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History of Buddhism



1989 AD -Dalai Lama receives Nobel Peace Prize
1971 AD -First Tibetan (Sakya) center founded USA by Venerable Chogyam Trungpa.
1967 AD -Thich Naht Hanh nominated by Dr. Martin Luther King for the Nobel Peace Prize
1966 AD -First Theravadan monastery in USA
1963 AD -Thich Naht Hanh initiates the Socially Engaged Buddhist movement
1959 AD -Dalai Lama flees Tibet
1956 AD -Revival of Buddhism in India by Dr. B R Ambedkar
1930 AD -Chan Master Sokei-An moves to, and teaches in America
1893 AD -World Parliament of Religions – Chicago, Illinois. The Venerable Anagarika Dharmapala, a Burmese monk, was the first Buddhist to visit three continents (Asia, America, Europe) to speak of the dharma.
1881 AD -Pali Text Society founded in England by T W Rhys Davids, most of the Pali Canon is published in Pali and over the following 100 years into English
1871 AD -5th Buddhist Council Convened in Burma, and attended predominantly by Burmese Buddhist monastics, the text of the Pali Canon was revised and inscribed on marble slabs.  This resulted in a geographically separate version of Buddhist scriptures
1849 AD -Buddhism came to America with Chinese immigrants during the Gold Rush
1400s AD -First edition of the Tibetan Buddhist canon is compiled
1200s AD -Kublai Khan makes Buddhism court religion of Tibet, now part of the Mongol empireShiran (1173 – 1263) founds True Pure Land School of Japanese Buddhism
1244 AD -Soto Zen introduced in Japan by Dogen
1191 AD -Rinzai Zen introduced in Japan by Eisai
1000s AD -Atisha, monk from Nalanda, translates Sanskrit texts to Tibetan. Tibetan schools of Buddhism emerge
900s AD -First Chinese Buddhist canon is compiled in 983 AD
800-900 AD -End of Buddhist tradition in Greater Gandharan region
800s AD -Zen Buddhism emerges in Japan
700s AD -Buddhism becomes official religion of Tibet
641 – 650 AD -Buddhism introduced to Tibet, helped by King Song Tsen Gampo
618 – 907 AD -Exchanges of ideas and cultures between Central Asian Kingdoms and Buddhist India expand via the Silk Road
600 – 900 AD -Chinese height of Buddhism
527 AD -Bodhidharma arrives in China Known in China as Da Mo, Bodhidharma is the First Chan Patriarch of China
400s AD -Pure Land Buddhism becomes prominent in China
399 – 414 AD -Chinese monk Fa-hsein travels through India and Ceylon in search of Vinaya Pitaka (Books of Discipline) – Early revelations of other Buddhist Kingdoms
300s AD -First Chinese Buddhist schools are founded
100 AD end -Mathuran and Gandharan artists create Buddha as human figure. Before this it was considered disrespectful to create likenesses of the Buddha.  A throne, a pillar, an eight-spoked wheel, footprints and the lotus were used to represent him until this time
100s AD -Nagarjuna writes the Mulamadhyamakakarika and emergence of Madhyamaka school. “Since there is no dharma whatever which is not causally conditioned (not relative), no dharma whatever exits which is not empty.”  Nagarjuna Fourth Buddhist Council (2*) – Mahayana Convened by Emperor Kanishka of Kushan this council is thought secondary to the one held in Sri Lanka (*) two hundred years earlier. In Mahayana scriptures are found the differences that arose with the Sarvastivadin Abhidharma scriptures.
57-75 AD -2 Indian monks arrive in China (Han Dynasty)This, along with a dream of a golden apparition prompted Emperor Han Mingdi sends envoys to India to bring back a “sacred image”
65 AD -First example of Buddhist community in China – Han



100 BC -Fourth Council (1*) – Theravada There are two councils referred to as the Fourth, depending on the Buddhist tradition (the other around 100 CE).  According to the Thervada tradition a council was held due to the death of so many monks due to starvation during a year of poor harvests.  At that time the Pali Canon, in Sri Lanka, had not yet been transcribed from the oral tradition.  Realizing the danger of it being lost to the world they dedicated three years to writing it down. *See 100 CE
200 BC -First Buddhist sites in GandharaNo devotional objects are found, but ample evidence of Buddhist influence through architecture and ornamental carvings
272 – 237 BC -First Buddhist sites in GandharaNo devotional objects are found, but ample evidence of Buddhist influence through architecture and ornamental carvings
272 – 237 BC -King Chandragupa, grandson of Asoka, converts the province of Gandhara to Buddhism
247 BC -Bhikkhu Mahinad brings Buddhism to Sri Lanka
274 – 237 BC -The Rock Edicts of Asoka are constructed. His “Rock Edicts” and “Pillar Edicts” were inscribed (in Greek and Aramaic and Sanskrit) on rocks and stone pillars to promote Buddhism as a govermental and societal action
250 BC -3rd Buddhist Council called by Asoka at PatalipuraThe Abhidamma was recited and documented, along with parts of the Khuddaka Nikaya.  This is the genesis of the Pali Canon as we know it today
300s BC -Buddhism comes to Thailand and Cambodia. In the early part of the century legend has that King Asoka was responsible for introducing Thervada Buddhism into the Golden Peninsula including Thailand and Cambodia
300 BC -King Asoka builds stupas. He ordered that the Buddha’s remains be divided and put into stupas (shrines). Tradition says there were 84,000 constructed so that the Awakened One would be present across the land
303 BC -2nd Buddhist Council at Vesali. 100 years after the Buddha’s Parinibbana the Second Council convenes in Vesali to discuss controversial points of Vinaya. The first schism of the Sangha occurs in which the Mahasanghika school parts ways with the traditionalist Sthaviravadins. At issue is the Mahasanghika’s reluctance to accept the Suttas and the Vinaya as the final authority on the Buddha’s teachings. This schism marks the first beginnings of what would later evolve into Mahayana Buddhism, which would come to dominate Buddhism in northern Asia (China, Tibet, Japan, Korea)
331 – 327 BC -Alexander the Great in Gandhara, conquers Taxila. In this time Taxila was one of the major cities of education and higher learning
403 BC -First Council at RajagahaTradition has it that the full Canon was recited and documented but contemporary scholars believe this was not likely, though a version of Vinaya Pitaka (Monastic Rules) was codified.  It is very likely that most of the major sermons of the Buddha were documented and also codified
404 BC -Death of Buddha
449 BC -The Awakening of Siddhartha
484 BC -Birth of Siddhartha Guatama (18th and 19th C scholars 566-486,  best contemporary evidence points to 484-404 as most likely life span of the Buddha)

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