Questions tagged [history]

For questions about Buddhism in the past, and how it has developed since then.

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25
votes
3answers
836 views

When were women first welcomed into Buddhist orders?

I know that in the early days of Buddhism, it was for men only. To practice, you had to be a monk, and to be a monk, you had to be a man. Perhaps this reflects the attitudes of the time, but today, my ...
15
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7answers
11k views

Why isn't there a Buddhist Bible?

Why is it that Buddhism never compiled a reasonably concise set of canonical texts like the Bible? Buddhism itself has universal beliefs such as the 4 Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path and the notion ...
14
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3answers
3k views

Was Vipassana discovered by the Buddha (Siddhartha)?

I read somewhere that samatha (and jhana) was discovered by the Buddha, but how about vipassana? Is there any evidence either way (i.e. suttas)? The reason I'm asking is because I am more proficient ...
13
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4answers
2k views

Why did the Buddha suffer before he died?

I understand that the Buddha became severely ill prior to his death as a result of eating bad food. I also was under the impression that perfectly enlightened beings have obliterated, or rendered ...
13
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3answers
3k views

Did Buddhists ever actively participate in a major violent conflict?

The great "religions of peace" like Christianity and Islam had some quite turbulent events that seem in major conflict with their primary commandments, but still in the name of faith - even "within" (...
12
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4answers
2k views

What is the oldest text/sutra of the Mahayana tradition?

I'm often interested in the history of Buddhist texts and, being a Theravadan, I'm not very familiar with the Mahayana texts. Please help to educate me in this manner.
12
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2answers
646 views

Relation to Jainism

I've read that Jainism is one of the oldest Indian traditions, that Buddhism somewhat derived from it and that at some time they rivaled (I'm not sure if this was a political thing). Can you explain ...
11
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5answers
6k views

Was Buddha born of a Virgin?

I was reading a work that claims Buddha "was born of the Virgin Maya". What Buddhist works address the birth of Buddha? Do any support or conflict with a virgin birth for Buddha?
11
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7answers
5k views

Did Buddhism oppose Vedic religion?

At the time of Tathagat Buddha, Hindu religion in its current form did not exist. However, there were Vedic teachings. These teachings were based on blind belief in the authority of the Vedas. There ...
11
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2answers
1k views

When were the earliest Buddhist writings created

Buddha was born (according to Wikipedia) somewhere around 563 BCE to 480 BCE, and lived 80 years. From what I have understood, no teachings that made it to this day, have been written down when he ...
11
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1answer
621 views

Buddhism in ancient Arabic regions

In the age of king "Asoka", the expansion of Buddhism reached Arabic countries. Does anybody know what those countries are called now? Can anyone provide details about what happened to those places / ...
10
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4answers
15k views

Are the Chakras present in the original Buddha's teachings?

I know it is very common these days to associate Chakras with Buddhist meditation, but I couldn't find anything that supports that in the suttas. (I haven't read all suttas) Did the Buddha himself ...
9
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2answers
575 views

What was the chronology of events in the Buddha's life?

This is the sort of question I'd find really useful to get an answer on; I'm looking for a rough chronology of the 45 years of the Buddha's (not the Bodhisatta's) life, year by year. I know there is ...
9
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7answers
11k views

What was the historical Buddha's ethnicity?

Gautama Buddha is traditionally regarded as having a noble body with 32 signs of a Great Man and one of those signs are deep blue eyes. I came across many online discussions about Buddha's ethnicity ...
9
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4answers
15k views

What language did the Buddha speak?

Do we know, or have a good idea, what language the historical Buddha (Siddhārtha Gautama) spoke. I've just assumed it is Pali but a moment's thought tells me this is probably wrong since the Pali ...
9
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1answer
829 views

Why did Mahayana leave out the Pali Canon?

I'm quite familiar with Theravada and Zen but I can't understand the historical reasons for not keeping the original Buddha's teaching as a core. The schools do not contradict each other, so why ...
9
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1answer
840 views

Historically, where do the concepts of Karma, Nirvana, Dharma and Samsara come from?

From a historical perspective where do the concepts of Karma, Nirvana, Dharma and Samsara come from? I'm aware that they predated Buddhism but do they come from the Vedas, Shramanic tradition or ...
9
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2answers
772 views

What is the role of relics in Buddhism?

I recently learned about an episode of Chinese history when relics associated to the Buddha were relocated to China and Han Yu writes to the Chinese Emperor in a text titled "Memorial Discussing the ...
9
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3answers
269 views

Was meditation not practiced for most of the history of Buddhism?

In a recent Buddhist Geeks podcast the presenter Bodhipaksa stated that by the time the Buddhagosa wrote the commentary Visuddhimagga in the 5th Century CE, meditation had been largely abandoned. He ...
9
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1answer
1k views

Why do Buddhist Stupas have various shapes?

I came across a gallery of Stupas from around the world and it made me wonder why some of them differ in shape considerably. Do they express different aspects of Buddhism or is the source of ...
9
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2answers
609 views

Buddhism in the Middle East

It is said, Buddhist missionaries made it to Alexandria Egypt and else where in the Mediterranean circa 200 BCE. Have any scholars and/or archeologists found any evidence of Buddhism being practiced ...
9
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2answers
264 views

What are the other Theravada Councils held between the 4th and 6th

The Wikipedia entry on the 5th council says: However, there were a number of other councils held in Ceylon and Thailand between the fourth and sixth ... What are these other councils? Where where ...
8
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3answers
6k views

What's the origin of 108 being a sacred number?

The number 108 is a sacred number in Buddhism, but in other religions as well (Hinduism, Jainism). What exactly is the origin of 108 being a sacred number in Buddhism? Is there anything about it in ...
8
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3answers
412 views

How did Buddha's teachings about samsara differ from earlier Indian tradition?

Even before the Buddha, the wheel of birth and death was a common teaching in India, with the six stages or realms. This is something that has passed down into Buddhism (even today). What did the ...
8
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3answers
5k views

Is there evidence of a Buddhist influence on Greek Stoicism?

Stoic philosophy seems to share a lot with Buddhist wisdom. Since Zeno of Citium (generally credited as the founder of Stoicism) is said to have lived a couple hundred years after Siddhartha Gautama, ...
8
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3answers
664 views

Did the Buddha ever talk about his family?

When Siddhārtha Gautama left his home to become an ascetic, he left a wife, son, father and step mother. His achievement of enlightenment and subsequent teachings of the 4 Noble Truths and 8 Fold ...
8
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4answers
309 views

Is there a tradition or practice involving fasting in Buddhism or Buddhist countries?

Many religions have period or specific practice including fasting. I'm aware of the eating prescriptions of monks, but are there traditions or practices involving fasting for Lay-people? If not in ...
8
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4answers
1k views

Which are considered to be the oldest suttas?

Though I've seen dating of mahayana suttas here and there in passing with some analysis, I understand the pali canon has suttas of many ages. For example, one collection I've often heard to contain ...
8
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4answers
387 views

How and when did the name “Buddhism” appear?

What is called "Buddhism" is a whole range of different schools, sects, practices etc. that has in common that they are based on the teachings of Siddharta Gautama/the Buddha. But is the name "...
8
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1answer
460 views

When and why did monks stop meditating?

My understanding is that meditation went through a revival in the last two centuries, in part due to the efforts of the Theosophical Society. Supposedly in the past, monks had nearly or totally ...
8
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1answer
308 views

What were Nagarjuna's seminal contributions to Buddhist philosophy?

Nagarjuna's ideas are considered to represent the historical starting point of Mahayana Buddhist philosophy. Can his ideas be considered a clarification of the philosophy presented in the Pali canon? ...
7
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6answers
5k views

Why is Buddhism followed mainly outside of India when it originated there?

India is the original land of Buddhism, but it is followed/practiced more outside its country of birth. Are there any reasons for this?
7
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5answers
409 views

Is there a better term than Hinayana?

I'm aware that using the term Hinayana isn't ideal as it has derogatory undertones - being coined by the Mahayana school to differentiate themselves from what had gone on before. The implication being ...
7
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7answers
718 views

Which suttas in the Pali canon are relatively early or late?

Do people (monks and/or scholars) have a sense of how old (or relatively old) each sutta is in the Pali canon: i.e. which suttas are considered "earlier" or "later"? If not for individual suttas, how ...
7
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4answers
294 views

Is there a historical connection between Buddhism and martial arts?

Are kung fu monks and all related Hollywood stereotypes based on any actual historical connection between Buddhism and martial arts? Or is it just a fun movie concept? :)
7
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3answers
2k views

Was Buddhism a rebellion against the Aryans?

I read and learned many areas in Buddhism, for example the Seven Arya Dhana (Saptharyadhana - The Sevenfold Noble Wealth), the Four Noble Truths (Chathurarya Sathya) and the Eightfold Path (arya ...
7
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2answers
633 views

What was the 1st Buddhist Council about?

I'm interested in the 1st Buddhist Council, i.e. why was it held, where was it held, who attended it and what were the outcome? I'm not looking for an in-depth and detailed answer. More like an ...
7
votes
1answer
202 views

Were robes a factor in the spread of Buddhism?

If you look at the countries where Theravada Buddhism has historically taken hold (Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar/Burma) they are all in fairly close proximity to each other in the ...
7
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5answers
1k views

Were psychedelics used in the past by Buddhists?

I know it's discouraged for Buddhists to intoxicate their body, but were there any known cases of monks using psychedelic drugs intentionally in the past?
6
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4answers
3k views

Why did physical representations of the Buddha only start to appear a few centuries after his death?

Prior to around the 1st century CE, Buddhist art tended not to depict the Buddha himself, instead preferring to depict relics/symbols of the Buddha, such as his footprints, or the Bodhi tree. That ...
6
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1answer
471 views

When was the Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism marked as separate religions?

Historically Buddhism, Jainism were just the one of the sects of many sects or philosophical schools in ancient times. When was this separation of religions happened and all other vedic and non-vedic ...
6
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1answer
2k views

Did Ledi Sayadaw invent a vipassana technique?

According to the currently available historical sources, did Ledi Sayadaw invent his technique of meditation, or did he learn it in the caves of the Sagaing Hills? Is there enough information to tell ...
6
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1answer
3k views

Who were the first followers of the Buddha?

I've read that the Buddha's mother Maya became the first Buddhist. Who were the first followers of the Buddha other than his mother?
6
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4answers
3k views

What is the meaning of Rahula?

I am speaking of course of Siddhartha Gautama's son. I was told Rahula means obstacle. Is this true?
6
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1answer
172 views

Are there Material Differences of Current Theravada Teachings with Pre Sectarian Buddhism?

Are some of the Suttas we have today different from the original Suttas as taught by the Buddha? Are there any surviving pre sectarian Buddhist sources and commentaries? What research has been done on ...
5
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7answers
330 views

Looking for a book that covers the biography of the Buddha's life

Which biography of the Buddha is written in (or translated into) English, and is the most widely read (from a Theravada perspective)?
5
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3answers
187 views

Were the oldest Buddhists evangelical?

Between the time of the historical Buddha and state support by emperor Ashoka, were Buddhist monks evangelical? In other words, did Buddhism spread through enthusiastic recruitment by the sangha, or ...
5
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2answers
283 views

What is the overall Buddhist taxonomy?

Building from this question, I'd be really interested in seeing an overall view of the Buddhist taxonomical system. I don't mean the actual names "Therevada", "Mahayana" and so on, or "Soto", "Rinzai" ...
5
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3answers
171 views

Iconography in Buddhism - from the Greeks? And why isn't the Buddha bald?

When you read or hear about Gotama leaving his home and family, the story is usually something like "he shaved his face and head and went out to be a wandering monk". But very few depictions of the ...
5
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1answer
616 views

Do we know in what posture the Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree?

I was reading yesterday this blog by a Zen nun and in this post she casually says in the third to last paragraph that we don't know in what posture the Buddha did sit under the Bodhi tree. I found ...