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{{short description|Branch of Buddhism}}File:Thuparamaya Stupa and Stone Pillars.jpg|thumb|300px|The Thuparamaya Stupa, the earliest Dagoba in Sri LankaSri LankaFile:Buddhist sects.png|thumb|300px|Map showing the three major Buddhist divisions in Tibet, Mongolia, Nepal, East and Southeast AsiaSoutheast Asia{{TheravadaBuddhism}}{{Buddhism|terse=1}}Theravāda ({{IPAc-en|ˌ|t|ɛr|ə|ˈ|v|ɑː|d|ə}}; Pāli, lit. "School of the Elders")BOOK, Bodhi, Bhikkhu, Gyatso, Tenzin, 14th Dalai Lama, 2005, In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon,weblink Somerville, Massachusetts, Wisdom Publications, ix, 978-0-86171-491-9, WEB,weblink Theravada, Reynolds, Frank E., Kitagawa, Joseph M., Nakamura, Hajime, Hajime Nakamura, Lopez, Donald S., Donald S. Lopez Jr., Tucci, Giuseppe, Giuseppe Tucci, 2018,, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Theravada (Pali: “Way of the Elders”; Sanskrit, Sthaviravada) emerged as one of the Hinayana (Sanskrit: “Lesser Vehicle”) Early Buddhist schools, schools, traditionally numbered at 18, of early Buddhism. The Theravadins trace their lineage to the Sthavira nikāya, Sthaviravada school, one of the two major schools (the Mahāsāṃghika, Mahasanghika was the other) that supposedly formed in the wake of the Second Buddhist council, Council of Vaishali (now in Bihar, Bihar state) held some 100 years after the Buddha’s death. Employing Pali as their sacred language, the Theravadins preserved their version of the Buddha’s teaching in the Tipitaka (“Three Baskets”)., is the most commonly accepted name of Buddhism's oldest extant school. The school's adherents, termed Theravādins, have preserved their version of the Gautama Buddha's teaching in the Pāli Canon. The Pāli Canon is the only complete Buddhist canon surviving in a classical Indian language, Pāli, which serves as the school's sacred language and lingua franca.Crosby, Kate (2013), Theravada Buddhism: Continuity, Diversity, and Identity, p. 2. For over a millennium, theravādins have endeavored to preserve the dhamma as recorded in their school's texts. In contrast to Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna, Theravāda tends to be conservative in matters of doctrine and monastic discipline.Gombrich, Richard (2006), Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo, Routledge; 2nd edition, p. 37.Modern Theravāda derives from the Mahāvihāra sect, a Sri Lankan branch of the Vibhajjavādins, a sub-sect of the Indian Sthavira Nikaya, which began to establish itself on the island from the 3rd century BCE onwards. It was in Sri Lanka that the Pāli Canon was written down and the school's commentary literature developed.From Sri Lanka, the Theravāda Mahāvihāra tradition subsequently spread to the rest of Southeast Asia.BOOK, Buddhism – a modern perspective, Prebish, Charles S., 1975, Pennsylvania State University Press, 0271011858, University Park, 1103133, It is the dominant religion in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand and is practiced by minorities in India, Bangladesh, China, Nepal, and Vietnam. The diaspora of all of these groups, as well as converts around the world, also practice Theravāda.During the modern era, new developments have included Buddhist modernism, the Vipassana movement which reinvigorated Theravāda meditation practice and the Thai Forest Tradition which reemphasized forest monasticism.



missing image!
- Nava Jetavana Temple - Shravasti - 014 King Asoka at the Third Council (9241725897).jpg -
Ashoka and Moggaliputta-Tissa at the Third Council, at the Nava Jetavana, Shravasti
{{EarlyBuddhism}}The name Theravāda comes{{refn|group=lower-alpha| Source says,"Technical terms from Sanskrit were converted into Pali by a set of conventional phonological transformations". Vowels and diphthongs from Sanskrit to Pali follow this pattern. Thus 'Sthavira' in Sanskrit becomes 'Thera' in Pali. Sanskrit 'avi' becomes Pali 'e' (i.e. Sthavira → ai → Thera).}} from Sthāvirīya, one of the early Buddhist schools from which Theravādins trace their school's descent. The Sthavira nikāya emerged from the first schism in the Buddhist sangha. At issue was its adherents' desire to add new Vinaya rules tightening monastic discipline, against the wishes of the majority Mahāsāṃghika.Skilton, Andrew. A Concise History of Buddhism. 2004. pp. 49, 64 According to its adherents' accounts, the Theravāda school derives from the Vibhajjavāda "doctrine of analysis" group,Cousins, Lance (2001). "On the Vibhajjavādins", Buddhist Studies Review 18 (2), 131–182 which was a division of the Sthāvirīya.Damien Keown denies that there is historical evidence of the Theravāda school's existence before around two centuries after the Great Schism, which occurred at the Third Council.Keown, Damien. A Dictionary of Buddhism. 2003. {{ISBN|0-19-860560-9}}. pp. 279–280 Theravadins' own accounts of their school's origins mention that it received the teachings that were agreed upon during the putative Third Buddhist council held around 250 BCE under the patronage of Indian Emperor Ashoka. These teachings were known as the Vibhajjavāda.Hirakawa Akira (translated and edited by Paul Groner), A History Of India Buddhism, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, 1993, p. 109. Emperor Ashoka is supposed to have assisted in purifying the sangha by expelling monks who declined to agree to the terms of Third Council.{{citation|last=Crosby|first=Kate|title=Theravada Buddhism: Continuity, Diversity, and Identity|year=2013|pages=1–3|isbn=978-1405189071|publisher=Wiley-Blackwell}} The elder monk Moggaliputta-Tissa chaired the Third council and compiled the Kathavatthu ("Points of Controversy"), a refutation of various opposing views which is an important work in the Theravāda Abhidhamma.Later, the Vibhajjavādins, in turn, is said to have split into four groups: the Mahīśāsaka, Kāśyapīya, Dharmaguptaka in the north, and the Tāmraparṇīya in South India. The Tambapaṇṇiya (later Mahāvihāravāsins), was established in Sri Lanka (at Anuradhapura) but active also in Andhra and other parts of South India (Vanavasa in modern Karnataka) and later across South-East Asia. Inscriptional evidence of this school has been found in Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda.Cousins, LS. On the Vibhajjavadins. The Mahimsasaka, Dhammaguttaka, Kassapiya and Tambapanniya branches of the ancient Theriyas, Buddhist Studies Review 18, 2 (2001). According to Buddhist scholar A. K. Warder, the Theravāda.}}

Transmission to Sri Lanka

(File:116 Sanghamitta and the Bodhi Tree (20256206059).jpg|thumbnail|250px|Sanghamitta and the Bodhi Tree)Theravāda is said to be descended from the Tāmraparṇīya sect, which means "the Sri Lankan lineage". Missionaries sent abroad from India are said to have included Ashoka's son Mahinda (who studied under Moggaliputta-Tissa) and his daughter Sanghamitta. They were the mythical founders of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, a story which scholars suggest helps to legitimize Theravāda's claims of being the oldest and most authentic school. According to the Mahavamsa chronicle, they arrived in Sri Lanka during the reign of Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura (307–267 BCE) who converted to Buddhism and helped build the first Buddhist stupas. According to S. D. Bandaranayake:The first records of Buddha images come from the reign of the King Vasabha (65–109 BCE), and after the 3rd century CE the historical record shows a growth of the worship of Buddha images as well as Bodhisattvas. In the 7th century, the Chinese pilgrim monks Xuanzang and Yijing refer to the Buddhist schools in Sri Lanka as Shàngzuòbù ({{zh|c=上座部}}), corresponding to the Sanskrit Sthavira nikāya and Pāli Thera Nikāya.Samuel Beal, "Si-Yu-Ki â€“ Buddhist Records of the Western World â€“ Translated from the Chinese of Hiuen Tsiang AD 629", published by Tuebner and Co, London (1884), reprint by the Oriental Book Reprint Corporation, New Delhi (1983), Digital version: Chung-hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies, Taipei. Yijing writes, "In Sri Lanka, the Sthavira school alone flourishes; the Mahasanghikas is expelled".Samuel Beal, "The Life of Hiuen-Tsiang: By the Shaman Hwui Li. With an introduction containing an account of the works of I-tsing", published by Tuebner and Co, London (1911), Digital version: University of Michigan.The school has been using the name Theravāda for itself in a written form since at least the 4th century, about one thousand years after the Buddha's death, when the term appears in the DÄ«pavaṁsa.It is used in the Dipavamsa (quoted in Debates Commentary, Pali Text society, p. 4), which is generally dated to the 4th century.{{request quotation|date=July 2015}}Between the reigns of Sena I (833–853) and Mahinda IV (956–972), the city of Anuradhapura saw a "colossal building effort" by various kings during a long period of peace and prosperity, the great part of the present architectural remains in this city date from this period.Bandaranayake, S.D. Sinhalese Monastic Architecture: The Viháras of Anurádhapura, p. 25

Development of the Pāli textual tradition

File:Buddhaghosa_with_three_copies_of_Visuddhimagga.jpg|thumbnail|Buddhaghosa (c. 5th century), the most important Abhidharma scholar of Theravāda Buddhism, presenting three copies of the VisuddhimaggaVisuddhimaggaThe Sri Lankan Buddhist Sangha initially preserved the Buddhist scriptures (the Tipitaka) orally as it had been traditionally done, however during the first century BCE, famine and wars led to the writing down of these scriptures. The Sri Lankan chronicle The Mahavamsa records: "Formerly clever monks preserved the text of the Canon and its commentaries orally, but then, when they saw the disastrous state of living beings, they came together and had it written down in books, that the doctrine might long survive."Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism, a social history from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo, Routledge; 2 edition (2006), p. 152Richard Gombrich remarks that this is "the earliest record we have of Buddhist scriptures being committed to writing anywhere". With few exceptions, surviving Theravādin Pāli texts derive from the Mahavihara (monastic complex) of Anuradhapura, the ancient Sri Lankan capital.Pollock, Sheldon I. Literary Cultures in History: Reconstructions from South Asia, p. 650Later developments included the formation and recording of the Theravāda commentary literature (Atthakatha). Theravāda tradition holds that a tradition of Indian commentaries on the scriptures existed even during Mahinda's early days.Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism, a social history from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo, Routledge; 2 edition (2006), p. 153 Prior to the writing of the classic Theravādin Pāli commentaries, there were also various commentaries on the Tipitaka written in the Sinhalese language, such as the Maha-atthakatha ("Great commentary"), the main commentary tradition of the Mahavihara monks.Law, A history of Pali literature, 349.Of great importance to the commentary, tradition is the work of the great Theravāda scholastic Buddhaghosa (4th–5th century CE), who is responsible for most of the Theravāda commentarial literature that has survived (any older commentaries have been lost). Buddhaghosa wrote in Pāli, and after him, most Sri Lankan Buddhist scholastics did as well.Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism, a social history from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo, Routledge; 2 edition (2006), p. 154 This allowed the Sri Lankan tradition to become more international through a lingua franca so as to converse with monks in India and later Southeast Asia.Theravāda monks also produced other Pāli literature such as historical chronicles (e.g. Mahavamsa), hagiographies, practice manuals, summaries, textbooks, poetry, and Abhidhamma works such as the Abhidhammattha-sangaha and the Abhidhammavatara. Buddhaghosa's work on Abhidhamma and Buddhist practice outlined in works such as the Visuddhimagga and the Atthasalini are the most influential texts apart from the Pāli Canon in the Theravādin tradition. Other Theravādin Pāli commentators and writers include Dhammapala and Buddhadatta. Dhammapala wrote commentaries on the Pāli Canon texts, which Buddhaghosa had omitted, and also wrote a commentary called the Paramathamanjusa on Buddhaghosa's Visuddhimagga.

Sri Lankan Theravāda sects

File:SRL-anuradhapura-abhagiriya-2.jpg|thumb|The restored Abhayagiri Dagoba (stupa) in AnuradhapuraAnuradhapuraOver much of the early history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, there were three subdivisions of Theravāda, consisting of the monks of the Mahāvihāra, Abhayagiri vihāra and Jetavana,Warder, A.K. Indian Buddhism. 2000. p. 280 each of which were based in Anuradhapura. The Mahāvihāra was the first tradition to be established, while Abhayagiri Vihāra and Jetavana Vihāra were established by monks who had broken away from the Mahāvihāra tradition. According to A. K. Warder, the Indian Mahīśāsaka sect also established itself in Sri Lanka alongside the Theravāda, into which they were later absorbed. Northern regions of Sri Lanka also seem to have been ceded to sects from India at certain times.When the Chinese monk Faxian visited the island in the early 5th century, he noted 5000 monks at Abhayagiri, 3000 at the Mahāvihāra, and 2000 at the Cetiyapabbatavihāra.Hirakawa, Akira; Groner, Paul. A History of Indian Buddhism: From Śākyamuni to Early Mahāyāna. 2007. p. 121The Mahavihara ("Great Monastery") school became dominant in Sri Lanka at the beginning of the 2nd millennium CE and gradually spread through mainland Southeast Asia. It established itself in Myanmar in the late 11th century, in Thailand in the 13th and early 14th centuries, and in Cambodia and Laos by the end of the 14th century. Although Mahavihara never completely replaced other schools in Southeast Asia, it received special favor at most royal courts. This is due to the support it received from local elites, who exerted a very strong religious and social influence.WEB,weblink Importance of Mahavihara as the centre of Theravada Buddhism.doc – Bhikkhu – Sri Lanka, Scribd,

Mahāyāna influence

File:British Museum Asia 45 (cropped).jpg|thumb|Gilded bronze solid cast statue of the Bodhisattva Tara, Sri Lanka, 8th century CE. This sculpture was found on the east coast of Sri Lanka between Batticaloa and Trincomalee and is evidence of the presence of Mahayana Buddhism in the Anuradhapura periodAnuradhapura periodAbhayagiri Theravādins maintained close relations with Indian Buddhists over the centuries, adopting many of the latter's teachings,Hirakawa, Akira. Groner, Paul. A History of Indian Buddhism: From Śākyamuni to Early Mahāyāna. 2007. p. 124 including many Mahāyāna elements, whereas Jetavana Theravādins adopted Mahāyāna to a lesser extent.Gombrich, Richard Francis. Theravāda Buddhism: A Social History. 1988. p. 158 Xuanzang wrote of two major divisions of Theravāda in Sri Lanka, referring to the Abhayagiri tradition's adherents as "Mahāyāna Sthaviras" and those of the Mahāvihāra tradition as "HÄ«nayāna Sthaviras".Baruah, Bibhuti. Buddhist Sects and Sectarianism. 2008. p. 53 Xuanzang also wrote that the Mahāvihāravāsins reject Mahāyāna as heretical, whereas Abhayagirivihāravāsins study "both HÄ«nayāna and Mahāyāna".Abhayagiri was an influential university and center for the study of Mahayana from the reign of Gajabahu I until the 12th century.Hoiberg, Dale H., ed. (2010). "Abhayagiri". Encyclopædia Britannica. I: A–ak Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, Illinois: Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. p. 30. {{ISBN|978-1-59339-837-8}}. It saw various important Buddhist scholars working in Sanskrit and Pāli. These include Upatissa (who wrote the Vimuttimagga), Kavicakravarti Ananda (authored the SaddhammopÃ¥yana), Aryadeva, Aryasura, and the tantric masters Jayabhadra, and CandramÃ¥li.Rangama, Chandawimala;The impact of the Abhayagiri practices on the development of Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka, 2007Akira Hirakawa notes that the surviving Pāli commentaries ({{IAST|Aá¹­á¹­hakathā}}) of the Mahāvihāra school, when examined closely, also include a number of positions that agree with Mahāyāna teachings.Hirakawa, Akira. Groner, Paul. A History of Indian Buddhism: From Śākyamuni to Early Mahāyāna. 2007. p. 257 Kalupahana notes the same for the Visuddhimagga, the most important Theravāda commentary.{{sfn|Kalupahana|1994|pp=206–208}}It is known that in the 8th century, both Mahāyāna and the esoteric Vajrayāna form of Buddhism were being practised in Sri Lanka, and two Indian monks responsible for propagating Esoteric Buddhism in China, Vajrabodhi and Amoghavajra, visited the island during this time.Hirakawa, Akira. Groner, Paul. A History of Indian Buddhism: From Śākyamuni to Early Mahāyāna. 2007. pp. 125–126 Abhayagiri Vihāra appears to have been a center for Theravādin Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna teachings."Esoteric Buddhism in Southeast Asia in the Light of Recent Scholarship" by Hiram Woodward. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 35, No. 2 (June 2004), p. 341

Reign of Parakramabahu I

File:Gal Viharaya 02.jpg|thumb|Parakramabahu I commissioned various religious projects such as Gal Vihara ('The Stone Shrine') in PolonnaruwaPolonnaruwaThe trend of the Abhayagiri Vihara being a dominant sect changed in the 12th century, when the Mahāvihāra sect gained the political support of Parakramabahu I (1153–1186), who completely abolished the Abhayagiri and Jetavanin traditions.BOOK, Hirakawa, Akira, Groner, Paul, A History of Indian Buddhism: From Śākyamuni to Early Mahāyāna,weblink 1993, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-0955-0, 126, BOOK, Queen, Christopher S., Williams, Duncan Ryuken, American Buddhism: Methods and Findings in Recent Scholarship,weblink 2013, Routledge, 978-1-136-83033-4, 134, The Theravāda monks of these two traditions were defrocked and given the choice of either returning to the laity permanently, or attempting reordination under the Mahāvihāra tradition as "novices" ({{IAST|sāmaṇera}}).Gombrich, Richard. Theravāda Buddhism: A Social History From Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo. 1988. p. 159 Richard Gombrich writes:Gombrich, Richard. Theravāda Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo. 1988. p. 159It seems that part of the reason for these radical moves was that Parakramabahu I saw the Sangha as being divided, corrupt and in need of reform, especially the Abhayagiri.Paranavitana, History of Ceylon, p. 215 The {{IAST|Cūḷavaṁsa}} laments that at this time Theravāda monks had "turned away in their demeanor from one another and took delight in all kinds of strife".{{citation|last=Sujato|first=Bhante|authorlink=Bhante Sujato|title=Sects & Sectarianism: The Origins of Buddhist Schools |publisher=Santipada|year=2012|ISBN=978-1921842085|page=69}} This chronicle also claims that many monks in the Sri Lankan Sangha had even begun to marry and have children, behaving more like lay followers than monastics.Culavamsa, LXXVIII, 1–3 Parākramabāhu's chief monastic leader in these reforms was Mahathera Kassapa, an experienced monk well versed in the Scriptures and the Monastic discipline.Culavamsa, LXXVIII, 7Parakramabahu I is also known for rebuilding the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, restoring Buddhist stupas and Viharas (monasteries).Perera, HR; Buddhism in Sri Lanka A Short History, Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy, Sri Lanka, page He appointed a Sangharaja, or "King of the Sangha", a monk who would preside over the Sangha and its ordinations in Sri Lanka, assisted by two deputies. The reign of Parakkamabāhu also saw a flowering of Theravāda scholasticism with the work of prominent Sri Lankan scholars such as Anuruddha, Sāriputta Thera, Mahākassapa Thera of Dimbulagala Vihara and Moggallana Thera. They worked on compiling of subcommentaries on the Tipitaka, texts on grammar, summaries and textbooks on Abhidhamma and Vinaya such as the influential Abhidhammattha-sangaha of Anuruddha.

Spread to Southeast Asia

File:BawbawgyiPaya.jpg|thumb|Bawbawgyi Pagoda at Sri KsetraSri KsetraAccording to the Mahavamsa, a Sri Lankan chronicle, after the conclusion of the Third Buddhist council, a mission was sent to Suvarnabhumi, led by two monks, Sona and Uttara.Mahavamsa: The great chronicle of Ceylon tr. Wilhelm Geiger. Pali Text Society, 1912, pp. 82, 86 Scholarly opinions differ as to where exactly this land of Suvarnabhumi was located, but it is generally believed to have been located somewhere in the area of Lower Burma, Thailand, the Malay Peninsula, or Sumatra.From the 8th to the 12th centuries Indian Buddhist traditions arrived in Southeast Asia via the Bay of Bengal from India.Frasch, Tilman. "The Theravaada Buddhist Ecumene in the Fifteenth Century: Intellectual Foundations and Material Representations" in Buddhism Across Asia, Networks of Material, Intellectual and Cultural Exchange, Volume 1 – Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (2014), p. 347. Before the 12th century, the areas of Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia were dominated by Buddhist sects from India, and included the teachings of Mahāyāna Buddhism.{{citation|last=Sujato|first=Bhante|authorlink=Bhante Sujato|title=Sects & Sectarianism: The Origins of Buddhist Schools |publisher=Santipada|year=2012|ISBN=978-1921842085|page=72}}Baruah, Bibhuti. Buddhist Sects and Sectarianism. 2008. p. 131 In the 7th century, Yijing noted in his travels that in these areas, all major sects of Indian Buddhism flourished.After the 12th century Buddhism mostly disappeared from India and Theravāda Buddhism came to dominate Southeast Asia.Frasch, Tilman; p. 350.


File:Bagan, Burma.jpg|thumb|right|Ruins of Bagan, an ancient capital of Myanmar. There are more than 2,000 kyaungkyaungThough there are some early accounts that have been interpreted as Theravāda in Myanmar, the surviving records show that most Burmese Buddhism incorporated Mahāyāna, and used Sanskrit rather than Pāli.Smith, Huston & Novak, Philip. Buddhism: A Concise Introduction. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2003Gombrich, Richard Francis. Theravāda Buddhism: A Social History. 1988. p. 137 After the decline of Buddhism in India, missions of monks from Sri Lanka gradually converted Burmese Buddhism to Theravāda, and in the next two centuries also brought Theravāda Buddhism to the areas of Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, where it supplanted previous forms of Buddhism.Gombrich, Richard Francis. Theravāda Buddhism: A Social History. 1988. p. 3The Mon and Pyu were among the earliest people to inhabit Myanmar. The oldest surviving Buddhist texts in the Pāli language come from Pyu city-state of Sri Ksetra. The text, which is dated from the mid 5th to mid 6th century, is written on twenty-leaf manuscript of solid gold.WEB, Professor Janice Stargardt, Historical Geography of Burma: Creation of enduring patterns in the Pyu period, IIAS Newsletter Online, No 25, Theme Burmese Heritage,weblink Peter Skilling concludes that there is firm evidence for the dominant presence of Theravāda in "the Irrawaddy and Chao Phraya basins, from about the 5th century CE onwards", though he adds that evidence shows that Mahāyāna was also present.Skilling, Peter. The Advent of Theravada Buddhism to Mainland South-east Asia.The Burmese slowly became Theravādin as they came into contact with and conquered the Pyu and Mon civilizations beginning in the 11th century during the reign of the Bamar king Anawrahta (1044–1077) of the Pagan Kingdom. He acquired the Pāli scriptures in a war against the Mon as well as from Sri Lanka and build stupas and monasteries at his capital of Bagan.BOOK, Lieberman, Victor B, Strange Parallels: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c. 800–1830, Volume 1: Integration on the Mainland, 2003, Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-80496-7, 115–116, Various invasions of Burma by neighboring states and the Mongol invasions of Burma (13th century) damaged the Burmese sangha and Theravāda had to be reintroduced several times into the country from Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Cambodia and Thailand

File:CambodgePhnomPenhNaga.JPG|thumb|Stairway to Wat Phnom guarded by Nagas, the oldest Buddhist structure at the Cambodian capital of Phnom PenhPhnom PenhFile:201312131121c HL ps Sukothai, Wat Mahathat.jpg|thumb|Sukhothai Historical ParkSukhothai Historical ParkThe Khmer Empire (802–1431) centered in Cambodia was initially dominated by Hinduism; Hindu ceremonies and rituals were performed by Brahmins, usually only held among ruling elites of the king's family, nobles, and the ruling class. Tantric Mahayana Buddhism was also a prominent faith, promoted by Buddhist emperors such as Jayavarman VII (1181–1215) who rejected the Hindu gods and presented himself as a Bodhisattva King.During his reign, King Jayavarman VII (c. 1181–1218) sent his son Tamalinda to Sri Lanka to be ordained as a Buddhist monk and study Theravāda Buddhism according to the Pāli scriptural traditions in the Mahavihara monastery. Tamalinda then returned to Cambodia and promoted Buddhist traditions according to the Theravāda training he had received, galvanizing and energizing the long-standing Theravāda presence, which had existed throughout the Angkor empire for centuries. During the 13th and 14th centuries, Theravādin monks from Sri Lanka continued introducing orthodox Theravāda Buddhism, which eventually became the dominant faith among all classes.Keyes, 1995, pp. 78–82 Monastics replaced members of the local priestly classes, purveying religion, education, culture, and social service for Cambodian villages. This change in Cambodian Buddhism led to high levels of literacy among Cambodians.Gyallay-Pap, Peter. "Notes of the Rebirth of Khmer Buddhism", Radical Conservativism.In Thailand, Theravāda existed alongside Mahayana and other religious sects before the rise of Sukhothai Kingdom.Prapod Assavavirulhakarn. The Ascendancy of Theravada Buddhism in Southeast Asia. Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books, 2010. During the reign of King Ram Khamhaeng (c. 1237/1247–1298) Theravāda was made the main state religion and promoted by the king as the orthodox form of Thai Buddhism.Despite its success in Southeast Asia, Theravāda Buddhism in China has generally been limited to areas bordering Theravāda countries.

Tantric and esoteric innovations

During the pre-modern era, Southeast Asian Buddhism included numerous elements which could be called tantric and esoteric (such as the use of mantras and yantras in elaborate rituals). The French scholar François Bizot has called this "Tantric Theravāda", and his textual studies show that it was a major tradition in Cambodia and Thailand.Cousins, L.S. (1997), "Aspects of Southern Esoteric Buddhism" Some of these practices are still prevalent in Cambodia and Laos today.Later Theravāda textual materials show new and somewhat unorthodox developments in theory and practice. These developments include what has been called the "Yogāvacara tradition" associated with the Sinhalese Yogāvacara's manual (c. 16th to 17th centuries) and also Esoteric Theravāda also known as Borān kammaṭṭhāna ('ancient practices'). These traditions include new practices and ideas which are not included in classical orthodox Theravāda works like the Visuddhimagga, such as the use of mantras (such as Araham), the practice of magical formulas, complex rituals and complex visualization exercises.Cousins, L.S. (1997), "Aspects of Southern Esoteric Buddhism", in Peter Connolly and Sue Hamilton (eds.), Indian Insights: Buddhism, Brahmanism and Bhakd Papers from the Annual Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions, Luzac Oriental, London: 185–207, 410. {{ISBN|1-898942-153}}Crosby, Kate (2000). "Tantric Theravada: A Bibliographic Essay on the Writings of Francois Bizot and others on the Yogavacara-Tradition", Contemporary Buddhism 1 (2), 141–198 These practices were particularly prominent in the Siam Nikaya before the modernist reforms of King Rama IV (1851–1868) as well as in Sri Lanka.

Modernisation and spread to the West

{{See also|Buddhist modernism|Vipassana movement}}(File:Olcott and Buddhists.jpg|thumb|250px|Henry Olcott and Buddhists (Colombo, 1883).)In the 19th century began a process of mutual influence of both Asian Buddhists and Hinduists, and a Western audience interested in ancient wisdom. Theravāda was also influenced by this process, which lead to Buddhist modernism; especially Helena Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott, founders of the Theosophical Society, had a profound role in this process in Sri Lanka. Simultaneously, vipassana-meditation was re-invented, and in Theravāda countries a lay vipassana practice developed. This took a high flight in East Asia from the 1950s onwards with the vipassana-movement, and from the 1970s also in the west, with western students who popularized vipassana-meditation in the west,{{sfn|McMahan|2008}} giving way to the development and popularisation of mindfulness-practice.{{sfn|Wilson|2014}}

Reaction against Western colonialism

Buddhist revivalism has also reacted against changes in Buddhism caused by colonialist regimes. Western colonialists and Christian missionaries deliberately imposed a particular type of Christian monasticism on Buddhist clergy in Sri Lanka and colonies in Southeast Asia, restricting monks' activities to individual purification and temple ministries.Edmund F. Perry's introduction to Walpola Rahula's The Heritage of the Bhikkhu: A Short History of the Bhikkhu in the Educational, Cultural, Social, and Political Life. Grove Press, New York, 1974, p. xii. Prior to British colonial control, monks in both Sri Lanka and Burma had been responsible for the education of the children of lay people, and had produced large bodies of literature. After the British takeover, Buddhist temples were strictly administered and were only permitted to use their funds on strictly religious activities. Christian ministers were given control of the education system and their pay became state funding for missions.Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah, Buddhism Betrayed? The University of Chicago Press, 1992, pp. 35–36.Foreign, especially British, rule had an enervating effect on the Sangha.Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah, Buddhism Betrayed? The University of Chicago Press, 1992, p. 28. According to Walpola Rahula, Christian missionaries displaced and appropriated the educational, social, and welfare activities of the monks, and inculcated a permanent shift in views regarding the proper position of monks in society through their institutional influence upon the elite. Many monks in post-colonial times have dedicated themselves to undoing these changes.Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah, Buddhism Betrayed? The University of Chicago Press, 1992, p. 29. Movements intending to restore Buddhism's place in society have developed in both Sri Lanka and Myanmar.Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah, Buddhism Betrayed? The University of Chicago Press, 1992, pp. 63–64.One consequence of the reaction against Western colonialism has been a modernization of Theravāda Buddhism: Western elements have been incorporated, and meditation practice has opened to a lay audience. Modernized forms of Theravādan practice have spread to the West.{{sfn|McMahan|2008}}

Sri Lanka

{{See also|Buddhism in Sri Lanka}}File:Zahntempel Kandy.jpg|thumb|250px|The Temple of the ToothTemple of the ToothIn Sri Lanka, Theravādins were looking to Western culture for means to revitalize their own tradition{{Citation|title=Buddhism in Sri Lanka|date=2019-07-07|url=|work=Wikipedia|language=en|access-date=2019-07-18}}. Christian missionaries were threatening the indigenous culture.{{sfn|Gombrich|1996|pp=177–181}} As a reaction to this, Theravādins became active in spreading Buddhism and debating Christians. They were aided by the Theosophical Society, whose members were dedicated to searching for wisdom within ancient sources. Anagarika Dharmapala was one of the Theravāda leaders with whom the Theosophists sided. Dharmapala reached out to the middle classes, offering them religious practice and a religious identity, which were used to withstand the British imperialists. As a result of Dharmapala's efforts, lay practitioners started to practise meditation and study Buddhism, which had been reserved specifically for the monks.{{sfn|Gombrich|1996|pp=172–197}}The Pali Text Society's translation and publication of the Pāli Canon improved its availability to lay audiences in the both the West and the East. The Theosophical Society promoted western-lay interest in Theravāda Buddhism, which endured until the beginning of the 20th century. Interest rose again during the 1970s, leading to a surge of Westerners searching for enlightenment, and republication of the Pāli Canon, first in print, and later on the Internet.


{{See also|Buddhism in Myanmar}}(File:Chattha Sangāyana.jpg|thumb|Convening of the Sixth Buddhist council at the Great Cave.)An influential modernist figure in Myanmar Buddhism was king Mindon Min (1808–1878). He promoted the Fifth Buddhist council (1871) and inscribed the Pali canon into marble slabs, creating the world's largest book in 1868. During his reign, various reformist sects came into being such as the Dwaya and the Shwegyin, who advocated a stricter monastic conduct than the mainstream Thudhamma tradition.Swearer, Donald K. The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia: Second Edition, p. 161. During colonial Burma, there were constant tensions between Christian missionaries and Buddhist monks (which included one of the first Western convert monks, U Dhammaloka). After independence, Myanmar was also the place for the Sixth Buddhist council (Vesak 1954 to Vesak 1956), which was attended by monks from eight Theravāda nations to recite the Pāli Canon. The Council synthesized a new redaction of the Pāli texts ultimately transcribed into several native scripts. In Myanmar, this Chaṭṭha Saṅgīti Piṭaka (Sixth council Pitaka) was published by the government in 40 volumes.Modern vipassanā meditation practice was re-invented in Myanmar in the 19th century. The "New Burmese method" was developed by U Nārada and popularized by his student Mahasi Sayadaw and Nyanaponika Thera. Another prominent teacher is Bhikkhu Bodhi, a student of Nyanaponika. The New Burmese Method strongly emphasizes vipassanā over samatha. It is regarded by traditionalists as a simplification of traditional Buddhist meditation techniques, suitable not only for monks but also for lay practitioners. The method has been popularized in the West by teachers of the vipassana movement such as Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach, Gil Fronsdal and Sharon Salzberg.The Ledi lineage begins with Ledi Sayadaw.{{sfn|Braun|2018}} S. N. Goenka is a well-known teacher in the Ledi-lineage. According to S. N. Goenka, vipassana techniques are essentially nonsectarian in character, and have universal application. Meditation centers teaching the vipassanā popularized by S. N. Goenka exist now in India, Asia, North and South America, Europe, Australia, Middle East and Africa.WEB,weblink Vipassana Meditation,, en-US, 2017-05-31,

Thailand and Cambodia

{{See also|Buddhism in Thailand|Buddhism in Cambodia}}File:Mongkut in the Sangha.jpeg|thumb|upright|right|From 1824–1851 Prince MongkutMongkutWith the coming to power in 1851 of King Mongkut, who had been a monk himself for twenty-seven years, the sangha, like the kingdom, became steadily more centralized and hierarchical, and its links to the state more institutionalized. Mongkut was a distinguished scholar of Pāli Buddhist scripture.Swearer, Donald K. The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia: Second Edition, p. 162. Moreover, at that time the immigration of numbers of monks from Burma was introducing the more rigorous discipline characteristic of the Mon sangha. Influenced by the Mon and guided by his own understanding of the Tipitaka, Mongkut began a reform movement that later became the basis for the Dhammayuttika Nikaya. Mongkut advocated a stricter adherence to the Vinaya (monastic discipline). He also emphasized study of the scriptures, and rationalism.Swearer, Donald K. The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia: Second Edition, p. 163. His son King Chulalongkorn created a national structure for Buddhist monastics and established a nationwide system of monastic education.In the early 1900s, Thailand's Ajahn Sao Kantasīlo and his student, Mun Bhuridatta, led the Thai Forest Tradition revival movement. In the 20th century notable practitioners included Ajahn Thate, Ajahn Maha Bua and Ajahn Chah.{{sfn|Tiyavanich|1997}} It was later spread globally by Ajahn Mun's students including Ajahn Thate, Ajahn Maha Bua and Ajahn Chah and several Western disciples, among whom the most senior is Luang Por Ajahn Sumedho.Modern Buddhism in Cambodia was strongly influenced by Thai Buddhism. The Dhammayuttika Nikaya was introduced into the country during the reign of King Norodom (1834–1904) and benefited from royal patronage.Harris, Ian (August 2001), "Sangha Groupings in Cambodia", Buddhist Studies Review, UK Association for Buddhist Studies, 18 (I): 65–72 The rule of the Khmer Rouge effectively destroyed Cambodia's Buddhist institutions by disrobing and killing monks and destroying temples.{{Harv|Harris|2001|p=74}} After the end of the regime the Sangha was re-established. An important figure of modern Cambodian Theravāda is Maha Ghosananda who promoted a form of engaged Buddhism to effect social change.

Modern developments

File:Buddhism-meditation-burma.jpg|thumb|200px|A man meditates in MyanmarMyanmarThe following modern trends or movements have been identified.Indian Insights, ed. Connolly & Hamilton, Luzac, London, 1997, pp. 187–189WEB,weblink Modern Theravāda,
  • Modernism: attempts to adapt to the modern world and adopt some of its ideas; including, among other things:
    • Green movement, ecological work.Swearer, Donald K. The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia: Second Edition, p. 155.
    • Syncretism with other Buddhist as well as Hindu (in Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Bali and Thailand) traditions
    • Universal inclusivity
  • Reformism: attempts to restore a supposed earlier, ideal state of Buddhism; includes in particular the adoption of Western scholars' theories of original Buddhism (in recent times the "Western scholarly interpretation of Buddhism" is the official Buddhism prevailing in Sri Lanka and Thailand).Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, volume 28 (part 2), p. 302 (2005)
  • Ultimatism: tendency to concentrate on advanced teachings such as the Four Noble Truths at the expense of more elementary ones
  • Neotraditionalism; includes among other things
    • Revival of ritualism
    • Remythologization
  • Social and political action, including engaged Buddhism, protesting and participating in election politics.Swearer, Donald K. The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia: Second Edition, p. 134.
  • Devotional religiosity
  • Reaction to Buddhist nationalism
  • Renewal of forest monks
  • Revival of meditation practice (by monks and laypersons), emphasizing meditation centers and retreats. Ledi Sayadaw (1846–1923) is particular important in this regard.
  • Revival of the Theravāda bhikkhuni (female monastic) lineage (not recognized by some male sangha authorities).
  • Convert Buddhism in Western countries, establishment of Western monastic orders (especially the Thai forest tradition) and development of Pāli scholarship in Western languages.


Pāli Canon

File:Kyauksa.JPG|thumb|upright|One of the 729 large marble tablets of the Pali Canon (the world's largest book) inscribed using the Burmese alphabet at the Kuthodaw Pagoda in MandalayMandalayAccording to Kate Crosby, for Theravāda, the Pāli Canon is "the highest authority on what constitutes the Dhamma (the truth or teaching of the Buddha) and the organization of the Sangha (the community of monks and nuns)."Crosby, 2013, p. 1.The Sutta and Vinaya portion of the Tipitaka shows considerable overlap in content to the Agamas, the parallel collections used by non-Theravāda schools in India which are preserved in Chinese and partially in Sanskrit, Prakrit, and Tibetan, and the various non-Theravāda Vinayas. On this basis, both these sets of texts are generally believed to be the oldest and most authoritative texts on pre-sectarian Buddhism by scholars. It is also believed that much of the Pāli Canon, which is still used in Theravādin communities, was transmitted to Sri Lanka during the reign of Ashoka. After being orally transmitted (as was the custom for religious texts in those days) for some centuries, the texts were finally committed to writing in the last century BCE, at what Theravādins usually reckon to be the fourth council, in Sri Lanka. Theravāda is one of the first Buddhist schools to commit its complete Canon to writing.Harvey, Introduction to Buddhism, Cambridge University Press, 1990, p. 3.Much of the material in the Canon is not specifically "Theravādan", but the collection of teachings that this school's adnerents preserved from the early, non-sectarian body of teachings. According to Peter Harvey: The Theravādans, then, may have added texts to the Canon for some time, but they do not appear to have tampered with what they already had from an earlier period.Peter Harvey, The Selfless Mind. Curzon Press, 1995, p. 9.The Pāli Tipitaka consists of three parts: the Vinaya Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka and Abhidhamma Pitaka. Of these, the Abhidhamma Pitaka is believed to be a later addition to the first two pitakas, which, in the opinion of many scholars, were the only two pitakas at the time of the First Buddhist Council. The Pāli Abhidhamma was not recognized outside the Theravāda school.The Tipitaka is composed of 45 volumes in the Thai edition, 40 in the Burmese and 58 in the Sinhalese, and a full set of the Tipitaka is usually kept in its own (medium-sized) cupboard.

Vinaya (monastic discipline) and Abhidhamma

According to Kate Crosby:Since much Sutta material overlaps with that found in the Sūtra collections of other Buddhist traditions, it is the Vinaya (monastic discipline) and Abhidhamma that are the most distinctive formal aspects of Theravāda Buddhism, unique to Theravāda.Crosby, 2013, p. 175.The Vibhajjavāda school (‘the analysts’), the branch of the Sthāvira school from which Theravāda is derived, differed from other early Buddhist schools on a variety of teachings.{{sfn|Dutt|1998|pp=211–217}} The differences resulted from the systematization of the Buddhist teachings, which was preserved in the Abhidharmas of the various schools.{{sfn|Warder|2000|p=217}} The unique doctrinal positions of the Theravāda school are expounded in what is known as the Abhidhamma-piṭaka, as well as in the later Pāli commentaries (Aṭṭha-kathā) and sub-commentaries (ṭīkā). Because of the size of this canonical and commentarial literature the Pāli tradition developed a tradition of handbooks and doctrinal summaries, the most influential of which are the Visuddhimagga and the Abhidhammaṭṭhasaṅgaha.Crosby, 2013, 86.The Pāli Abhidhamma is "a restatement of the doctrine of the Buddha in strictly formalized language ... assumed to constitute a consistent system of philosophy".{{sfn|Warder|2000|p=288}} Its aim is not the empirical verification of Buddhist teachings,{{sfn|Warder|2000|p=288}} but "to set forth the correct interpretation of the Buddha's statements in the Sutra to restate his 'system' with perfect accuracy".{{sfn|Warder|2000|p=288}} Because Abhidhamma focuses on analyzing the internal lived experience of beings and the intentional structure of consciousness, the system has often been compared to a kind of phenomenological psychology by numerous scholars such as Nyanaponika, Bhikkhu Bodhi and Alexander Piatigorsky.Ronkin, Noa, Early Buddhist Metaphysics: The Making of a Philosophical Tradition (Routledge curzon Critical Studies in Buddhism) 2011, p. 5.The Theravāda school has traditionally held the doctrinal position that the canonical Abhidhamma Pitaka was actually taught by the Buddha himself.James P. McDermott, Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, Volume VII: Abhidharma Buddhism to 150 A.D. p. 80. Modern scholarship in contrast, has generally held that the Abhidhamma texts date from the 3rd century BCE."Abhidhamma Pitaka." Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008. However some scholars, such as Frauwallner, also hold that the early Abhidhamma texts developed out of exegetical and catechetical work which made use of doctrinal lists which can be seen in the suttas, called matikas.Ronkin, Noa, Early Buddhist Metaphysics: The Making of a Philosophical Tradition (Routledge curzon Critical Studies in Buddhism) 2011, pp. 27–30.Frauwallner, Erich. Kidd, Sophie Francis (translator). Steinkellner, Ernst (editor). Studies in Abhidharma Literature and the Origins of Buddhist Philosophical Systems. SUNY Press. pp. 18, 100.

Non-canonical literature

In the 4th or 5th century Buddhaghosa Thera, wrote the first Pāli commentaries to much of the Tipitaka (which were based on much older manuscripts, mostly in old Sinhalese), including commentaries on the Nikayas and his commentary on the Vinaya, the Samantapāsādikā. Buddhaghosa wrote as part of the Mahavihara tradition in Sri Lanka, a tradition which came to dominate the island and all of Theravāda after the 12th century.Crosby, 2013, p. 86.After him many other monks wrote various texts, which have become part of Theravāda's heritage. These texts do not have the same authority as the Tipitaka does, though Buddhaghosas Visuddhimagga is a cornerstone of the commentarial tradition.Another important genre of Theravādin literature is shorter handbooks and summaries, which serve as introductions and study guides for the larger commentarial works. Two of the more influential summaries are Sariputta Thera's Pālimuttakavinayavinicchayasaṅgaha, a summary of Buddhaghosa's Vinaya commentary and Anuruddha's Abhidhammaṭṭhasaṅgaha (Manual of Abhidhamma).The Pāli texts and language are symbolically and ritually important for many Theravādins; however, most people are likely to access Buddhist teachings though vernacular literature, oral teachings, sermons, art and performance as well as films and Internet media.Crosby, 2013, p. 71. According to Kate Crosby, "there is a far greater volume of Theravāda literature in vernacular languages than in Pāli."Crosby, 2013, p. 91.An important genre of Theravādin literature, in both Pāli and vernacular languages are the Jataka tales, stories of the Buddha's past lives. They are very popular among all classes and are rendered in a wide variety of media formats, from cartoons to high literature. The Vessantara Jātaka is one of the most popular of these.Crosby, 2013, p. 109.Theravāda Buddhists consider much of what is found in the Chinese and Tibetan Mahāyāna scriptural collections to be apocryphal, meaning that they are not authentic words of the Buddha.Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2004 (Volume Two), p. 756

Study (pariyatti)

{{See also|Early Buddhism|Abhidhamma}}File:Sermon in the Deer Park depicted at Wat Chedi Liem-KayEss-1.jpeg|thumb|Painting of Buddha's first sermon from Wat Chedi LiemWat Chedi LiemTheravāda traditionally promotes itself as the Vibhajjavāda "teaching of analysis". This doctrine holds that insight must come from the aspirant's experience, application of knowledge, and critical reasoning. However, the Theravādin school's scriptures also emphasize heeding the advice of the wise, considering such advice and evaluation of one's own experiences to be the two tests by which practices should be judged.{{citation needed|date=November 2018}} Yet, in its actual praxis, according to Braun, "the majority of Theravadins and dedicated Buddhists of other traditions, including monks and nuns, have focused on cultivating moral behavior, preserving the Buddha’s teachings (dharma), and acquiring the good karma that comes from generous giving."

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