The history of Buddism spans from the 5th century BCE to the present. Siddhārtha Gautama was les Traditions Indo-Asiatiques (Classic Reprint) PDF historical founder of Buddhism.
Followers of Buddhism, called Buddhists in English, referred to themselves as Sakyan-s or Sakyabhiksu in ancient India. Ganges valley, spreading gradually from its ancient heartland. The canonical sources record various councils, where the monastic Sangha recited and organized the orally transmitted collections of the Buddha’s teachings and settled certain disciplinary problems within the community. The Maurya Empire under Emperor Aśoka was the world’s first major Buddhist state. It established free hospitals and free education and promoted human rights.
Approximate reconstitution of the Great Stupa with Ashoka Pillar, Sanchi, India. Map of the Buddhist missions during the reign of Ashoka. Buddhism gained royal support and began to spread more widely reaching most of the Indian subcontinent. It was believed that the practice of devotion to these relics and stupas could bring blessings. Buddhism, as far south as Sri Lanka and as far west as the Greek kingdoms, in particular the neighboring Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, and possibly even farther to the Mediterranean. Some of the edicts of Aśoka describe the efforts made by him to propagate the Buddhist faith throughout the Hellenistic world, which at that time formed an uninterrupted continuum from the borders of India to Greece.
It is not clear how much these interactions may have been influential, but authors like Robert Linssen have commented that Buddhism may have influenced Western thought and religion at that time. Buddhist gravestones from the Ptolemaic period have also been found in Alexandria, decorated with depictions of the Dharma wheel. The presence of Buddhists in Alexandria has even drawn the conclusion that they influenced monastic Christianity. Jetavanaramaya in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka is the biggest brick structure in the world. Sri Lankan chronicles like the Dipavamsa state that Aśoka’s son Mahinda brought Buddhism to the island during the 2nd century BCE. A relief depicting the Amaravathi Mahachaitya or Amarāvatī Stupa, a major site in Andhra Pradesh, India.
Bodhisattvayana, began sometime between 150 BCE and 100 CE, drawing on both Mahasamghika and Sarvastivada trends. It emerged as a set of loose groups associated with new texts named the Mahayana sutras. Mahayana remained a minority among Indian Buddhists for some time, growing slowly until about half of all monks encountered by Xuanzang in 7th-century India were Mahayanists. During 2nd century BCE the Sanchi stupa was nearly doubled in diameter, was encased in stone, and a balustrade and railing was built around it. Modern historians, however, dispute this view in the light of literary and archaeological evidence. They opine that following Aśoka’s sponsorship of Buddhism, it is possible that Buddhist institutions fell on harder times under the Shungas, but no evidence of active persecution has been noted.
Etienne Lamotte observes: « To judge from the documents, Pushyamitra must be acquitted through lack of proof. A Greco-Buddhist statue, one of the first representations of the Buddha, 1st-2nd century AD, Gandhara. Indian Subcontinent, establishing an Indo-Greek kingdom that was to last in parts of Northwest South Asia until the end of the 1st century CE. During the first century BCE the first anthropomorphic representations of the Buddha are found in the lands ruled by the Indo-Greeks, in a realistic style known as Greco-Buddhist. Several influential Greek Buddhist monks are recorded. Yuezhi nomads in the 1st century BCE.
It eventually encompassed much of northern India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Kushans adopted elements of the Hellenistic culture of Bactria and the Indo-Greeks. Kanishka is also said to have convened a major Buddhist council for the Sarvastivada tradition, either in Gandhara or Kashmir. Scholars believe that it was also around this time that a significant change was made in the language of the Sarvāstivādin canon, by converting an earlier Prakrit version into Sanskrit. Extent of Buddhism and trade routes in the 1st century CE. Blue-eyed Central Asian and East-Asian Buddhist monks, Bezeklik, Eastern Tarim Basin, China, 9th and 10th centuries. Central Asia was home to the international trade route known as the Silk Road, which carried goods between China, India, the Middle east and the Mediterranean world.