, the centre of the kingdom moves northward from Palembang to Jambi-Melayu.
  • 1044–1077: In Burma, Pagan's first king Anoratha reigns. He converts the country to Theravada Buddhism with the aid of monks and books from Sri Lanka. He is said to have been converted to Theravada Buddhism by a Mon monk, though other beliefs persist.
  • 1057: Anawrahta of Myanmar captures Thaton in northern Thailand, strengthening Theravada Buddhism in the country.
  • 1063: A copy of the Khitans' printed canon arrives in Korea from mainland China.
  • 1084–1113: In Myanmar, Pagan's second king, Kyanzittha (son of Anawrahta), reigns. He completes the building of the Shwezigon pagoda, a shrine for relics of the Buddha, including a tooth brought from Sri Lanka. Various inscriptions refer to him as an incarnation of Vishnu, a chakravartin, a bodhisattva, and dharmaraja.
  • 1100s: Sanskrit is subsequently written in Devanagari.
  • 1100–1125: Huizong reigns during the Chinese Song Dynasty and outlaws Buddhism to promote the Dao. He is one of three Chinese emperors to have prohibited Buddhism.
  • 1113: Alaungsithu reigns in Pagan, Myanmar until his son Narathu smothers him to death and assumes the throne.
  • 1133–1212: Hōnen establishes Pure Land Buddhism as an independent sect in Japan.
  • 1181: The self-styled bodhisattva Jayavarman VII, a devout follower of Mahayana Buddhism (though he also patronised Hinduism), assumes control of the Khmer kingdom. He constructs the Bayon, the most prominent Buddhist structure in the Angkor temple complex. This sets the stage for the later conversion of the Khmer people to Theravada Buddhism.
  • 1190: In Myanmar, Anawrahta's lineage regains control with the assistance of Sri Lanka. Pagan has been in anarchy. The new regime reforms Burmese Buddhism on Sri Lankan Theravada models.
  • Late 1100s: The great Buddhist educational centre at Nalanda,India, (the origin of Buddhism) where various subjects were taught subjects such as Buddhism, Logic, Philosophy, Law, Medicine, Grammar, Yoga, Mathematics, Alchemy, and Astrology, is sacked, looted and burnt by islamic invaders. Nalanda is supported by kings of several dynasties and serves as a great international centre of learning.
  • 1200s: Theravada overtakes Mahayana—previously practised alongside Hinduism—as the dominant form of Buddhism in Cambodia; Sri Lanka is an influence in this change. In Persia, the historian Rashid al-Din records some eleven Buddhist texts circulating in Arabic translation, amongst which the Sukhavati-vyuha and Karanda-vyuha Sutras are recognizable. Portions of the Samyutta and Anguttara-Nikayas, along with parts of the Maitreya-vyakarana, are identified in this collection.
  • 1222: Birth of Nichiren Daishonin (1222–1282), the Japanese founder of Nichiren Buddhism.
  • c. 1238: The Thai Kingdom of Sukhothai is established, with Theravada Buddhism as the state religion.
  • 1227: Dogen Zenji takes the Caodong school of Zen from China to Japan as the Soto sect.
  • 1244: Eiheiji Soto Zen Temple and Monastery are established by Dogen Zenji.
  • 1277: Burma's Pagan empire begins to disintegrate after being defeated by Kublai Khan at the Battle of Ngasaunggyan, at Yunnan, near the Chinese border.
  • 1285: Arghun makes the Il-Khanate a Buddhist state.
  • 1287: The Theravada kingdom at Pagan, Myanmar falls to the Mongols and is overshadowed by the Shan capital at Ava.
  • c. 1279–1298: Sukhothai's third and most famous ruler, Ramkhamhaeng (Rama the Bold), reigns and makes vassals of Laos, much of modern Thailand, Pegu (Burma), and parts of the Malay Peninsula, thus giving rise to Sukhothai artistic tradition. After Ramkhamhaeng's death, Sukhothai loses control of its territories as its vassals become independent.
  • 1295: Mongol leader Ghazan Khan is converted to Islam, ending a line of Tantric Buddhist leaders.
  • 1305–1316: Buddhists in Persia attempt to convert Uldjaitu Khan.
  • 1321: Sojiji Soto Zen Temple and Monastery established by Keizan Zenji.
  • 1351: In Thailand, U Thong, possibly the son of a Chinese merchant family, establishes Ayutthaya as his capital and takes the name of Ramathibodi.
  • 1391–1474: Gyalwa Gendun Drubpa, first Dalai Lama of Tibet.
  • 1405–1431: The Chinese eunuch admiral Zheng He makes seven voyages in this period, through southeast Asia, India, the Persian Gulf, East Africa, and Egypt. At the time, Buddhism is well-established in China, so visited peoples may have had exposure to Chinese Buddhism.
  • 1578: Altan Khan of the Tümed gives the title of Dalai Lama to Sonam Gyatso (later known as the third Dalai Lama).
  • 1600s & 1700s: When Vietnam divides during this period, the Nguyen rulers of the south choose to support Mahayana Buddhism as an integrative ideology for the ethnically plural society of their kingdom, which is also populated by Chams and other minorities.
  • 1614: The Toyotomi family rebuilds a great image of Buddha at the Temple of Hōkōji in Kyōtō.
  • 1615: The Oirat Mongols convert to the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism.
  • 1635: In Zanabazar, the first Jebtsundamba Khutughtu is born as a great-grandson of Abadai Khan of the Khalkha.
  • 1642: Güüshi Khan of the Khoshuud donates the sovereignty of Tibet to the fifth Dalai Lama.
  • 1766–67: In Thailand, many Buddhist texts are destroyed as the Burmese invade Ayutthaya.
  • 1800s: In Thailand, King Mongkut—himself a former monk—conducts a campaign to reform and modernise the monkhood, a movement that has continued in the present century under the inspiration of several great ascetic monks from the northeast part of the country.
  • 1802–20: Nguyen Anh comes to the throne of the first united Vietnam; he succeeds by quelling the Tayson rebellion in south Vietnam with help from Rama I in Bangkok, then takes over the north from the remaining Trinh. After coming to power, he creates a Confucianist orthodox state and is eager to limit the competing influence of Buddhism. He forbids adult men to attend Buddhist ceremonies.
  • 1820–41: Minh Mang reigns in Vietnam, further restricting Buddhism. He insists that all monks be assigned to cloisters and carry identification documents. He also places new restrictions on printed material and begins the persecution of Catholic missionaries and converts that his successors (not without provocation) continue.
  • c. 1860: In Sri Lanka, against all expectations, the monastic and lay communities bring about a major revival in Buddhism, a movement that goes hand in hand with growing nationalism; the revival follows a period of persecution by foreign powers. Since then, Buddhism has flourished, and Sri Lankan monks and expatriate lay people have been prominent in spreading Theravada Buddhism in Asia, the West, and even in Africa.
  • 1879: A council is convened under the patronage of King Mindon Min of Burma to re-edit the Pali canon. The king has the texts engraved on 729 stones, which are then set upright on the grounds of a monastery near Mandalay.
  • 1882: Jade Buddha Temple is founded in Shanghai, China, with two Jade Buddha statues imported from Burma.
  • 1893: The World Parliament of Religions meets in Chicago, Illinois; Anagarika Dharmapala and Soyen Shaku attend.
  • 1896: Using Fa Xian's records, Nepalese archaeologists rediscover the great stone pillar of Ashoka at Lumbini.
  • 1899: Gordon Douglas is ordained in Myanmar; he is the first Westerner to be ordained in the Theravada tradition.
  • 1922: Zenshuji Soto Mission is founded as the first Soto Zen temple in North America.
  • 1930: Soka Gakkai is founded in Japan.
  • 1949: Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya is returned to partial Buddhist control.
  • 1950: World Fellowship of Buddhists is founded in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
  • 1954: The Sixth Buddhist Council is held in Yangon, Myanmar, organized by U Nu. It ends in time for the 2500th anniversary of the passing of the Buddha.
  • 1956: Indian untouchable leader B.R. Ambedkar converts to Buddhism, with more than 350,000 followers—beginning the modern Neo-Buddhist movement.
  • 1956: The Zen Studies Society is founded in New York to support the work of D.T. Suzuki.
  • 1957: Caves near the summit of Pai-tai mountain, Fangshan district, 75km southwest of Beijing, are reopened, revealing thousands of Buddhist sutras that had been carved onto stone since the 7th century. Seven sets of rubbings are made, and the stones are numbered, in work that continues until 1959.
  • 1959: Together with some 100,000 Tibetans, the 14th Dalai Lama flees the Chinese occupation of Tibet and establishes an exile community in India. The Chinese invaders completely destroy all but a handful of monasteries and severely persecute Buddhist practitioners.
  • 1962: The San Francisco Zen Center is founded by Shunryu Suzuki.
  • 1963: Thích Quảng Đức immolates himself to protest the oppression of the Buddhist religion by Ngo Dinh Diem.
  • 1965: The Burmese government arrests over 700 monks in Hmawbi, near Rangoon, for refusing to accept government rule.
  • 1966: The World Buddhist Sangha Council is convened by Theravadins in Sri Lanka with the hope of bridging differences and working together. The first convention is attended by leading monks from many countries and sects, Mahayana as well as Theravada. Nine Basic Points Unifying the Theravada and Mahayana are written by Ven. Walpola Rahula are approved unanimously.
  • 1970s: Indonesian Archaeological Service and UNESCO restore Borobodur.
  • 1974: Wat Pah Nanachat, the first monastery dedicated to providing training and support for western Buddhist monks, is founded in Thailand by Venerable Ajahn Chah. The monks trained here would later establish branch monasteries throughout the world.
  • 1974: The Naropa Institute (now Naropa University) is founded in Boulder, Colorado.
  • 1974: In Burma, during demonstrations at U Thant's funeral, 600 monks are arrested and several are bayoneted by government forces.
  • 1975: Lao Communist rulers attempt to change attitudes to religion—in particular, calling on monks to work, not beg. This causes many to return to lay life, but Buddhism remains popular.
  • 1975: The Insight Meditation Society is established in Barre, Massachusetts.
  • 1975–79: Cambodian Communists under Pol Pot try to completely destroy Buddhism, and very nearly succeed. By the time of the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1978, nearly every monk and religious intellectual has been either murdered or driven into exile, and nearly every temple and Buddhist library has been destroyed.
  • 1976: Following a demonstration in Burma, the government seeks to discredit the critical monk La Ba by claiming that he is a cannibal and a murderer.
  • 1978: In Burma, more monks and novices are arrested, disrobed, and imprisoned by the government. Monasteries are closed and property seized. The critical monk U Nayaka is arrested and dies, the government claiming it is suicide.
  • 1980: The Burmese military government asserts authority over the sangha, and violence against monks continues through the decade.
  • 1983: The Shanghai Institute of Buddhism is established at Jade Buddha Temple, under the Shanghai Buddhist Association.
  • 1988: During the 1988 uprising, SPDC troops gun down monks. After the uprising, U Nyanissara, a senior monk, records a tape that discusses democracy in Buddhist precepts; the tape is banned.
  • 1990, August 27: Over 7000 monks meet in Mandalay, in Burma, to call for a boycott of the military. They refuse to accept alms from military families or perform services for them. The military government seizes monasteries and arrests hundreds of monks, including senior monks U Sumangala and U Yewata. The monks face long-term imprisonment, and all boycotting monks are disrobed; some monks are tortured during interrogation.
  • 1992: The Buddha Statue in Hyderabad, India is installed, a work of former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Late Sri N.T. Rama Rao. The 16-meter tall, 350-ton monolithic colossus rises high from the placid waters of picturesque Husain Sagar Lake. It is made of white granite, finely sculptured and stands majestically amidst the shimmering waters of the lake. It is later consecrated by Dalai Lama.
  • 1996, India: The Bhikkhuni (Buddhist nuns) Order and lineage is revived in Sarnath, India through the efforts of Sakyadhita, an International Buddhist Women Association. The revival is done with some resistance from some of the more literal interpreters of the Buddhist Vinaya (monastic code) and lauded by others in the community.
  • 1998, January 25: Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) terrorists commit a deadly suicide attack on Sri Lanka's most sacred Buddhist site and a UNESCO World Heritage centre: the Temple of the Tooth, where Buddha's tooth relic is enshrined. Eight civilians are killed and 25 others are injured and significant damage is done to the temple structure, which was first constructed in 1592 AD.
  • 2001, May: Two of the world's tallest ancient Buddha statues, the Buddhas of Bamyan, are completely destroyed by the Taliban in Bamyan, Afghanistan.
  • 2004, April: In Sri Lanka, Buddhist monks acting as candidates for the Jaathika Hela Urumaya party win nine seats in elections.
  • 2006, April 13 to 16: First World Buddhist Forum held in People's Republic of China.
  • 2006, November: In the United States, two Buddhists are elected for the first time to the 110th Congress.
  • 2007 (September) Thousands of Burmese Buddhist monks and nuns protest against the military regime; the military regime responds with a bloody crackdown. Thousands are arrested, and hundreds flee to Thailand and India; the death toll is in the hundreds.
  • 2007, October 17: The U.S. Congress presents the 14th Dalai Lama with the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal and meets in public with President George W. Bush.
  • 2008 (March): Tibetan monks protest in Lhasa, and many Tibetans join in calling for the end of Chinese rule. Many Chinese businesses are attacked and burned. The Chinese respond by sending in troops and ordering a strict lockdown of the capital city of Lhasa. Many Tibetans are killed, with the death toll maybe over a hundred. Outraged, thousands of exiled Tibetans around the world protest.
  • 2009, March 28 to April 1: Second World Buddhist Forum held in China.

NotesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Geiger (Tr)Ārya 'ṣṭāṅga mārgaḥ, Wilhelm (1912). The Mahawamsa or Great Chronicle of Ceylon. Oxford: Oxford University Press (for the Pali Text Society). pp. 300. http://lakdiva.org/culavamsa/vol_0.html. 
  2. INDOLOGY - The Dating of the Historical Buddha: A Review Article
  3. Baldev Kumar (1973). Exact source needed!
  4. Kungfu History at EasternMartialArts.com
  5. Canzonieri, Salvatore (February–March 1998). "History of Chinese Martial Arts: Jin Dynasty to the Period of Disunity". Han Wei Wushu 3 (9). 
  6. [1] The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu: The Secrets of Kung Fu for Self-Defense, Health and Enlightenment by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
In the late 1990s five books were found in the south eastern part of Georgia.They were believed to be parts of a collection of the 500 Buddhist Luohan Rubbings.They are said to have been saved from the Cultural Revolution War were they were destroying temples and ancient religious books in China  in1966-1969.These rubbings are from stone carvings that were made in the late 1700s and the books are about two hundred years old.For more information contact me at latoyagbaskin@yahoo.com.

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