26 CENTURIES OF BUDDHISM

A Chronology of Events of the Buddha Dhamma

{Based on 624 B.C. as the D.O.B of the Buddha and 589 B.C as the year when the Buddha attained Enlightenment}

BC/AD B.E IMPORTANT EVENTS
624 B.C Birth of the Future Buddha

    The Bodhisatta or Buddha-to-be, was born in Lumbini (in present-day Nepal) as Siddhattha, a prince of the Sakya clan. He was born a prince (c. 563 BC; Kapilavastu, Nepal) into the Gautama family of the Sakya clan.

595 B.C Renunciation

     During one of his few excursions from the protection of his father’s palace, Prince Siddhattha saw an old man, a sick man, a dead man, which shocked him greatly. This revelation caused him to begin a search for truth and He renounced the householder life. (age 29)

589 B.C Attainment of Buddhahood

   The Future Buddha, the ascetic Siddhattha,sat cross-legged at the foot of the Bodhi tree with the firm resolution that he would not get up from his seat until he attained the supreme wisdom of a Buddha, and went into deep meditation. On Wednesday the full moon day of Vesakha (April-May) 589 B.C., He attained the Supreme Enlightenment of a Buddha.(Age 35)

589 B.C The First Discourse

    The Buddha went to the Deer Park at Isipatana near Benares, in Ancient India/ Nepal, about 18 yojanas (1 yojana =about 8 miles) away and preached his First Sermon, ‘Dhammacakkappavattana’to this “Group of Five Disciples” before sunset on the full moon day of ‘Waso’ (June-July). Kondanna was established in the first noble stage of theAriyan Path; i.e., the Sotapatti stage of Ariyahood.

589 BC

The Second Discourse

   The Second Discourse,  Anattalakkhana Sutta , followed the first one. At the end of this Discourse about Anatta (soullessness), all five Ascetics attained Arahantship. ‘The Buddhas of Bamiyan’

589 BC

First Missionaries

 After the Buddha had kept his retreat at the Deer Park at Isipatana during the first rainy season, there were fully sixty Arahants besides the Blessed One. “O Bhikkhus, wander for the gain of the many, for the good of the many, for the gain and welfare of gods and men. Preach, O Bhikkhus, the doctrine which is glorious in the beginning, glorious in the middle, glorious at the end, in spirit and in letter. Proclaim the Holy Life altogether perfect and pure. There are beings with a little dust in their eyes, who, not hearing the Doctrine will fall away. There will be those who will understand the Doctrine”. With this exhortation the Buddha despatched His first missionary monks abroad.

544 B.C 1 B.E PARINIBBANA

     From the date of His Enlightenment, the Buddha’s successful ministry lasted 45 years. When He attained His 80th year the Buddha had an attack of dysentery and lay down on a couch with its head to the north between twin sal-trees in the Sala Grove of Kusinara State.(now Kusinagar, India) (age 80)

    Just before the Buddha passed away, he made a resolute wish that, “the bones of my body may be left over as relics in small bits” so that posterity may reverence them. Then as agreed by the rulers of the eight states, Dona the Brahmin Teacher distributed the sacred relics to them. They took the relies away and placed them inside pagodas and shrines and revered them as objects of worship.

544 BC 1 B.E The First Buddhist Council

     Subhadda, who became a bhikkhu in his old age, disparaged the Buddha’s Teachings on the seventh day after the Buddha had passed away. ” Venerable Mahakassapa was very alarmed and concerned about the future of the Buddha’s Teachings. He suggested to hold a Council of leading Arahants to collect, classify and rehearse the teachings of the Buddha in order to protect and fortify the Buddha’s Teachings. King Ajatasattu was informed of the intention of the Samgha, and with his help, the First Buddhist council was held in Sattapanni Cave Pavilion at Mount Vebhara at Rajagaha with 500 Arahants, including Venerable Upali and Venerable Ananda. It started on the fifth waning day of ‘Wagaung’(August) and lasted seven months. Venerable Ananda who had the special privilege of hearing all the discourses of the Buddha recited the Dhamma (Suttas), whilst the Venerable Upali recited the Vinaya, the disciplinary rules of conduct for the Samgha.

444 B.C 100 B.E The Second Buddhist Council

     The Second Council was held at Valukarama monastery, near the city of Vesali in 100 B.E. (443 B.C), during King Kalasoka. It was held because the bhikkhus of the Vajji clan from Vesali preached and practised ten unlawful modifications in the Rules of the Order (Vinaya). The seven hundred arahats led by Venerable Yasa. Venerable Sabbakami and Venerable Revata took part in that council while King Kalasoka and the people gave necessary supports to that council, it lasted eight months. The first schism of the Sangha occurs, in which the Mahasanghika school parted ways with the traditionalist Sthaviravadins.The orthodox monks said nothing should be changed while others insisted on modifying some rules. In this Second Council, only Vinaya matters were discussed and no controversy about the Dhamma was reported. But after this Council, different schools of Buddhism emerged.

270 BC King Asoka of India

       King Asoka was the third emperor of the Mauryan dynasty of India and the best known ancient ruler of India, born in 304 BC and came to the throne in 270 BC, after a power struggle that resulted in the death of one of his brothers. In 260 BC, Asoka attacked Kalinga (present day Orissa) and was successful, but resulted in a horrible loss of life. In remorse for his bloody attack on Kalinga, Asoka renounced war forever and became a Buddhist. He sent missionaries to South East Asia, Cyrene (present day Libya), Egypt, Syria, and Macedonia. His son, Mahinda, became a Theraveda monk and was sent to introduce Buddhism to Sri Lanka. Buddhism became a dominant religious force under Asoka. Some of Asoka’s edicts, carved on pillars and rocks, form the earliest known epigraphs in the subcontinent and there are 20 known pillars that Asoka commissioned. These pillars display Buddhist symbols such as the wheel and the lion. Asoka had a sculpture of four lions placed on top of each of his pillars. These lions remain a national symbol of India today. He was the first powerful monarch to practice Buddhism. He united most of the subcontinent and introduced it to Buddhism.

250 BC (308) 294 B.E (235) The Third Buddhist Council

    The Third Council was held at Asokarama Monastery in the city of Pataliputta in India. Sixty thousand ascetics infiltrated into the Sangha Order, polluted the Sasana by their corrupt lives and heretical views. That is the main reason why the Third Council was held by one thousand arahats in order to protect the Sasana. At this Council, differences in the Dhamma as well as the Vinaya were discussed. The President of the Council was Venerable Moggaliputta Tissa and a book called Kathavatthu was written, refuting the heretical, false views and theories held by some disciples.

     Venerable Mahamoggaliputta Tissa presided over the council and King Siridhamm Asoka of Pataliputta gave the necessary support to the council. It lasted nine months. After the Third Council, nine missions were sent to nine different places to propagate the Sasana. The mission of five arahats to Suvannabhumi, believed to be Burma (Myanmar), was led by Venerable Sona Thera and Venerable Uttara Thera. The teaching approved and accepted by this council was known as Theravada. The Abhidhamma Pitaka was also discussed and included at this Council.

3rd Century B.C. Buddhism in Afghanistan

    Buddhism was believed to have been introduced to Afghanistan in the third century B.C. by Emperor Asoka. It found fertile soil in the former Gandhara province (nowadays, East Afghanistan and North Pakistan) around the first and second centuries A.D. under the rule of the great Kushan ruler Kanishka. Buddhist monks came and went, teaching their religion along the Chinese Silk Route. In the second century AD with the ascension of Kanishka to the throne, Afghanistan became a great seat of Buddhist learning and the arts. From this pivotal centre Buddhism reached Sinkiang, China and Mongolia. Kanishka became a Buddhist. During his long and epoch-making rulership (120 to 160 AD), Buddhism and Buddhist art and culture became the life-blood of his far-flung empire.

    There were evidence of flourishing Buddhism in year 2 B.C. in Yueh-chi, the ancient Afghanistan, as a Chinese diplomat was recorded to have sent certain Buddhist Texts to China from that area. The inscriptions on urns and earthen jars reveled the donors of non-indian races, viz: Greeks, Persians, etc. The Buddhist monuments are strewn along the tract of the great highway along the Kabul Valley. The Colossal Buddha statues, the Buddhas of Bamiyan, each Buddha being over 200 feet in height (53 metre and 38 metre high, respectively), were discovered in the Bamiyan Valley, situated 230 km NW of Kabul at an altitude of 2500 metres. It was one of the major Buddhist centres from the second century up to the time that Islam entered the valley in the ninth century. Buddha of Bamiyan The two statues were hewn out of the rock (estimates of dates vary, but most probably around the fourth and fifth centuries A.D.)

     The famous Chinese pilgrim monk, Xuan Zang, visited Afghanistan in the seventh century AD. He describes that great many monasteries were ubiquitous in Bamiyan, and the smaller statue at Bamiyan. and the stupa at its feet (no longer in existence). Early in the thirteenth century, the city of Bamiyan and all its inhabitants were swept off the face of the valley by Genghis Khan, the Mongol.

     References:

     ‘Buddhism and Buddhist Monuments in Afghanistan’, JA Will Perera,The Light of Buddha Magazine, Vol. III, Burma Buddhist Society, 1958)

     ‘The Buddhas of Bamiyan’, JET VAN KRIEKEN-PIETERS, 2000.

3rd Century B.C. Buddhism in Sri Lanka

    Tradition has it that the Buddha visited the island three times to bless it . Their Chronicles also recorded the first immigrants from India reaching the island on the day of Hisparinibbana. But it was not till two centuries later that Buddhism was firmly established when the Arahant Mahinda, son of emperor Asoka, came over from India, and converted King Devanampiyatissa. Emperor Asoka despatched his daughter, Sanghamitta, who had become a nun, together with a branch of the Sacred Bodhi-Tree. Dagobhas were built all over the country to enshrine the Relics of the Buddha from the mainland India. It is believed that the first images of the Buddha were made in Sri Lanka. So Sri Lanka was converted to Buddhism in the 3d cent. B.C., and Buddhism has remained its national religion.

    Maha Vihara of Great Minister at Anuradhapura and Abhayagiri Vihara were famous places. The Indian Monk, Buddhaghosa spent many years at the former and wrote many Pali Commentaries on books of Tipitaka. One of his works is the Visuddhi Magga (Path of Purity). He went across to Burma, according to Burmese tradition, to help infirm establishment of Buddhism in that land.

    The Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha arrived in A.D. 312. From the 5th to 9th centuries, missionary monks and nuns travelled from Sri Lanka to many countries in South East Asia. In the 10th century, the order of Monks and monasteries were almost wiped out by the invading Cholas from Southern India. But King Vijayabahu I drove them away in A.D. 1055 and invited 20 elders from Burma ( then called Ramanna) to restore the Sasana in Ceylon.

     Reference:

Dr. G.P. Malalasekara, ‘Buddhism in Ceylon’, The Light of Buddha Magazine, Vol. III, No.8, Burma Buddhist Society, 1958) .

150 B.C First Record of the Pali Canon

     The Buddhism Canon is reduced to writing.

94 B.C (80) 450 B.E (464) The Fourth Buddhist Council

     The Fourth Council was held at Cave Aloka in Malaya district, Sri Lanka, in 450 B.E (94 B.C)(80 B.C by some).

     The people of Sri Lanka were hard hit by rebels, hunger and starvation for twelve years. So the Bhikkhus had to make strong efforts to maintain the Buddha’s Teachings. The elder bhikkhus foresaw that if there would appear such danger in future, the bhikkhus would not be able to memorize the discourses and the disciplines by heart because of the declination of their power of mindfulness, concentration and wisdom. Therefore, they held the Fourth Great Council.

     It was during the reign of King Vattagamani Abbaya, that five hundred bhikkhus, led by Venerable Mahadhammarakkhita, inscribed the entire words of the Buddha’s Teachings on palm leaves.

     The heads and elders as well as the people of Malaya district gave all-round support to the council. The Fourth Great Council continued for one year.

1st Century B.C Mahayana Buddhism in India

     The Mahayana emerges as a definable movement in the 1st century B.C., with the appearance of a new class of literature called the Mahayana sutras. The main philosophical tenet of the Mahayana is that all things are empty, or devoid of self-nature (sunyata). Its chief religious ideal is the bodhisattva, which supplanted the earlier ideal of the Arahant, and is distinguished from it by the vow to postpone entry into nirvana (although meriting it) until all other living beings are similarly enlightened and saved.

 

1st Century A.D Buddhism in China

     During the 1st century A.D. Buddhism entered China along trade routes from central Asia. Chinese Buddhism encountered resistance from Confucianism and Taoism.

A.D 189 732 B.E Buddhism in Vietnam

     Buddhist entered Vietnam in two significant waves. The first was a missionary wave of scholars from India during the early millennia. These were primarily Mahayana scholars. The second wave of Buddhist thought occurred about two hundred years after the common era. It is probably Chinese Master Meou-Po who was responsible for introducing Buddhism into Vietnam from China in 189 A.D. and the country was ruled by China at that time. This was a style of Buddhism filtered first through China, the Theravada school. Both of these schools of Buddhist thought co-existed throughout Vietnam.

     References:

     ‘Buddhism in Vietnam’, Mai-Tho-Truyen, The Light of Buddha Magazine, Vol. III, No. 2, Burma Buddhist Society, 1958)

     ‘Vietnamese Buddhism’, Laura Clark and Suzanne Brown.

A.D 200 744 B.E Nalanda University, India

     Buddhist monastic university at Nalanda flourishes; remains a world center of Buddhist study for over 1,000 years.

3rd Century A.D. Buddhism in Burma (Myanmar)

    According to the Mahavamsa, a Pali Chronicle of the fifth century Ceylon, the Emperor Asoka sent two Buddhist Monks, Sona and Uttara, to Suvannabhumi. An inscription of the Ikshavaku Dynasty of the Andhra region, of about the 3rd century A.D. refers to the conversion of the Kiratas to Buddhism. (Kiratas were thought to be the Tibeto-Burma peoples of Burma). Early Chinese texts of about the same date speak of a “Kingdom of Liu-Yang”, where all people worshipped the Buddha and there were several thousand samanas. This kingdom has been identified with a region somewhere in Central Burma. A series of epigraphic records in Pali, Sanskrit, Pyu and Mon datable in the 6th and 7th centuries, has been recovered from Central and Lower Burma (Prome and Rangoon).

    From the 11th to 13th centuries, the kings and queens of Pagan dynasty built countless numbers of stupas and temples.

     References:

     U Tha Myat, ‘Buddhism in South East Asia’, The Light of Buddha Magazine, Vol. III, No.8, No.1, Burma Buddhist Society, 1958

A.D 372 Buddhism in Korea

    It is believed that Buddhism first arrived on the Korean peninsular in 372 A.D. when a monk arrived from China bringing Chinese texts and statues. In 384 the King of Paekje was converted to Buddhism and decreed that his subjects should follow suit. It was not until 527, however, that Buddhism became established in Shilla where it flourished. In 668 A.D. Shilla conquered the other kingdoms and Korea was unified.

A.D 425 969 B.E Ven. Buddhaghosa

    Ven. Buddhaghosa collates the various Sinhalese commentaries on the Canon translating into Pali. He also composed the Visuddhimagga (The Path of Purity) which eventually becomes the classic Sri Lankan textbook on the Buddha’s teachings.

A.D. 5th Century

Buddhism in Cambodia

    Chinese evidence suggested that Buddhism was one of the religions of Cambodia. In the 7th century it was invaded by the Chinese Army which carried off 1,350 volumes of Buddhist Texts. But in the 9th and 10th century, Buddhism had become the dominant religion in Cambodia.

     Reference:

     U Tha Myat, ‘Buddhism in South East Asia’, The Light of Buddha Magazine, Vol. III, No.8, No. 1, Burma Buddhist Society, 1958

 

A.D 552 1095 B.E Buddhism in Japan

    From China and Korea, Buddhism came to Japan. Schools of philosophy and monastic discipline were transmitted first (6th cent.–8th cent.). King Seimei of Kudara, southern part of the Korean Peninsula presented the Emperor Kimmei of Japan with a golden image of Sakyamuni, some mahayana sutras and some Abhidhamma sutras. The famous Seven Great Nara Temples were places for the study of Buddhism and were completed by the end of Nara Period (710-784).Temples were also built in the Heian Period (794-1192), and Kamakura Period (1192-1333). The famous Sects were founded by Honen ( Jodo-shu Sect, 1133-1212), Shinran (Shin-shu Sect, 1173-1262) and Nichiren (Nichiren Sect, 1222-1282). Japanese Buddhist Sects are based on Mahayana Texts translated into Chinese from the Sanskrit originals. Zen and Pure Land grew to become popular movements after the 13th cent. After World War II new sects arose in Japan, such as the Soka Gakkai, an outgrowth of the nationalistic sect founded by Nichiren (1222–82), and the Risshokoseikai, attracting many followers.

     References:

     Makoto Nagai, D. Litt.,’Buddhism in Japan’, The Light of Buddha, Vol. III, Burma Buddhist Society, Mandalay, 1958.

A.D. 600 1100 B.E

    Buddhism in India begins a long, slow decline from which it would never fully recover.

A.D. 6th and 7th Centuries 1300 B.E

Buddhism in Thailand

    There is no record to show exactly when Buddhism came to Thailand. It is believed that Buddhism may have come to Thailand during the Dvaravati period when Nakorn Pathom was the capital. Many of Thailand’s most ancient monuments still stand there today.

    Buddhism was believed to have been introduced into Thailand for the first time by missionaries sent out by King Asoka of India, namely Sona Thera and Uttara Thera.

    For the second time, Buddhism came as Mahayana Buddhism in A.D. 700 (1300 B.E).

    For the third time it was King Anurat (Anawratha) of Pagan, Burma who re-introduced Theravada Buddhism into Thailand again in A.D. 1000 (B.E. 1600). Since then there were frequent movements of Monks between Sri Lanka and Thailand, strengthening Theravada Buddhism.

     References:

     Dr. Luang Suriyabongs, ‘Buddhism in Thailand’, The Light of Buddha Magazine, Vol. III, No.1, Burma Buddhist Society, 1958

A.D. 6th and 7th Centuries

Buddhism in Indonesia

    The Chinese record indicated that the island of Bali in the 6th century was the seat of a rich and civilizes kingdom ruled by Buddhist Kings. By about the 7th century, a great wave of Buddhism seemed to have swept all over the Indonesian islands. In the 8th century, the Buddhist Sri-Vijaya dynasty was responsible for elegant Buddhist shrines as those of Dieng Plateau (Java) and the dignified structure as the stupa of Borobudur (Java).

     References:

    U Tha Myat, ‘Buddhism in South East Asia’, The Light of Buddha Magazine, Vol. III, No.8, No. 1Burma Buddhist Society, 1958

A.D. 7th Centuries

Buddhism in Tibet

    In the 7th century Buddhism entered Tibet, where it has flourished, drawing its philosophical influences mainly from the Madhyamika, and its practices from the Tantra.

A.D 600’s 1000’s B.E Decline of Buddhism in India

    Buddhism in India begins a long, slow decline.

6th/ 9th Century 1100-1400 B.E Dhammapala of India

    Dhammapala composed commentaries on parts of the Canon missed by Buddhaghosa (such as the Udana, Itivuttaka, Theragatha, and Therigatha), along with extensive sub-commentaries on Buddhaghosa’s work.

 

A.D 1050 1594 B.E Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

     The bhikkhu and bhikkhuni communities at Anuradhapura die out following invasions from South India.

     Bhikkhus from Pagan arrive in Polonnaruwa in 1070 A.D, Sri Lanka to reinstate the obliterated Theravada ordination line on the island.

     Polonnaruwa was destroyed by foreign invasion in 1164 A.D. With the guidance of two monks from a forest branch of the Mahavihara sect, Vens. Mahakassapa and Sariputta , King Parakramabahu reunites all bhikkhus in Sri Lanka into the Mahavihara sect.

     Bhikkhus from Kañcipuram, India arrive in Sri Lanka in 1236 A.D to revive the Theravada ordination line.

11th Century A.D Theravada Buddhism in Pagan, Burma

     Theravada Buddhism was implanted at Pagan for the first time as early as the 11th century by Burmese King Anawratha (1044-1077). Shin Arahan’s advice led to acquiring thirty sets of Pali scriptures from the Mon King Manuhal by force. It was to Shin Arahan more than to anybody else that Burma owes the establishment of Theravada Buddhism. Inscriptional evidence of a Theravada Bhikkhuni nunnery noted in 1279. Towards the end of the 13th century, Buddhism declined due to the invading Tartars in 1287. In 15th century, King Dhammazedi restored Buddhism as a new chapter in the history of Buddhism in Burma. Since then successive Kings contributed immensely to the practice of Buddhism, leading to the staging of the Fifth and Six Buddhist Councils in Mandalay and Rangoon, respectively. The social life of Burma, now re-named Myanmar continues to benefit under the influence of Buddhism.

A.D 1192

Buddhism disappeared in India

 The fall in standards of Buddhist Monks, the split into different sects, hostility from Brahmins and a gradual assimilation of Buddhism to Hinduism.The Brahmins have never fully accepted the growth of Buddhist faith. Right from the days of the Buddha, the orthodox Brahmins have been showing a bitter hostility. Royal Persecution and decline in the royal patronage led to ill treatment of monks and destruction of holy Buddhist establishment by Hindus. The cleverly orchestrated plot by Hindus by accepting the Buddha as an incarnation of Visnu was well conceived by the people of the time and as a consequence Buddhism lost its identity. The popular practice of rites and rituals made Hinduism an integral part of everyday life in India. A combination of these causes may have contributed to the decline of Buddhism in the last half of the first millennium AD before the Muslims’ final defeat in the twelfth century when Buddhism ceased to be an organized religion in India. Royal Persecution: 2nd Century – Brahmin King Pusvamitra (Pushyamitra) seized the throne of Magadha and had razed to the ground as many as 1600 viharas, stupa and monasteries, put to death 900 Kotis of lay adherents of Buddhism. 6th century – Hindu King Sasanka seized power in 605 A.D. He almost destroyed the Bodhi Tree at Gaya and exterminated the Buddhist monks in the area around Kusinara. 7th century – Suddhanvan, the king of Ujjain, killed the Buddhists. Nara caused the extinction of Buddhism from Kashmir. He burnt the Buddhist viharas of Kashmir and uprooted the Buddhist population. The Muslim invasion. The Huns who were Mohamedans by faith invaded north-west India from central Asia at the end of the 5th century A.D. They destroyed Buddhist monasteries in Afghanistan and the north-west of India. The Muslims razed the monasteries and massacred most of the monks residing in them. The monks fled in thousands to other places inside and outside India. Muslim King Mahmud Gazinavi plundered the Buddhsit shrines at Kot Kangra (Himachal Pradesh) in the 10th century A.D. and King Bakhtiaruddin Khilji destroyed the monasteries of Nalanda and other places, giving a death-blow to Buddhism bringing its downfall in north-west India. How the Buddhist priesthood perished by the sword of the Muslim invaders has been recorded by the Muslim historians themselves. From the 7th century, Buddhism began a long and slow decline. Late in the tenth century Muslim Turks penetrated to the north-east of India, the ancient homeland of Buddhism. after the Muslim invasion Buddhism practically disappeared from north-east India. Since Hinduism was so fundamentally a part of Indian life, Muslims didn’t succeed in suppressing it. But when they destroyed the Buddhist monasteries and either executed or drove out the Buddhist monks, there was no-one left to take up the religion. From 1192 to the present day, Buddhism ceased to be an organized religion in India.

13th Century

     A forest-based Sri Lankan ordination line arrives in Burma and Thailand. Theravada spreads to Laos. Thai Theravada monasteries first appear in Cambodia shortly before the Thais win their independence from the Khmers.

17th Century

Buddhism in Russia

    In the early 17th century, Tibetan Buddhism spread north from Mongolia to Buryat communities of the Baikal region. The second wave came directly from Tibet.

Buddhism in Russia.

A.D 1871 2415 B.E

The Fifth Buddhist Council

     The Fifth Council was convened at Mandalay in Myanmar on the first waning day of Tazaungmone, 1232 Myanmar Era, 2415 B.E (November, 1871). The scriptures inscribed on palm-leaves could not last for a long time. Besides there might be many variations in rewriting the scriptures from copy to copy. Therefore, the scriptures were inscribed on marble slabs in order to dispel these disadvantages.

Two thousand and four hundred bhikkhus led by Venerable Jagarabhivamsa Thera (Tipitakadhara Mahadhammarajadhirajaguru) of Dakkhinarama Monastery, Mandalay, convened, to recite and approve the scriptures. King Mindon initiated and supported the Fifth Great Council to the end. The scriptures were first inscribed on seven hundred and twenty-nine marble slabs ) in the precinct of Lokamarajina Pagoda at the foot of Mandalay Hill. It took seven years, six months and fourteen days to finish this work. Then the bhikkhus recited to approve the inscriptions for five months and three days. After the Fifth Great Council. the Pali Texts were translated into Myanmar language, and the Doctrinal Order was promulgated to the whole country for the purpose of purification and propagation of the Buddha’s Teachings.

14th Century     Another forest lineage is imported from Sri Lanka to Ayudhaya, the Thai capital. A new ordination line is also imported into Burma.

 

A.D 1753     King Kirti Sri Rajasinha obtains bhikkhus from the Thai court to reinstate the bhikkhu ordination line, which had died out in Sri Lanka. This is the origin of the Siyam Nikaya.
A.D 1800’s     Sri Lankan Sangha deteriorates under pressure from two centuries of European colonial rule.
A.D 1862      Forest monks headed by Ven. Paññananda go to Burma for a reordination, returning to Sri Lanka the following year to found the Ramañña Nikaya. {9} First translation of the Dhammapada into a Western language (German).
A.D 1879

Light of Asia

       Sir Edwin Arnold publishes his epic poem ‘Light of Asia’, which becomes a best-seller in England and the USA, stimulating popular Western interest in Buddhism.

A.D 1880

Sasana Flag

       Helena Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott, founders of the Theosophical Society, arrive in Sri Lanka from the USA, embrace Buddhism, and begin a campaign to restore Buddhism on the island by encouraging the establishment of Buddhist schools. H.S. Olcott first introduced the Sasana Flag.

A.D 1881

Pali Text Society

 Pali Text Society is founded in England by T.W. Rhys Davids; most of the Tipitaka is published in roman script and, over the next 100 years, in English translation.

A.D 1891

Maha Bodhi Society of India

        Maha Bodhi Society was founded in India by the Sri Lankan lay follower Anagarika Dharmapala, in an effort to reintroduce Buddhism to India.

A.D 1899 2443 B.E

First Western Theravada monk

     First Western Theravada monk (Gordon Douglas) ordains, in Burma.

A.D 1907 2450 B.E Buddhism in the UK

     The Buddhist Philosophy had been studied in late Victorian Britain. On his return to England from Ceylon in 1864, Robert Childers compiled his famous Pali-English dictionary. Rhys Davids contributed a great deal in the founding of the Pali Text Society in 1881. In 1907 the Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland was founded . It was succeeded in 1924 by the Buddhist Society. The Founder President was the late Judge Christmas Humphreys. In 1926 the London Buddhist Vihara was established in Chiswick, West London.Venerable Sayadaw U Thittila of Burma arrived in England in 1938 and preached Dhamma for 14 years.

A.D 1954-56 2498 B.E. The Six Buddhist Council, Burma

     On the full-moon day of Kason, 1316, M.E. 2498 B.E (May, 1954), the Sixth Great Council was held in the Mahapasana Great Cave, Kaba-Aye, Yangon, Myanmar.

     The country of Myanmar had been one of the British Colonies for one hundred years and during this period the Buddha Sasana had deteriorated to some extent. So the Sixth Great Council was held aiming at the purification and promotion of the Buddha Sasana. Two thousand and five hundred bhikkhus from the five countries of Theravada Buddhism participated in that council. Nyaung Yan Sayadaw, Venerable Revata (Abhidhajamaharatthaguru), presided over it; the Mahasi Sayadaw, Venerable Sobhana (Aggamahapandita), and the Mingun Sayadaw, Venerable Vicittasarabhivamsa (Tipitakadhara Dhamma-bhandhagarika) took the leading roles in that council.

     The doctrinal questions asked by the people of five Theravada Buddhist countries: Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia were solved magnanimously. Twenty- five other countries also gave much help to that council.

     At that Council, not only the canonical Pali Texts of the Buddha but also the commentaries and sub-commentaries were reexamined.

A.D 1956 2500 B.E Buddha Jayanti Year

     It commemorates 2,500 years of Buddhism.

A.D 1956 Mass conversion to Buddhism in India

     Dr. B. R. Ambedkar embraced Buddhism along with his followers numbering over half a million on 14th October, 1956, at Nagpur, Maharashtra State, India, under the guidance of Ven. U Chandramany Mahathera of Kusinagar Burmese Buddhist Temple.

A.D 1958 Buddhist Publication Society

     Ven. Nyanaponika Thera established the Buddhist Publication Society in Sri Lanka to publish English-language books on Theravada Buddhism.

     Two Germans ordained at the Royal Thai Embassy in London, becoming the first to take full Theravada ordination in the West. }

A.D 1969 2512 B.E The Return of Vipassana to India

    The coming of Sayagyi Goenka to India in 1969 marked the return of Vipassana to the country after nearly 2,000 years, with the blessing of his teacher, Sayagyi U Ba Khin, Internationally well-known Vipassana Guru, who had formally bestowed on Shri. Satya Narayan Goenka the responsibility of Vipassana-acariya (Vipassana Teacher). Sayagyi U Ba Khin told him before he departed Rangoon that India was very ripe to receive this gem of the practice of Vipassana. In 1976 ‘Dhamma Giri ( Hill of Dhamma) ‘ opened to the public for its regular Vipassana Meditation courses. Ten years later, Sayagyi Goenka (also known as Goenkaji) made his first trip outside India to spread Vipassana around the world. Twenty years later, Dhamma Giri has grown and blossomed. Now it can accommodate and cater for more than 600 resident students and yogis on a daily basis. ( Sayagyi Goenka’s Dhamma Mission)

May 1998 First Theravada Website, Nibbana.com, on ‘Myanmar’ Buddhism

    Nibbana.com, the Theravada Website starts publishing the discourses and books written by Myanmar (Burmese) monks and distinguished scholars, from London.

 

March 2001 Destruction of Bamiyan Statues

     The Taliban, Rulers of Afghanistan, has destroyed the giant standing statues of the Buddha, ignoring the pleas from many governments. Afghanistan was a centre of Buddhist culture before the arrival of Islam more than 1200 years ago.

 

NOTES:
    BE = Buddhist Era: Year 1 of the Buddhist Era calendar is the year of the Buddha’s Parinibbana (death): 544 B.C  =  1 B.E

 

REFERENCES
Title Author/ Publisher
The Teachings Of The Buddha (Basic Level)   Ministry of the Religious Affairs, Myanmar,1997
The Buddha and His Teachings Venerable Narada,1964
The Light of Buddha Magazines, Vol. III   Burma Buddhist Society, Mandalay,1958
Vipassana Pagoda, Souvenir 26th October. 97 Global Vipassana Foundation, Mumbai, India,1997