Timeline of Buddhist History

Part of the Buddhism For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Buddhism has a long and rich history. From the time of Shakyamuni Buddha, based on whose teachings Buddhism developed, to the present day, this religion has changed how millions of people view the world. The teachings of Buddhism evolved over a long period of time, spreading from the Indian subcontinent into other parts of Asia and across the globe.

Date(s) Historical Event(s)
5th Century BCE Life of Shakyamuni Buddha, based on whose teachings Buddhism developed.
269-231 BCE Reign of King Ashoka, patron of Buddhism; sends first Buddhists to Sri Lanka in the third century.
100 BCE to 100 CE Rise of Mahayana Buddhism.
First half of 2nd century CE Reign of King Kanishka; Mahayana Buddhism spreads to Central Asia.
1st century CE Buddhism first enters China.
520 First Zen patriarch Bodhidharma arrives in China.
538 Buddhism enters Japan from Korea.
7th to 8th century Vajrayana Buddhism established in Tibet.
11th to 14th century Theravada Buddhism established in Southeast Asia.
1199 Nalanda University destroyed; demise of Buddhism in India.
13th century Zen, Pure Land, and Nichiren Buddhism established in Japan.
1881 Pali Text Society founded.
1893 World Parliament of Religions (Chicago).
1956 Celebration of 2,500 years of Buddhism.
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Buddhism For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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