Buddhism Before Common Era

563 BCE : The birth of Siddharth Gautama in a Kshatriya family in Lumbini, Nepal.


534 BCE : Gautama abandons his highly luxurious life and becomes an ascetic.


528 BCE : Gautama attains enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India. He moves to Sarnath to and delivers his first sermon on dharma.


483 BCE : Gautama Buddha dies at Kushinagar in India. Three months later, the first Buddhist council gathers.


400s BCE : The Kharosthi script, also known as the Gandhari script is brought in use.


383 BCE : The Second Buddhist Council is convened in Vaishali in India.


367 BCE : Non Canonical Buddhist Council is convened at Pataliputra.


300 BCE : The oldest Brahmi script discovered by archaeologists date from this era.


250 BCE : Third Buddhist council is convened by King Ashoka in Patliputra. The Council is presided over by Moggaliputta Tissa. Also, the first completely developed Kharosthu script dates back from this period.


220 BCE : Ashoka’s missionary Mahinda visits Sri Lanka and Theravada Buddhism is officiallly introduced in the country. The king of Sri Lanka at this point of time is Devanampiya Tissa.


180 BCE : Demetrius, a Greco-Bactrian king conquers India as far as Pataliputra and lays down the foundation of Indo-Greek Kingdom. Under his rule, Buddhism develops rapidly.


150 BCE : Indo Greek king, Meander I adopts Buddhism under the guidance of sage Nagasena (Milinda Panha).


120 BCE : The Chinese Emperor, Han Wudi accepts two golden statues of the Buddha. Reference regarding this is found in Mogao caves inscriptions in Dunhuang city.


29 BCE : Pali cannon is written down in Sri Lanka during the reign of King Vaagami.

Buddhism in the Common Era

1st Century

  • China :
    • 65 CE, Liu Ying sponsors Buddhism in China. This becomes the first recorded case of Buddhist practice in China.
    • 67 CE, Buddhism arrives in China with two monks, Moton and Chufarlan.
    • 68 CE, The White Horse temple is constructed in China and with this Buddhism is officially introduced in China.
    • 78 CE, Ban Chao, a Chinese General, over powers the Buddhist Kingdom of Khotan.
  • India :
    • The Fourth Buddhist Council is convened near the Indian city, Jalandar or Kashmir. This is the time when the Kushana king, Kanishka is in power.

2nd Century

  • China :
    • 148 CE, An Shigao, a Parthian prince and Buddhist monk, comes to China and begins to translate the Theravada texts into Chinese.
    • 178 CE, the Kushan monk Lokaksema comes to China and begins to translate the Mahayana texts into Chinese. He is the first one who is known to do so.
  • Vietnam : Buddhists from India and central Asia visit Vietnam

3rd Century

  • China :
    • The earliest Chinese scriptures that have been discovered belong to this year, 296 CE.

4th Century

  • Korea :
    • Buddhism makes an entry in the country of Korea.
  • India :
    • Nalanda University grows into prominence as an education center and houses around 3000-10,000 monks.
  • China :
    • ~399-414 CE, Chinese pilgrim Fa-Hien visits India. Later, he goes back to China to translate Buddhist texts into Chinese.

5th Century

  • China :
    • 402 CE, Kumarajiva comes to China and translates many Buddhist texts in to Chinese.
    • 465 CE, Buddhabhadra arrives in China and begins to preach Buddhism.
    • 495 CE, the Shaolin Temple is constructed in the honor of Buddhabhadra.

6th Century

  • Vietnam :
    • Zen Buddhists find their way into Vietnam. Jataka stories are translated into Persian under Zoroastrian king Khosrau.
  • China :
    • ~520 CE, Bodhidharma arrives in China from India and settles in Shaolin Monastery.
    • 581 CE, Sui dynasty gains power in China.Under this dynasty, Buddhism flourishes tremendously in China.
    • The Sui dynasty remains in power till 619 and this is the golden age of Chinese Buddhism.
  • Japan :
    • ~538-552 CE, Buddhism is introduced in Japan and goes on to become the state religion by the end of the century. 

7th Century

  • China :
    • 618 CE, Tang dynasty comes to power in China. 
  • Tibet :
    • Buddhism is established in Tibet.

8th Century

  • Japan :
    • Nara period in Japanese history begins and continues.
    • The Chinese monk Jianzhen reaches Japan and establishes the Japanese Ritsu school.
  • Tibet :
    • Padmasambhava arrives in Tibet and the first Tibetan Monastery, Samye, comes up.
    • The Nying-ma-pa School of Tibetan Buddhism is established.

9th Century

  • Japan :
    • 804 CE, the Japanese Shingon school and Japanese Tendai school are established.
  • China :
    • ~840 CE, the greatest Buddhist persecution in China.
  • Tibet :
    • Buddhism declines in Tibet too in the middle of the 800s.

10th century

  • Tibet :
    • Revival of Buddhism begins in Tibet.
  • China :
    • Between 971- 983, the first complete printing of Chinese Buddhist cannon takes place in this period under Song dynasty.
  • Korea :
    • In 991 CE, a copy of Chinese Buddhist cannon arrives in Korea.

11th century

  • Tibet :
    • Marpa, Konchog Gyalpo, Atisha arrive in Tibet and Kagyu-pa and sakya-pa School of Tibetan Buddhism is established.
  • Korea :
    • Begins carving its own woodblock print edition of the Buddhist canon.
  • Sri Lanka :
    • Theravada Scool of Buddhism is revived in Sri Lanka. Burma also adopts Theravada Buddhism.
  • India :
    • Buddhism declines in its birthplace, India.

12th century

  • China :
    • Buddhism is suppressed in China and Dao is promoted.
  • Japan :
    • Honen establishes Pure Land School of Buddhism in Japan. Eisai establishes the Rinzai Zen School of Japanese Buddhism.
  • India :
    • In India, the great Nalanda University is sacked.

13th century

  • Thailand :
    • Theravada overshadows Mahayana with Thai kingdom Sukhothai being established.
    • Theravada Buddhism is declared the state religion.
  • Japan :
    • Nichiren Daishonin is born who later establishes Nichiren Buddhism.
    • Dogen Zenji brings the Caodong school of Zen from China to Japan as the Soto sect.
    • Dogen Zenji establishes the Eiheiji Soto Zen Temple and Monastery
  • Cambodia and Sri Lanka :
    • Theravada Buddhism overshadows Mahayana Buddhism.

14th Century

  • Thailand :
    • U Thong establishes Ayutthaya as his capital and adopted the name of Ramthibodhi.
  • Tibet :
    • The first Dalai Lama of Tibet is born. Tsong-kha-pa begins Gelug tradition. Bu-ston collects and edits Tibetan Buddhist canons.

16th century

  • Tibet :
    • Altan Khan confers the title of the Dalai Lama for the first time ever in history on Sonam Gyatso, the third Dalai Lama..

17th century

  • Japan :
    • The Toyotomi family reconstructs a massive image of Buddha at the H?k?ji Temple in Ky?t?. Later, the Tokugawa Shogunate, a feudal military dictatorship of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu gains control of Japanese Buddhism.
  • Vietnam:
    • Divided during 1600 –1700s. The Nguyen rulers of the south backs Mahayana Buddhism.
  • Tibet :
    • Here, Oirat Mongols accepts Gelug-pa Buddhism. Also, Güüshi Khan of the Khoshuud gives the sovereignty of Tibet to the fifth Dalai Lama.

18th century

  • Thailand :
    • A number of Buddhist texts are destroyed when the Burmese attack Ayutthaya.

19th century

  • Thailand :
    • King Mongkut, a former monk, initiates a campaign to reform and modernise the monkhood. The campaign continues in the present century under several renowned sage monks.
  • Vietnam :
    • Buddhism faces extreme restrictions, first under Nguyen Anh(1802-20) and then under Minh Mang (1820-41).
  • Sri Lanka:
    • Buddhism Revival movement gains momentum. Since this time, Buddhism makes rapid progress in the country. It also becomes instrumental in spreading Buddhism to other countries.
  • Burma :
    • 5th Buddhist council convened in Mandalay in 1871. Pali cannon was re-edited and engraved on 729 stones under King Mindon Min of Burma. These were then set up on the grounds of a monastery in Mandalay.
    • In 1899, Gordon Douglas becomes the first person from the west to be ordained in the Theravada tradition. He is ordained in Burma.
  • China :
    • Jade Buddha temple established in Shanghai. The Jade Buddha statue installed here were brought from Burma.
  • West :
    • In 1893, Anagarika Dharmapala and Soyen Shaku attend attend The World Parliament of Religions meets in Chicago, Illinois 
  • Nepal :
    • Stone pillar of Ashoka is excavated in Lumbini in 1896

20th century

  • West :
    • First Soto Zen temple is founded in North America in 1922.
    • In1956, the Zen Studies Society is established in New York in order to support D.T. Suzuki.
    • In 1962, the San Francisco Zen Center comes up with the effort of Shunryu Suzuki.
    • In 1974, the Naropa Institute, which is now known as Naropa University, is founded in Boulder, Colorado.
  • India :
    • In 1956, an Indian leader of repute, who was also an untouchable, adopts Buddhism along with more than 350,000 followers. This gives marks the beginning of the modern Neo-Buddhist movement in the country.
    • In 1996, the Buddhist nun order is revived in Sarnath with the efforts of an International Buddhist Women Association.
  • Tibet :
    • Chinese forces occupy Tibet forcing the 14th Dalai Lama and his followers to flee to India. Buddhist monasteries in Tibet are destroyed and Buddhist practitioners punished.
  • Sri Lanka :
    • World Fellowship of Buddhists is established in Colombo in the year 1950.
    • In 1966, World Buddhist Council is convened.

21st century

  • Malaysia :
    • The Sasanarakkha Buddhist Sanctuary is established as a training facility for Theravada monks.