Buddhism Countries, Sites, History

Faxian travels statue

Faxian (337 – c. 422) was a Chinese Buddhist monk, translator, and the earliest successful Chinese Buddhist pilgrim to India. After being fully ordained at the age of 20, Faxian recognized that the Buddhist monastic rules (the Vinaya) available in China at the time were incomplete and confused and thus vowed to journey to India to search for Vinaya texts. A party of 5 monks...

Buddhism in Śrī Lanka

Śrī Lanka is home to the world’s oldest continuing Buddhist civilization: The Lankan king Devanāṁpiya Tissa (3rd century B.C.E.), a contemporary of the Indian Emperor Aśoka, is said to have been converted to the Buddha’s teachings by Aśoka’s own missionary son, Mahinda. Brāhmī inscriptions etched in stone on drip ledges indicate that hermitages have been dedicated by Buddhist Laity for the meditation needs of monks...

Potala Palace

The Potala palace, one of Tibet’s largest and best known landmarks, is an enormous fortress-like structure located in the Tibetan capital Lhasa. The Potala served as the winter residence of the Dalai Lamas and as the locus of the Tibetan government from the 17th century to the 14th Dalai Lama’s flight from Tibet in 1959. The name refers to Mount Potalaka in India, which is...

Samye Monastery

Founded around 779 C.E., Samye was Tibet’s first Monastery. Although a few temples of worship had been built earlier in Tibet, Samye was the first fully functioning Monastery. Upon its completion, the first 7 Tibetan Buddhist monks were ordained by Śāntarakṣita (725–788), the famous abbot of the Indian monastery Vikramaśīla. Samye played a central role in Trisong Detsen’s lifelong project to make Buddhism the state...

Buddhism in Europe

At the beginning of the 21st century, the presence of Buddhism in Europe is characterized by a diversity of traditions, schools, orders, and lineages: Since the 1970s interest in Buddhism among Europeans has grown steadily, accompanied by the arrival of Buddhist refugees and immigrants from Asian countries. Nevertheless, Buddhism’s public face in Europe and its representation in the media are dominated by convert Buddhists, leaving...

Bodh Gaya

In approximately 250 BCE, about 200 years after the Buddha attained Enlightenment, Buddhist Emperor Aśoka visited Bodh Gaya in order to establish a monastery and shrine on the holy site, which have today disappeared. Though the emperor Aśoka probably established Bodh Gaya and the Bodhi tree as Buddhism’s most sacred Buddhist Pilgrimage site and object, the earliest extant remains and inscriptions are from times of...