Buddhist Timeline

The history of Buddhism at a glance.

c. 485 BCE Birth of the Buddha
c. 450 BCE The Buddha’s enlightenment and first sermon
c. 405 BCE Death of the Buddha
c. 400 BCE First Buddhist Council
c. 400 BCE Monks spread Buddhism in northern India
c. 350 BCE Second Buddhist Council
322 BCE Buddhist empire under Chandragupta Maurya
c. 300 BCE Notable Buddhist community founded at Nagpur
c. 300 BCE Buddhism arrives in SE Asia
c. 263 BCE Emperor Asoka converts to Buddhism
c. 260 BCE Asoka declares Buddhism the official religion of the Mauryan Empire
250 BCE Third Buddhist Council overseen by Asoka; Great Schism; Theravada Buddhism defined
247 BCE Emperor Asoka’s son Mahinda converts king of Sri Lanka to Buddhism
c. 220 BCE Lo Yang monastery becomes Buddhist center
c. 200 BCE Buddhist cave dwellings built at Bhaja
189 BCE Chinese refugees bring Buddhism to Vietnam
c. 185 BCE Beginning of Sunga Empire; Buddhism suppressed
c. 100 BCE Fourth Buddhist Council; compiliation of Mahavibhasa
25 BCE Buddhist scriptures first written down
17 BCE Schism among Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka
17 BCE Tripitaka (Theravada Buddhist Canon) completed in Sri Lanka
-1th Indian Buddhists settle in Southeast Asia
68 Buddhist White Horse Temple constructed
78 Emperor Ming sends Buddhist monks to India to acquire scriptures
c. 90 Buddhist statues created in Gandhara
c. 100 Mahayana Buddhism develops in southern India
c. 100 Theravada Buddhism has been established in sourthern Burma
c. 127 Kanishka, a Buddhist, becomes king of the Kushans who control the Silk Road
c. 147 An Shigo translates Buddhist texts from Sanskrit to Chinese
c. 260 Chinese Buddhists begin making pilgrimages to sites associated with the Buddha
296 Earliest surviving Chinese Buddhist text, the Zhu Fo Yao Ji Jing
4th Rise of Vajrayana Buddhism
347 First translation of Buddhist texts into Chinese
c. 350 Dunhuang becomes Buddhist center
350 Buddhist philosophy and art flourish under Gupta dynasty in India
c. 366 A vision inspires a Chinese monk to build the Caves of a Thousand Buddhas
372 Buddhism arrives in Korea
372 Chinese monks bring Buddhism to Korea
399 Chinese Buddhist monk Faxian sets out from China to India along the Silk Road
c. 400 There are about 2 million Buddhists and 30,000 monasteries in China
c. 425 Buddhism arrives in Sumatra
485 Monks from Gandhara bring Buddhism to Fusang, which may be Japan
495 Shaolin Buddhist temple established
6th Burma adopts Theravada Buddhism
517 Emperor Wudi converts to Buddhism
527 Korea accepts Buddhism
530 Taoist T’an-luan converts to Buddhism; becomes leader of the Ching’tu school
c. 540 Buddhism is losing influence in India
552 Buddhism enters Japan from Korea
c. 570 Zhiyi classifies the teachings of Chinese Buddhism
572 Prince Shotoku sponsors Buddhism in Japan
c. 580 Buddhist missionaries introduce flower arranging to Japan
606 Harsha rules northern India, converts to Mahayana Buddhism
607 Japanese rules obtain Buddhist scriptures from China
629 Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang creates important records of Buddhism in India after its decline
645 Buddhism arrives in Tibet
c. 650 Pure Land Buddhism taught by Shan-tao
c. 650 Death of King Songsten Gampo of Tibet, whose wives establish Buddhism in Tibet
c. 670 Birth of Gyogi, a monk who will help Buddhism gain popularity in Japan
710 Nara becomes the capital of Japan; Buddhism gains influence
713 Construction begins on the Giant Buddha of Leshan
752 Great Buddha statue erected
c. 804 Tendai and Shingon Buddhism founded
c. 840 King Langdarma persecutes Buddhists in Tibet
843 Persecution of Buddhists under Emperor Wuzong
845 Confucianism made the state ideology of China; Buddhism and Christianity are banned
c. 900 Jain temples created alongside Hindu and Buddhist ones at Ellora
971 Song dynasty commissions the printing of the entire Buddhist canon using 130,000 carved woodblocks
1023 Pure Land Buddhism begins in Japan
1042 Indian Buddhist teacher Atisa is invited to preach in Tibet; beginning of second period of growth of Tibetan Buddhism
1044 King Anawratha of Bagan converts Burma to Theravada Buddhism; begins building temples
1057 Burmese victories in Northern Thailand strengthen Buddhism there
1100 Persecution of Buddhists under Song emperor Huizong
1123 Death of Milaraspa, the miracle-working Tibetan Buddhist monk and poet
c. 1150 Golden age of Buddhist art in Burma
1181 King Jayavarman VII, a Buddhist, becomes king of Khmer Empire; builds Bayon Temple in Angkor
1190 Bagan returns to Theravada Buddhist rule after period of anarchy
1197 Buddhist university at Nalanda sacked by Muslims
1215 Tantric Buddhism introduced to China via a period of Mongol rule
c. 1220 Zen Buddhism introduced to Japan from China by monk Eisai
c. 1238 The new Thai kingdom of Sukhothai makes Theravada Buddhism the state religion
1283 Tradition of seeking reincarnations of leaders begins among Tibetan Black Hat Buddhists
1295 Mongol leader Ghazan Khan converts to Islam; the empire formerly supported Tantric Buddhism
c. 1350 Cambodia adopts Theravada Buddhism
1384 King Lu Thai is ordained a Buddhist monk
1409 Tsong-kha-pa founds the first of three major Buddhist monasteries in Tibet
1484 Shogun Yoshimasa introduces the tea ceremony, which is heavily influenced by Zen Buddhism
1488 Jodo Shinshu Buddhists kill a feudal landowner, beginning a period of violence with ruling classes
1629 Translation of Buddhist texts into Mongolian
1725 Isida Baigan founds the Shingaku religion, based on Shinto, Buddhist and Confucian elements
1785 Temple of the Emerald Buddha built in Bangkok
1796 White Lotus Rebellion, inspired by the imminent return of the Buddha, against Qing Dynasty
1819 Buddhist caves at Ajanta rediscovered by British soldiers
c. 1860 Revival of Buddhism along with growing nationalism in Sri Lanka
1871 Fifth Buddhist Council
1879 King of Burma commissions new edition of Pali Canon; has it engraved on 729 stelae at a Buddhist monaster
1882 Jade Buddha Temple founded, inspired by two jade Buddha statues imported from Burma
1899 Gordon Douglas becomes the first westerner to be ordained in Theravada Buddhism
1900 Shintoism reinstated in Japan as part of an effort to limit Buddhist influence
1930 Soka Gakkai, based in Nichiren Buddhism, founded in Japan
1949 Buddhists regain some control of the site of the Buddha’s Enlightenment at Mahabodhi Temple
1956 Hindu leader B.R. Ambedkar converts to Buddhism along with 350,000 followers, creating the Neo-Buddhist movement
1963 Buddhist monk Thich Quang Durc burns himself to death to protest government oppression of Buddhism
1966 World Buddhist Sangha Council attempts to improve unity between Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism
1975 Communists under Pol Pot attempt to wipe out Buddhism in Cambodia, destroying temples and murdering monks
1992 Giant statue of the Buddha constructed on an island in Hyderabad, India
2001 Destruction of 6th-century standing Buddha statues at Bamiyan by Taliban regime
2006 First World Buddhist Forum
2007 Buddhist monks and nuns lead protests against military rule in Burma