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History of Buddhism, BCE

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• Chronology Index


Words in red are linked to our glossary - so clicking on them will take you to much more information than can be included in brief chronology like this.

Buddhism BCE
c. 560-c. 483 BCE Probable life of Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha).
c. 521 BCE Siddhartha Gautama began his wanderings in the countryside in search of truth.
c. 528 BCE Siddhartha Gautama, meditating under a tree at Buddha Gaya in northwestern India, achieved enlightenment.
c. 528 BCE

The Four Noble Truths were revealed by Siddhartha Buddha in his first sermon after his enlightenment, becoming the fundamental Buddhist teaching:

  1. existence is suffering,
  2. the cause of suffering is within the self,
  3. an end to suffering is possible,
  4. following the Eightfold Path ends suffering and leads to Nirvana.
c. 483 BCE First Council resulted in four factions just one year after Buddha's death. Buddha's teachings (Sutta) and a text on monastic discipline (Vinaya) were written down.
469 BCE Approximately 16 factions existed only ten years after Buddha's death.
c. 400 BCE Buddhism reached Nepal.
c. 383 BCE Second Buddhist Council was held at Vesali and declared a minority group as orthodox (Hinayana) and a majority group as heretic (Mahayana).
259 - 232 BCE Reign of King Asoka (273 - 232), who converted to Buddhism, sent out missionaries to other lands, and actively promoted Buddhism within his own territory. Buddhism thus began to grow from a small group to state and local religion.
c. 251 BCE Asoka's son Mahinda (d. c. 204) introduced Buddhism to Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
c. 250 BCE The Buddhist canon (Tipitaka) is completed during the Third Buddhist Council at Patna, under the auspices of King Asoka.
c. 200 BCE Buddhism reaches central Asia
c. 24 BCE Two important Buddhist monasteries were founded in Ceylon (Sri Lanka): Mahaviranhara (Theravadin monastery) and Abhayagiri (Mahayana monastery). Long-lasting disagreements would eventually develop between them.
1st century CE Perhaps as many as 500 sects of Buddhists existed by this time.

Keep reading: Buddhism through today

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