Timeline of Buddhist history

Major Events
World Figures and Events

 - 120*

6th Century B.C.E. *

. Life of Guatama, the historical Buddha: conventional dates: 566-486 BCE (According to more recent research, revised dates are: 490-410 BCE).

. Persian Empire founded by Cyrus the Great (550 B.C.E.)
. Confucius (551-479)
. Zarathustra (630-553)
. Birth of Mahavira (550)

 - 20

5th Century

. First Buddhist Council at Rajagaha (486) after the Parinirvana*, under the patronage of King Ajatasattu.
The Buddhist Canon as it exist today was settled at this Council and preserved as an oral tradition.

. Socrates (469-399)
. Plato (427-347)
. Battle of Marathon (490)
. Greek-Persian Wars (490-479)
. Partheon Built (438)


4th Century

. Second Buddhist Council at Vesali (386) about 100 year after the Parinirvana.
. First schism of the Sangha occurs in which the Mahasanghika school parts ways with the Sthaviravadins and the Theravadins.
. Non-canonical Buddhist Council at Pataliputra (367)

. Aristotle (384-322)

. Alexander the Great (356-323)
invaded India (327)


3rd Century

. Reign of Indian Emperor Asoka (272-231) who converts and establishes the Buddha's Dharma on a national level for the first time.
. Third Buddhist Council at Pataliputra (250) under the patronage of Emperor Asoka about 200 years after the Parinirvana. . The modern Pali Tipitaka now essentially complete.
. Asoka's son and missionary Ven. Mahinda established Buddhism in Sri Lanka (247)

. Great Wall of China (250)

. Hadrian's Wall circa 3rd Century AD

. Hannibal Barca (247?-183?)


2nd Century

. Beginnings of Mahayana Buddhism (20O).
. Composition of Prajnaparamita literature.
. Historical record has it that two Buddhist missionaries from India in 68 AD, arrived at the court of Emperor Ming (58-75) of the Han Dynasty. They enjoyed imperial favour and stayed on to translate various Buddhist Texts, one of which, The 'Sutra of Forty-two Sections' continues to be popular even today.

. Buddhist monuments: Sanchi, Amaravati, Bodhi Gaya, India. (185-175)

. Han Dynasty in China


1st Century

. The entire scriptural canon of the Theravada School was committed to writing on palm leaves in Pali at the Aloka Cave, near Matale, Sri Lanka (35-32)
. The Milinda-pañha or Questions of King Milinda to Ven. Nagasena.

. 01BCE Mar 1, Start of the revised Julian calendar in Rome.

. Julius Caesar (100-44)

. Virgil, Latin poet (70-19)


1st Century C.E.*

. King Kaniska (78-101) convened the Fourth Buddhist Council at Jalandhar or in Kashmir around 100 C.E. (This is not recognized by the Theravadins).
. Buddhism established in Cambodia 100 C.E and in Vietnam 150 C.E.
. Composition of Lotus Sutra and other Mahayana Buddhist texts.
. Buddhism enters Central Asia and China.

. Jesus of Nazareth (0-33 C.E.)

. Destruction of Jerusalem and the second Temple: (70 C.E.)

. The Buddha first represented in art as human form.


2nd Century

. The Age of Indian Buddhist philosopher Nargarjuna (150) founder of the school of Madhyamika ('the Middle Way').

. Roman Empire reaches the height of its power.
. In 185 C.E, Shunga a Brahman general became the ruler and the Shunga dynasty ruled for 112 years in India.


3rd Century

. Expansion of Buddhism to Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Indonesia.
The Yogacara (meditation) school was founded by Maitreyanatha (3rd century).
. Buddhist influence in Persia spreads through trade.

. Three Kingdoms dynasty (220-265) Division into three states: Wei, Shu, Wu. Many scientific advances adopted from India.
. The Emperor Constantine converts to Christianity (312)


4th Century

. Asanga (310-390) and his brother Vasubandhu (420-500) prominent teachers of the Yogacara school of Buddhism.
.Development of Vajrayana Buddhism in India.
. Translation of Buddhist texts into Chinese by Kumarajiva (344-413) and Hui-yüan (334-416).
. Buddhism enters Korea (372).

. Gupta dynasty exemplified by Chandra Gupta II (375-415) dominated North Central India.

. Saint Augustine (354-430)



5th Century

. Buddhist monastic university founded at Nalanda, India.
. Buddhaghosa composes the Visuddhimagga and major commentaries in Sri Lanka.
. Buddhism established in Burma and Korea.
. Chinese pilgrim Fa-hsien visits India (399-414).
. Amitabha (Amida) Pure Land sect emerges in China.
. Sri lankan Theravadin nuns introduce full ordination lineage into China (433).
. Mahayana Buddhism was introduced into Java, Sumatra, Borneo, mainly by Indian immigrants.

. 5th Century Anglo-Saxon Invasion of England

. Earliest hospital in Sri Lanka (437)

. Fall of the Western Roman Empire (476)


6th Century

. Bodhidharma founder of Ch'an (Zen) arrives in China from India. (526)
. Sui Dynasty in Chinese History (589-617)beginning of Golden Age of Chinese Buddhism.
. Development of T'ien-tai, Hua-yen, Pure Land, and Ch'an schools of Chinese Buddhism.
. Buddhism enters Japan (538) becomes state religion (594).
. Buddhism flourishing in Indonesia.
. Jataka Tales translated into Persian by King Khusru (531-579).

. Prophet Mohammed (570-632)

. The Age of Islamic Expansion

. First pagoda built in China (600)


7th Century

. Construction of Potala Palace, Jokang and Ramoche temples to house Buddha images (641-650)
. Harsa-vardhana ruler of a large empire in northern India from 606 to 647. He was a Buddhist convert in a Hindu era.
. Chinese pilgrim Hsuan-tsang(602-664) visits India.

. Islam sweeps across North Africa (700-800)

. Tang dynasty, China (618-906)


8th Century

. Academic schools (Jöjitsu, Kusha, Sanron, Hossö, Ritsu, and Kegon) proliferate in Japan.
. Great debate between Tibetan and Chinese Buddhist schools.
.Ch'an declared heretical in Tibet.
. Nyingma School of Tibet Buddhism established.
. Borobudur Temple complex built in Java.
. Jataka Tales translated into Syrian and Arabic under title: Kalilag and Damnag.

. Nara Period in Japanese history (710-784)

. First monastery built in Tibet (Sam-ye) (749)

. Moslem invasion of Central Asia (760)

. Charlemagne (742-814)


9th Century

. Khmer kings build Angkor Wat, the world's largest religious monument.

. Tendai School (founded by Saichö (767-822) and Shingon School (founded by Kukai: (774-835) appear in Japan.
. Great Buddhist persecution in China (845)

. Biography of Buddha translated into Greek by Saint John of Damascus and distributed in Christianity as "Balaam" and "Josaphat".

. Heian Period in Japanese history (794-1185)

. First printed book, Diamond Sutra, China (868)


10th Century

. First complete printing of Chinese Buddhist Canon (983), known as the Szechuan edition.

. Buddhism in Thailand (900-1000)

. Islam replaces Buddhism in Central Asia (900-1000).

. Sung Dynasty in Chinese History (960-1279)

. 1000 C.E The population at this time was about 200 million people in the world.


11th Century

. Conversion of King Anawrahta of Pagan (Burma) (1044-77) by Shin Arahan.

. Atisha (982-1054) arrives in Tibet from India (1042).
Marpa (1012-1097) begins Kargyu School of Tibetan Buddhism.
. Milarepa (1040-1123) becomes greatest poet and most popular saint in Tibetan Buddhism.

.The bhikkhu and bhikkhuni (monk and nun) communities at Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, die out following invasions from South India.

. Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism established.
.Revival of Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Burma. . Decline of Buddhism in India.

. 1000-1100 There was a Confucian revival in China.

. Edward the Confessor, English king (1042-1066)

. Great Schism between Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches (1054)

. 1st Crusades (1096-1099)


12th Century

. Theravada Buddhism established in Burma.

. Hönen (1133-1212) founded the Pure Land School of Japanese Buddhism.

. Eisai (1141-1215) founds the Rinzai Zen School of Japanese Buddhism.

. In 1193 the Moslems attacked and conquered Magadha, the heartland of Buddhism in India, and with the destruction of the Buddhist Monasteries and Universities (Valabhi and Nalanda) - in that area Buddhism was wiped out.

. Buddhism in Korea flourishes under the Koryo dynasty (1140-1390).

. Omar Khayyam, Persian poet and mathematician (1044-1123)

. 1119 Bologna University founded in Italy; Paris University, in France, is founded in 1150.

. Kamakura Period in Japanese history (1192-1338)


13th Century

. Shinran (1173-1263 ) founds True Pure Land School of Japanese Buddhism.
.Dogen (1200-1253) founds Soto Zen School of Japanese Buddhism.
.Nichiren (1222-1282) founds school of Japanese Buddhism named after him.
. Mongols converted to Vajrayana Buddhism.

. Theravada Buddhism spreads to Laos.
. Some Buddhist texts still being translated into Arabic, in Persia.

. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226)
. Magna Carta (1215)
. Genghis Khan invades China (1215)
. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
. Mongol conquest of China complete (1279)


14th Century

. Bu-ston collects and edits Tibetan Buddhist Canon.
. Rulers of the north (Chieng-mai) and northeast (Sukhothai) Thailand adopt Theravada Buddhism (becomes state religion in 1360).
. Theravada Buddhism adopted in Cambodia and Laos.
. Tsong-kha-pa (1357-1419) Tibetan Buddhist reformer and founder of Dge-lugs-pa (or Gelugpa, or 'Yellow Hat') order.

. John Wycliffe (1328-1384) English theologian and biblical translator.

. China regains its independence from the Mongols under the Ming dynasty (1368)


15th Century

. Beginning of Dalai Lama lineage in Tibetan Buddhism. . In Cambodia, the Vishnuite temple, Angkor Wat, founded in the 12th century, becomes a Buddhist centre.

. Development of printing in Europe
. Leonardo DaVinci (1452-1519)
. Columbus "finds" the new world (1492)


16th Century

. Tibet's Gelugpa leader receives the title of "Dalai" from Altan Khan (1578).
. "Great Fifth" Dalai Lama meets Qing Emperor Shunzhi near Beijing.

. Martin Luther (1483-1546)
. Protestant Reformation
. Shakespeare, (1564-1616)
. Galileo (1564-1642)


17th Century

. Control of Japanese Buddhism by Tokugawa Shögunate (the ruling feudal government) (I603-1867)
. Hakuin (1686-1769) Priest, writer and artist who helped revive the Rinzai Zen Sect in Japanese Buddhism.

. Japan closes the door to foreigners (1639)
. Pilgrims reach America (1620)
. Galileo recants (1633)
. English Civil War (1642)


18th Century

. Colonial occupation of Sri Lanka, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
. King Kirti Sri Rajasinha obtains bhikkhus from the Thai court to reinstate the bhikkhu ordination line which has died out in Sri Lanka.

. 1700s Age of Enlightenment introduces revolutionary new ideas to Europe.
. American independence (1776)
. French revolution (1789-1802)


19th Century

. New sects begin to emerge in Japanese Buddhism.
. Sri Lankan forest monks go to Burma for reordination (1862)
. First Western translation of the Dhammapada. (German-1862). . German translation of Lotus Sutra, 1852 and pioneer Buddhist scholars, such as Neumann and Odlenburg, first German monk, Nyanatiloka.
. First Chinese Temple in USA (San Francisco) (1853)
. 5th Buddhist Council in Mandalay, Burma (1868-1871) where the text of the Pali Canon was revised and inscribed on 729 marble slabs.

. Meiji Restoration in Japanese history 1868, marking end of military rule.

. 1833 Abolition of slavery in British empire.

. American Civil War (1861-1865)


20th Century

. Buddhist Society of Great Britain, founded (1907).
Buddhist Mission Society in Germany, founded (1903).
. Taishö Shinshü Daizokyö edition of Chinese Buddhist Canon printed in Tokyo (1924-1929).
. Chinese control of Tibetan Buddhism (1950).
.Founding of World Fellowship of Buddhists (1952).
. Buddha Jayanti Year, commemorating 2,500 years of Buddhism (1956).

. 6th Buddhist Council held at Rangoon, Myanmar (Burma) (1954-1956).
. Dalai Lama fleesTibet to India (1959).
. Tibetan Buddhism spreads to western countries.
. First Theravada Monastery established in USA (1966).
. First Sakya (Tibetan) Centre founded in USA (1971).
. First Nyingma (Tibetan) Centre USA (1969).
. Tibetan texts collected, translated and disseminated by Buddhist publishers 1960's.
. H.H. Dalai Lama receives Nobel Peace Prize (1989).

. Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

. WW I (1914-1918)

. Russian revolution (1917-1922)

. 1919 Ernest Rutherford splits atom for first time.

. WW II (1939-1945)

. Cultural Revolution (China) (1966)

. Pope John Paul II pardons Galileo (1995)

. The Fall of the Berlin Wall, the Cold War ends. (1989)