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Questions tagged [history]

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

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3
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1answer
74 views

Where are the references of Vesak in the Pali canon?

It is traditionally believed that the Buddha was born, enlightened and passed away on the date(tithi) of Vesak. Now it does not seem to be very probable that all three major incidents of one's life ...
2
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1answer
451 views

Social context of Buddhist rituals

I have a couple of questions about Buddhism rituals. Were Buddhism's rituals performed by a certain social class, or for a particular political end? Also what else was happening in the culture at the ...
3
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2answers
160 views

Did the Buddha work with teachers from other spiritual traditions?

Within the Pali canon the Buddha often vigorously debates with Brahmin priests. However in the Buddha's time there were a lot of other spiritual traditions too. Did the Buddha have more cordial ...
4
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3answers
1k views

Halo on the Buddha

Do the suttas make any mention of a halo around the Buddha's head, or was it a later addition through the cultural influence of other religions? I recall mentions of a golden aura around the Buddha ...
5
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1answer
623 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 ...
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 ...
7
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2answers
643 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 ...
2
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2answers
353 views

How many Tibetan monks practiced meditation in “old Tibet”?

One aspect of the notion of "Buddhist Modernism" is that in modern history (ancient times aside) even the Theravada monkhood, let alone the laity, did not generally meditate, until the Burmese/Thai ...
9
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3answers
274 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 ...
8
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1answer
463 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 ...
3
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2answers
75 views

Did nuns participate in the councils?

Are there any records of this? Though I'm more curious about the first council, I'm generally curious about their participation in any of them.
4
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1answer
97 views

What is/was the role of agamas in Chinese and Japanese history?

Recently I read/heard someone saying that the agamas are/were dismissed and downplayed in Chinese and Japanese Buddhism throughout history. I understand that Mahayana texts received much attention in ...
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1answer
398 views

Can Pranayama Be Derived from Anapana?

Pranayama seam to have some similarities with Anapana. What is the relationship between the two. Was this derived from Anapana? What is it's historic development?
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 ...
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?
1
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1answer
101 views

Dharmaskandha and Śāripūtrābhidharma Satipatthana contains a section of shortcomings. What are the shortcomings?

According to Satipatthana Mula (By Sujato Bhikkhu edited by Piya Tan) Dharmaskandha and Śāripūtrābhidharma versions of the Satipatthana contains a section of shortcomings. What are the shortcomings ...
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1answer
69 views

What does Śāripūtrābhidharma Satipatthana sources mention about food? Does other Theravada source have such references?

According to Satipatthana Mula (By Sujato Bhikkhu edited by Piya Tan) Śāripūtrābhidharma versions of the Satipatthana contains a reference to food. What exactly does it say about food and does ...
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 ...
3
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2answers
154 views

What exactly were the parks that the Buddha spent time in?

Whe I read the Pali Canon the BUddha seems to spend a lot of his time in parks in various locations. Often in the suttas these 'parks' are mentioned in the introduction to the text. For instance the ...
5
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1answer
91 views

Does anybody know the composition of the 6th council and how the delegates were chosen?

Nyanatiloka and Nyanaponika were the only Western born monks to attend the 6th Council. I am curious to know the composition of the 6th council and how the delegates were chosen. Wikipedia says: ...
3
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1answer
164 views

What are the famous debates in canonical Buddhist texts?

Debate plays an important part of Buddhism. What are famous debate encounters by the Buddha and also by other Buddhist masters like Dharmakīrti, especially with Hindus(exponents of Brahmavāda-Ātmavāda)...
4
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2answers
463 views

What are some examples of Buddhist rulers?

I've been searching about this for a while, I have been looking for historical rulers who based their way of governing off Buddhist principles. But haven't been able to find a lot.
2
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1answer
127 views

Lay meditation in Korean Zen

Have there been reform movements in 20th century Korean Buddhism that put more emphasis on meditation practice than traditional Korean Buddhism did, and that, in particular, also encouraged meditation ...
7
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4answers
301 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? :)
5
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1answer
657 views

Does Kwan Yin hold a place in Theravada Buddhism?

Kwan Yin (a.k.a. Guanyin, Avalokiteśvara) is an important figure in Mahayana Buddhism. But I recently noticed a statue of Kwan Yin on the grounds of a local Theravada monastery. I looked up Kwan Yin ...
3
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1answer
109 views

Was Buddhism the dominant religion of India for one thousand years?

I read in a book by Amartya Sen 'The Argumentative Indian', (link) that Buddhism was the dominant religion of India for about a 1000 years, and that foreigners referred to India as a Buddhist kingdom. ...
6
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1answer
176 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 ...
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7answers
12k 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 ...
3
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1answer
67 views

What are the elements (Mahābhūta) references in the Sarvastivada Satipaṭṭhāna?

According to Satipatthana Mula (By Sujato Bhikkhu edited by Piya Tan) Dharmaskandha references 6 elements that the traditional 4 elements in Theravada. They are not explicitly mentioned in the text. ...
3
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1answer
230 views

What do we know about the historic Padmasambhava?

I had heard Padmasambhava referred to as a semi-mythic figure. Some of his reputed activities would fit a mythic character. However to what extent is he also a historical figure. What do we know about ...
2
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1answer
129 views

What was the 1st attempt to have a Theravada monastery in the West?

Venerable Nyanatiloka had tried to setup a monastery in the West. Were there previous attempts? How successful were they? Do they still exist? If not, what happened? Following is the link "Plans for ...
3
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1answer
248 views

What was the reason behind Colonel Henry Steel Olcott and Anagarika Dharmapala split

Though the two of the worked together in the early years I have heard there was a split between them later on. When did this split happen? What was the cause? What is the implication and aftermath of ...
4
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1answer
132 views

Were there earlier western monks before Bhikkhu Ananda Metteyya (Charles Henry Allan Bennett)

Looking at the Bio of Ven. Nyanatiloka who was regarded as one of the earliest monks. I came across that he had met Bhikkhu Ananda Metteyya (Charles Henry Allan Bennett) who was also a Western monk ...
3
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5answers
954 views

What was the first Buddhist text to be translated into English?

What was the first Buddhist text to be translated into English? When was it translated and by whom? Was it reasonably available to those interested and did it have much of an impact within academic ...
2
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2answers
95 views

First Buddhist text translated into a Western language

As a follow-up to another question: What was the first Buddhist text to be translated into a Western language? (That probably means French or Latin, but other options are also possible) When was it ...
9
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1answer
861 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 ...
6
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1answer
475 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 ...
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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2answers
658 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 ...
8
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1answer
309 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? ...
2
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2answers
302 views

Autobiographies of Buddhist masters

Can you recommend any good autobiographies of Buddhist teachers and monks? I'm currently reading Getting Off, A Portrait of an American Buddhist Monk and I find it very interesting.
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 ...
3
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1answer
192 views

When did Vasubandhu, the teacher of Dignāga, live?

Vasubandhu is known to be the teacher of Dignāga. When did he live? What are the sources that say so?
7
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1answer
203 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 ...
9
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2answers
619 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 ...
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" ...
9
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2answers
793 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 ...