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Timeline of Buddhism

   * 563 BC: Buddha is born in Lumbini, India.
   * 309 BC: Third Buddhist Council convened by Asoka.
   * 300s BC: Oldest Brahmi script (the ancestor of Indic languages) dates
     from this period.
   * 200s BC: Indian traders regularly visited ports in Arabia, explaining
     the prevalence of place names in the region with Indian or Buddhist
     origin. For example, bahar (from the Sanskrit vihara, a Buddhist
   * 100s BC: Theravada Buddhism is officially introduced to Sri Lanka by
     the Venerable Mahinda, the son of the emperor Ashoka of India during
     the reign of king Devanampiya-Tissa.
   * 0s: According to Theravadins, during the reign of King Vatta Gamini in
     Sri Lanka, the Buddhist monks assembled in Aloka Vihara and wrote down
     the Tripitaka in Pali.
   * 67: Buddhism officially came to China, with the two monks Moton and
   * 78-101: According to Mahayana tradition, the Fourth Buddhist council
     takes place under the Kushana king Kanishka's reign, near Jalandar,
     Kashmir, India.
   * 100s/200s: Indian and Central Asian Buddhists travel to Vietnam.
   * 148: An Shih Kao, a Parthian prince and Buddhist monk, arrived in China
     and proceeded to translate many Buddhist works in to Chinese.
   * 320-467: The University at Nalanda grew to support 3-10,000 monks.
   * 399-414: Fa Xian travelled from China to India, then returned to
     translate Buddhist works in to Chinese.
   * 400s: Earliest evidence of Buddhism in Myanmar (Pali inscriptions).
     Earliest evidence of Buddhism in Indonesia (statues). Earliest
     reinterpretations of Pali texts.
   * 402: At the request of Yao Xing, Kumarajiva travels to Changan and
     translates many Buddhist texts in to Chinese.
   * 403: In China, Hui Yuan argues that Buddhist monks should be exempt
     from bowing to the emperor.
   * 405: Yao Xing honours Kumarajiva.
   * 500s: Zen adherents enter Vietnam from China. Jataka stories are
     translated into Persian by order of the Zoroastrian king Khosrau I of
   * 552: Buddhism was introduced to Japan via Baekje according to
     Nihonshoki. (Some scholars place this event in 538)
   * 600s: Xuan Zang travelled to India, noting the persecution of Buddhists
     by Sasanka (king of Gouda, a state in north-west Bengal), before
     returning to Chang An in China to translate Buddhist scriptures. End of
     sporadic Buddhist rule in the Sindh.
   * 600s: King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet sent messengers to India to get
     Buddhist texts.
   * 671: Chinese Buddhist pilgrim I-Ching visited Palembang, the capital of
     the partly-Buddhist kingdom of Srivijaya, on the island of Sumatra,
     Indonesia. He reported over 1000 buddhist monks in residence.
   * 700s: Buddhist Jataka stories are translated in to Syriac and Arabic as
     Kalilag and Damnag. An account of Buddha's life was translated in to
     Greek by St John of Damascus, and widely circulated to Christians as
     the story of Jalaam and Josaphat. By the 1300s this story of Josaphat
     had become so popular that he was made a Catholic saint.
   * 700s: Under the reign of King Trisong Deutsen, Buddhism replaces Bonpo
     as Tibet's main religion.
   * Abt. 760: Borobodur, the famous Indonesian Buddhist structure, begins
     construction, probably as a non-Buddhist shrine. It was completed as a
     Buddhist monument in 830 after about 50 years of work.
   * 841-846: Li Yan reigns in China during the Tang Dynasty, one of three
     Chinese emperors to prohibit Buddhism.
   * 900s: Buddhist temple construction commences at Pagan, Myanmar.
   * 1009: Vietnam's Ly Dynasty began, which was partly brought about by an
     alliance with the Buddhist monkhood. Ly emperors patronized Mahayana
     Buddhism, in addition to traditional spirits.
   * 1025: Srivijaya, a partly Buddhist kingdom based on Sumatra, is raided
     by pirates from the Chola region of southern India. It survives, but
     declines in importance. Shortly after the raid, the centre of the
     kingdom moves northward from Palembang to Jambi-Melayu.
   * 1044-1077: In Burma, Pagan's first king Anoratha reigned. He converted
     the country to Theravada Buddhism with the aid of monks and books from
     Sri Lanka. He is said to have been converted to Theravada Buddhism by a
     Mon monk, though other beliefs persisted.
   * 1057: Anawrahta of Myanmar captures Thanton in northern Thailand,
     strengthening Theravada Buddhism in the country.
   * 1084-1113: In Myanmar, Pagan's second king, Kyanzittha (son of
     Anawrahta) reigns. He completed the building of the Shwezigon pagoda, a
     shrine for relics of the Buddha, including a tooth brought from Sri
     Lanka. Various inscriptions refer to him as an incarnation of Vishnu, a
     chakravartin, a bodhisattva and dharmaraja.
   * 1113: Alaungsithu reigned in Pagan, Myanmar, until his son Narathu
     smothered him to death and assumed the throne.
   * 1133-1212: Honen Shonin establishes Pure Land Buddhism as an
     independent sect in Japan.
   * 1181: The self-styled bodhisattva Jayavarman VII, a devout follower of
     Mahayana Buddhism (though he also patronised Hinduism), assumes control
     of the Khmer kingdom. He constructs the Bayon, the most prominent
     Buddhist structure in the Angkor temple complex. This set the stage for
     the later conversion of the Khmer people to Theravada Buddhism.
   * 1190: In Myanmar, Anawrahta's lineage regains control with the
     assistance of Sri Lanka. Pagan has been in anarchy. The new regime
     reforms Burmese Buddhism on Sri Lankan Theravada models.
   * Late 1100s: The great Buddhist educational centre at Nalanda, where
     various subjects were taught such as Buddhism, Logic, Philosophy, Law,
     Medicine, Grammar, Yoga, Alchemy and Astrology, was destroyed. It is
     generally believed that it was razed by the Turks. Nalanda was
     supported by kings of several dynasties and had served as a great
     international centre of learning.
   * 1200s: Theravada overtakes Mahayana - previously practised alongside
     Hinduism - as the dominant form of Buddhism in Cambodia. Thailand and
     Sri Lanka were influences in this change. In Persia, the historian
     Rashid al-Din records some eleven Buddhist texts circulating in Arabic
     translation, amongst which the Sukhavati-vyuha and Karanda-vyuha Sutras
     are recognizable. Portions of the Samyutta and Anguttara-Nikayas, along
     with parts of the Maitreya-vyakarana, have also been identified in this
   * Abt. 1238: The Thai Kingdom of Sukothai is established, with Theravada
     Buddhism as the state religion.
   * 1277: Burma's Pagan empire begins to disintegrate after being defeated
     by Kublai Khan at Ngasaungsyan, near the Chinese border. The Khan
     ordered the invasion after the Burmese refused to pay tribute.
   * 1287: The Theravada kingdom at Pagan, Myanmar falls to the Mongols, and
     is overshadowed by the Shan capital at Ava.
   * Abt. 1279-1298: Sukothai's third and most famous ruler, Ramkhamhaeng
     (Rama the Bold), reigned and made vassals of Laos, much of modern
     Thailand, Pegu (Burma), and parts of the Malayan peninsula, thus giving
     rise to Sukhothai artistic tradition. After Ramkhamhaeng's death,
     Sukothai lost control of its territories as its vassals became
   * 1295: Mongol leader Ghazan Khan is converted to Islam, ending a line of
     Tantric Buddhist leaders.
   * 1305-1316: Buddhists in Persia attempt to convert Uldjaitu Khan.
   * 1351: In Thailand, U Thong, possibly the son of a Chinese merchant
     family, established Ayutthya as his capital and took the name of
   * 1391-1474: Gyalwa Gendun Drubpa, first Dalai Lama of Tibet.
   * 1405-1431: The Chinese eunuch admiral Zheng He made seven voyages in
     this period, through South-East Asia, India, the Persian Gulf, East
     Africa, and Egypt. At the time, Buddhism was well-established in China,
     so visited peoples may have had exposure to Chinese Buddhism.
   * 1578: Altan Khan of the Tmed gave the title of Dalai Lama to Sonam
     Gyatso (the third Dalai Lama).
   * 1600s & 1700s: When Vietnam divided during this period, the Nguyen
     rulers of the south chose to support Mahayana Buddhism as an
     integrative ideology for the ethnically plural society of their
     kingdom, which was also populated by Chams and other minorities.
   * 1615: The Oyirad Mongols converted into the Geluk school of Tibetan
   * 1635: Zanabazar, the first Jebtsundamba Khutughtu, was born as a
     great-grandson of Abadai Khan of the Khalkha.
   * 1642: Gshi Khan of the Khoshuud donated the sovereignty of Tibet to
     the fifth Dalai Lama.
   * 1766-67: In Thailand, many Buddhist texts are destroyed as the Burmese
     invade Ayutthaya.
   * 1800s: In Thailand, King Mongkut - himself a former monk - conducted a
     campaign to reform and modernise the monkhood, a movement that has
     continued in the present century under the inspiration of several great
     ascetic monks from the north-east of the country.
   * 1802-20: Nguyen Anh comes to the throne of the first united Vietnam -
     he succeeds by quelling the Tayson rebellion in south Vietnam with help
     from Rama I in Bangkok, then took over the north from the remaining
     Trinh. After coming to power, he created a Confucianist orthodox state
     and was eager to limit the competing influence of Buddhism. He forbade
     adult men to attend Buddhist ceremonies.
   * 1820-41: Minh Mang reigns in Vietnam, further restricting Buddhism. He
     insists that all monks be assigned to cloisters and carry
     identification documents. He also placed new restrictions on printed
     material. He also began a persecution of Catholic missionaries and
     converts that his successors (not without provocation) continued.
   * Abt. 1860: In Sri Lanka, against all expectations the monastic and lay
     community brought about a major revival in Buddhism, a movement that
     went hand in hand with growing nationalism. The revival followed a
     period of persecution by foreign powers. Since then Buddhism has
     flourished and Sri Lankan monks and expatriate lay people have been
     prominent in spreading Theravada Buddhism in Asia, the West and even in
   * 1880s: Burma becomes a British colony.
   * 1896: Using Fa Xian's records, Nepalese archaeologists rediscovered the
     great stone pillar of Ashoka at Lumbini.
   * 1959: 14th Dalai Lama flees Chinese occupation of Tibet, establishes
     exile community in India.
   * 1966: World Buddhist Sangha Council convened by Theravadins in Sri
     Lanka with the hope of bridging differences and working together. The
     first convention was attended by leading monks, from many countries and
     sects, Mahayana as well as Theravada. Nine points written by Ven.
     Walpola Rahula were approved unanimously;
       1. The Buddha is our only Master
       2. We take refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha
       3. We do not believe that this world is created and ruled by a God
       4. We consider that the purpose of life is to develop compassion for
          all living beings without discrimination and to work for their
          good, happiness, and peace; and to develop wisdom leading to the
          realization of Ultimate Truth
       5. We accept the Four Noble Truths, namely Dukkha, the Arising of
          Dukkha, the Cessation of Dukkha, and the Path leading to the
          Cessation of Dukkha; and the law of cause and effect (Dependent
       6. All conditioned things (sa.mskaara) are impermanent (anitya) and
          dukkha, and that all conditioned and unconditioned things (dharma)
          are without self (anaatma).
       7. We accept the Thirty-seven Qualities conducive to Enlightenment
          ( as different aspects of the Path taught by
          the Buddha leading to Enlightenment.
       8. There are three ways of attaining bodhi or Enlightenment: namely
          as a disciple (sraavaka), as a Pratyeka-Buddha and as a
          Samyak-sam-Buddha (perfectly and Fully Enlightened Buddha). We
          accept it as the highest, noblest, and most heroic to follow the
          career of a Bodhisattva and to become a Samyak-sam-Buddha in order
          to save others.
       9. We admit that in different countries there are differences with
          regard Buddhist beliefs and practices. These external forms and
          expressions should not be confused with the essential teachings of
          the Buddha.
   * 1970s: Indonesian Archaeological Service and UNESCO restore Borobodur.
   * 1975: Lao Communist rulers attempted to change attitudes to religion,
     in particular calling on monks to work, not beg. This caused many to
     return to lay life, but Buddhism remains popular.
   * 1975-79: Cambodian communists under Pol Pot tried to completely destroy
     Buddhism, and very nearly succeeded. By the time of the Vietnamese
     invasion in 1979 nearly every monk and religious intellectual had been
     either murdered or driven into exile, and nearly every temple and
     Buddhist library had been destroyed.
   * 1980: Burmese military government asserts authority over the sangha.
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