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Theravāda (;
Pāli Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the ''Pāli Canon'' or ''Tripiṭaka, Tipiṭaka'' as well as the sacred language ...
, lit. "School of the
Elders An elder is someone with a degree of seniority or authority. Elder or elders may refer to: Positions Administrative * Elder (administrative title), a position of authority Cultural * American Indian elder, a person who has and transmits cul ...
", borrowed from Sanskrit स्थविरवाद (sthaviravāda, literally “doctrine of the elders”) is the most commonly accepted name of
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
's oldest existing school. The school's adherents, termed Theravādins, have preserved their version of
Gautama Buddha Gautama Buddha, popularly known as the Buddha (also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama or Buddha Shakyamuni), was an , a religious leader and teacher who lived in (c. 6th to 5th century BCE or c. 5th to 4th century BCE). He ...

Gautama Buddha
's teaching or '' Buddha Dhamma'' in the
Pāli Canon The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scripture Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred Sacred describes something ...
for over a millennium. The Pāli Canon is the most complete Buddhist canon surviving in a classical Indian language,
Pāli Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the ''Pāli Canon'' or ''Tripiṭaka, Tipiṭaka'' as well as the sacred language ...
, which serves as the school's
sacred language A sacred language, holy language or liturgical language is any language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Ital ...
and
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'disco ...
.Crosby, Kate (2013), ''Theravada Buddhism: Continuity, Diversity, and Identity'', p. 2. In contrast to
Mahāyāna Mahāyāna (; "Great Vehicle") is a term for a broad group of Buddhist traditions, texts, philosophies Philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, ...
and
Vajrayāna and bell A bell is a struck idiophone, directly struck idiophone percussion instrument. Most bells have the shape of a hollow cup that when struck vibrates in a single strong strike tone, with its sides forming an efficient resonator. The str ...
, Theravāda tends to be conservative in matters of doctrine (''
pariyatti ''Pariyatti'' is a Pāli Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language A sacred language, "holy language" (in religious context) or liturgical language is any language A language is a structured system of communication used b ...
'') and monastic discipline (''
vinaya The Vinaya (Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the ''Pāli Canon The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scripture ...

vinaya
''). One element of this conservatism is the fact that Theravāda rejects the authenticity of the
Mahayana sutras The Mahāyāna Sūtras are a broad genre of Buddhism, Buddhist sutra scriptures that are accepted as wikt:canon, canonical and as Buddhist texts, ''buddhavacana'' ("Buddha word") in Mahayana, Mahāyāna Buddhism. They are largely preserved in the ...
(which appeared c. 1st century BCE onwards). Modern Theravāda derives from the Mahāvihāra order, a Sri Lankan branch of the Vibhajjavāda tradition, who are in turn a sect of the Indian Sthavira Nikaya. This tradition began to establish itself in Sri Lanka from the 3rd century BCE onwards. It was in Sri Lanka that the
Pāli Canon The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scripture Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred Sacred describes something ...
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. It is the dominant religion in
Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is in area, bordered by Thailand to Cambodia–T ...

Cambodia
,
Laos , national_anthem = "Pheng Xat Lao "Pheng Sat Lāo" () is the national anthem A national anthem is a song that officially symbolizes a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often r ...

Laos
,
Myanmar Myanmar, ); UK pronunciations: US pronunciations incl. . Note: Wikipedia's IPA conventions require indicating /r/ even in British English although only some British English speakers pronounce r at the end of syllables. As John C. Wells, John ...

Myanmar
,
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is ...

Sri Lanka
, and
Thailand Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia. It is located at the centre of the Mainland Southeast Asia, Indochinese Peninsula, spanning , wi ...

Thailand
and is practiced by minorities in
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
,
Bangladesh Bangladesh (, bn, বাংলাদেশ, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-c ...

Bangladesh
, China,
Nepal Nepal (; ne, नेपाल ), officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal ( ne, सङ्घीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र नेपाल ), is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is ma ...

Nepal
, and
Vietnam Vietnam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,, group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the ...

Vietnam
. The
diaspora A diaspora ( ) is a scattered population whose origin Origin(s) or The Origin may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Comics and manga * , a Wolverine comic book mini-series published by Marvel Comics in 2002 * , a 1999 ''Buffy th ...

diaspora
of all of these groups, as well as converts around the world, also embrace and practice Theravāda Buddhism. During the modern era, new developments have included
Buddhist modernism Buddhist modernism (also referred to as modern Buddhism, Buddhism, Neo-Buddhism and Neoyana) are new movements based on modern era reinterpretations of Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a so ...
, the
Vipassana movement The Vipassanā movement, also called (in the USA) the Insight Meditation Movement and American vipassana movement, refers to a branch of modern Burmese Theravāda Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world ...
which reinvigorated Theravāda meditation practice, the growth of the
Thai Forest Tradition The Kammaṭṭhāna Forest Tradition of Thailand (from pi, kammaṭṭhāna meaning "place of work"), commonly known in the West as the Thai Forest Tradition, is a lineage of Theravada Theravāda (; Pāli Pali () is a Middle ...
which reemphasized forest monasticism and the spread of Theravāda westward to places such as
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
and
Nepal Nepal (; ne, नेपाल ), officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal ( ne, सङ्घीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र नेपाल ), is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is ma ...

Nepal
, along with Buddhist immigrants and converts in the European Union and the United States.


History


Pre-Modern

The Theravāda school descends from the Vibhajjavāda, a division within the Sthāvira nikāya, one of the two major orders that arose after the first schism in the Indian Buddhist community.Cousins, Lance (2001). '
On the Vibhajjavādins"
', Buddhist Studies Review 18 (2), 131–182.
Theravāda sources trace their tradition to the Third Buddhist council, when elder
Moggaliputta-Tissa Moggaliputtatissa (ca. 327–247 BCE), was a Buddhist monk and scholar who was born in Pataliputra, Magadha Magadha was an ancient Indian kingdom in southern Bihar Bihar (; ) is a states and union territories of India, state i ...
is said to have compiled the '' Kathavatthu'', an important work which lays out the Vibhajjavāda doctrinal position.Berkwitz, Stephen C. (2012). ''South Asian Buddhism: A Survey'', Routledge, pp. 44-45. Aided by patronage of Mauryan kings like
Ashoka Ashoka (; Brāhmi: 𑀅𑀲𑁄𑀓, ''Asoka'', IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit ...

Ashoka
, this school spread throughout India and reached
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is ...

Sri Lanka
through the efforts of missionary monks like Mahinda. In Sri Lanka, it became known as the Tambapaṇṇiya (and later as Mahāvihāravāsins) which was based at the Great Vihara (Mahavihara) in
Anuradhapura Anuradhapura ( si, අනුරාධපුරය, translit=Anurādhapuraya; ta, அனுராதபுரம், translit=Aṉurātapuram) is a major city in Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා, Śrī Laṅkā, t ...

Anuradhapura
(the ancient Sri Lankan capital). According to Theravāda sources, another one of the Ashokan missions was also sent to ("The Golden Land"), which may refer to Southeast Asia. By the first century BCE, Theravāda Buddhism was well established in the main settlements of the
Kingdom of Anuradhapura The Anuradhapura Kingdom (Sinhala language, Sinhala: , translit: Anurādhapura Rājadhāniya, Tamil language, Tamil: ), named for Anuradhapura, its capital city, was the first established monarchy, kingdom in ancient Sri Lanka and Sinhalese p ...

Kingdom of Anuradhapura
. The Pali Canon, which contains the main scriptures of the Theravāda, was committed to writing in the first century BCE. Throughout the history of ancient and medieval Sri Lanka, Theravāda was the main religion of the
Sinhalese people Sinhalese people ( si, සිංහල ජනතාව, Sinhala Janathāva) are an Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking t ...
and its temples and monasteries were patronized by the
Sri Lankan kings The Sinhalese monarch -- anachronistically referred to as the Kings of Sri Lanka -- featured the heads of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state Foakes, pp. 110–11 " he head o ...
, who saw themselves as the protectors of the religion. Over time, two other sects split off from the Mahāvihāra tradition, the Abhayagiri and
Jetavana Jetavana () was one of the most famous of the Buddhist monasteries or viharas in India (present-day Uttar Pradesh Uttar Pradesh (; 'Northern Province') is a state in northern India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India ...
.Warder, A.K. ''Indian Buddhism''. 2000. p. 280. While the Abhayagiri sect became known for the syncretic study of
Mahayana Mahāyāna (; "Great Vehicle") is a term for a broad group of Buddhism, Buddhist traditions, Buddhist texts#Mahāyāna texts, texts, Buddhist philosophy, philosophies, and practices. Mahāyāna Buddhism developed in India (c. 1st century BCE on ...
and
Vajrayana Vajrayāna (Sanskrit: "thunderbolt vehicle" or "diamond vehicle") along with Mantrayāna, Guhyamantrayāna, Tantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Tantric Buddhism, and Esoteric Buddhism are names referring to Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world ...
texts as well as the Theravāda canon, the Mahāvihāra tradition did not accept these new created scriptures. Instead, Mahāvihāra scholars like
Buddhaghosa Buddhaghosa was a 5th-century Indian Theravada Buddhist Theravāda (; Pāli, lit. "School of the Elders") is the most commonly accepted name of Buddhism's oldest existing school. The school's adherents, termed Theravādins, have preserved t ...
focused on the exegesis of the Pali scriptures and on the
Abhidhamma Abhidharma (Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia aft ...
. These Theravāda sub-sects often came into conflict with each other over royal patronage. The reign of Parākramabāhu I (1153–1186) saw an extensive reform of the Sri Lankan sangha after years of warfare on the island. Parākramabāhu created a single unified sangha which came to be dominated by the Mahāvihāra sect. Epigraphical evidence has established that Theravāda Buddhism became a dominant religion in the Southeast Asian kingdoms of
Sri Ksetra Sri Ksetra (, my, သရေခေတ္တရာ ပြည်, ; lit. "Field of Fortune"Htin Aung, Maung (1970). ''Burmese History before 1287: A Defence of the Chronicles.'' Oxford: The Asoka Society, 8 - 10. or "Field of Glory"), located along ...
and
Dvaravati The Dvaravati ( th, ทวารวดี ) period lasted from around the 6th to the 11th century. Dvaravati refers to a culture, an art style, and a disparate conglomeration of principalities of Mon people. Archaeological research over the past t ...
from about the 5th century CE onwards. The oldest surviving Buddhist texts in the Pāli language are gold plates found at Sri Ksetra dated circa 5th to 6th century. Before the Theravāda tradition became the dominant religion in Southeast Asia, Mahāyāna, Vajrayana and Hinduism were also prominent. Starting at around the 11th century, Sinhalese Theravāda monks and Southeast Asian elites led a widespread conversion of most of mainland Southeast Asia to the Theravādin
Mahavihara Mahavihara () is the Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European lan ...
school. The patronage of monarchs such as the Burmese king
Anawrahta Anawrahta Minsaw ( my, အနော်ရထာ မင်းစော, ; 11 May 1014 – 11 April 1077) was the founder of the Pagan Empire The Kingdom of Pagan ( my, ပုဂံခေတ်, , lit. "Pagan Period"; also commonly know ...

Anawrahta
(Pali: Aniruddha, 1044–1077) and the Thai king
Ram Khamhaeng Ram Khamhaeng ( th, รามคำแหง, ) or Pho Khun Ram Khamhaeng Maharat ( th, พ่อขุนรามคำแหงมหาราช, ), also spelled Ramkhamhaeng, was the third king of the List of monarchs of Thailand#Phra Ruang D ...
(
floruit ''Floruit'' (), abbreviated fl. (or occasionally flor.), Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communic ...
. late 13th century) was instrumental in the rise of Theravāda Buddhism as the predominant religion of Burma and Thailand.Yoneo Ishii (1986). ''Sangha, State, and Society: Thai Buddhism in History'', p. 60. University of Hawaii Press. Burmese and Thai kings saw themselves as Dhamma Kings and as protectors of the Theravāda faith. They promoted the building of new temples, patronized scholarship, monastic ordinations and missionary works as well as attempted to eliminate certain non-Buddhist practices like animal sacrifices.Harvey (1925), pp. 172–173. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Theravāda also became established as the state religion in Cambodia and Laos. In Cambodia, numerous Hindu and Mahayana temples, most famously
Angkor Wat Angkor Wat (; km, អង្គរវត្ត "Temple city/city of temples") is the largest religious structure (temple complex) in the world by land area, measuring , located in Cambodia. Originally constructed as a personal mausoleum for ...

Angkor Wat
and
Angkor Thom Angkor Thom ( km, អង្គរធំ ; literally: "Great City"), (alternative name: Nokor Thom, ) located in present-day Cambodia, was the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer empire, Khmer Empire. It was established in the late twe ...

Angkor Thom
, were transformed into Theravādin monasteries.


Modern history

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Theravāda Buddhists came into direct contact with western ideologies, religions and modern science. The various responses to this encounter have been called "
Buddhist modernism Buddhist modernism (also referred to as modern Buddhism, Buddhism, Neo-Buddhism and Neoyana) are new movements based on modern era reinterpretations of Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a so ...
". In the British colonies of
Ceylon Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO; ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island ...
(modern Sri Lanka) and
Burma Myanmar (; my, မြန်မာ ) or Burma ( my, ဗမာ ), officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, is a country in Southeast Asia. Myanmar is bordered by Bangladesh and India to its northwest, China to its northeast, Laos a ...
(Myanmar), Buddhist institutions lost their traditional role as the prime providers of education (a role that was often filled by Christian schools). In response to this, Buddhist organizations were founded which sought to preserve Buddhist scholarship and provide a Buddhist education. Anagarika Dhammapala,
Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera or Mohottiwatte Gunananda Thera ( Sinhala: පූජ්‍ය මිගෙට්ටුවත්තේ ගුණානන්ද හිමි) (9 February 1823, Balapitiya – 21 September 1890, Colombo ...
,
Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thera Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thera ( si, හික්කඩුවේ ශ්‍රි සුමංගල නාහිමි; 20 January 1827 – 29 April 1911) was a Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා, Śrī Laṅkā, tran ...

Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thera
and
Henry Steel Olcott Colonel Colonel (; abbreviated as Col., Col or COL) is a senior military Officer (armed forces), officer rank used in many countries. It is also used in some police forces and paramilitary organizations. Historically, in the 17th, 18th and 19t ...

Henry Steel Olcott
(one of the first American western converts to Buddhism) were some of the main figures of the Sri Lankan Buddhist revival. Two new monastic orders were formed in the 19th century, the Amarapura Nikāya and the Rāmañña Nikāya. In Burma, an influential modernist figure was king
Mindon Min Mindon Min ( my, မင်းတုန်းမင်း, ; 1808 – 1878), born Maung Lwin, was the penultimate King of Burma This is a list of the monarchs of Burma (Myanmar), covering the monarchs of all the major kingdoms that existed ...
(1808–1878), known for his patronage of the Fifth Buddhist council (1871) and the Tripiṭaka tablets at Kuthodaw Pagoda (still the world's largest book) with the intention of preserving the Buddha Dhamma. Burma also saw the growth of the "
Vipassana movement The Vipassanā movement, also called (in the USA) the Insight Meditation Movement and American vipassana movement, refers to a branch of modern Burmese Theravāda Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world ...
", which focused on reviving Buddhist meditation and doctrinal learning.
Ledi Sayadaw Ledi Sayadaw U Ñaṇadhaja ( my, လယ်တီဆရာတော် ဦးဉာဏဓဇ, ; 1 December 1846 – 27 June 1923) was an influential Theravada Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a ...
(1846–1923) was one of the key figures in this movement. After independence, Myanmar held the
Sixth Buddhist council The Sixth Buddhist Council ( pi, छट्ठ सॅगायना (); my, ဆဋ္ဌမသင်္ဂါယနာ; si, ඡට්ඨ සංගායනා) was a general council of Theravada Buddhism, held in a specially built cave and pa ...
(
Vesak Vesak (Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invasion ...
1954 to Vesak 1956) to create a new redaction of the
Pāli Canon The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scripture Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred Sacred describes something ...
, which was then published by the government in 40 volumes. The Vipassana movement continued to grow after independence, becoming an international movement with centers around the world. Influential meditation teachers of the post-independence era include U Narada,
Mahasi Sayadaw Mahāsī Sayādaw U Sobhana ( my, မဟာစည်ဆရာတော် ဦးသောဘန, ; 29 July 1904 – 14 August 1982) was a Burmese Theravada Theravāda (; Pāli, lit. "School of the Elders") is the most commonly accepted na ...

Mahasi Sayadaw
,
Sayadaw U Pandita Sayadaw U Pandita ( my, ဆရာတော် ဦးပဏ္ဍိတ, ; also ; 28 July 1921 – 16 April 2016) was one of the foremost masters of Vipassanā. He trained in the Theravada, Theravada Buddhist tradition of Myanmar. A successor to ...
,
Nyanaponika Thera Nyanaponika Thera or Nyanaponika Mahathera (July 21, 1901 – 19 October 1994) was a German-born Sri-Lanka-ordained Theravada Theravāda (; Pāli, lit. "School of the Elders") is the most commonly accepted name of Buddhism's oldest exist ...
,
Webu Sayadaw Webu Sayadaw ( my, ဝေဘူ ဆရာတော်, ; 17 February 1896 – 26 June 1977) was a Theravada Buddhism, Buddhist Bhikkhu, monk, and vipassanā master, best known for giving all importance to diligent practice, rather than scho ...
, U Ba Khin and his student S.N. Goenka. Meanwhile, in Thailand (the only Theravāda nation to retain its independence throughout the colonial era), the religion became much more centralized, and controlled by the state after a series of reforms promoted by Thai kings of the . King
Mongkut Mongkut ( th, มงกุฏ; 18 October 18041 October 1868) was the fourth Monarchy of Thailand, monarch of Rattanakosin Kingdom, Siam (Thailand) under the House of Chakri, ruling from 1851 to 1868. His full title in Thai is ''Phra Bat Somdet ...
(r. 1851–1868) and his successor
Chulalongkorn Chulalongkorn ( th, จุฬาลงกรณ์, 20 September 1853 – 23 October 1910) was the fifth monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or ...

Chulalongkorn
(1868–1910) were especially involved in centralizing sangha reforms. Under these kings, the sangha was organized into a hierarchical bureaucracy led by the Sangha Council of Elders (
Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invasion theory (disambiguat ...
: ''Mahāthera Samāgama''), the highest body of the Thai sangha.Yoneo Ishii (1986). ''Sangha, State, and Society: Thai Buddhism in History'', p. 69. University of Hawaii Press. Mongkut also led the creation of a new monastic order, the Dhammayuttika Nikaya, which kept a stricter monastic discipline than the rest of the Thai sangha (this included not using money , not storing up food and not taking milk in the evening).Patit Paban Mishra (2010). ''The History of Thailand,'' p. 77. Greenwood History of Modern Nations Series. The Dhammayuttika movement was characterized by an emphasis on the original Pali Canon and a rejection of Thai folk beliefs which were seen as irrational.Yoneo Ishii (1986). ''Sangha, State, and Society: Thai Buddhism in History'', p. 156. University of Hawaii Press. Under the leadership of Prince Wachirayan Warorot, a new education and examination system was introduced for Thai monks.Yoneo Ishii (1986). ''Sangha, State, and Society: Thai Buddhism in History'', p. 76. University of Hawaii Press. The 20th century also saw the growth of "forest traditions" which focused on forest living and strict monastic discipline. The main forest movements of this era are the Sri Lankan Forest Tradition and the
Thai Forest Tradition The Kammaṭṭhāna Forest Tradition of Thailand (from pi, kammaṭṭhāna meaning "place of work"), commonly known in the West as the Thai Forest Tradition, is a lineage of Theravada Theravāda (; Pāli Pali () is a Middle ...
, founded by
Ajahn Mun (หลวงปู่มั่น)Ajahn Mun ( th, อาจารย์มั่น) , dharma_names = Bhuridatto , birth_date = , birth_place = Ban Khambong, Khong Chiam, Ubon Ratchathani :''Ubon Ratchathani is both a city and a province in Th ...
(1870–1949) and his students. Theravāda Buddhism in Cambodia and Laos went through similar experiences in the modern era. Both had to endure french colonialism, destructive civil wars and oppressive communist governments. Under French Rule, French indologists of the
École française d'Extrême-Orient The French School of the Far East (french: École française d'Extrême-Orient, ), abbreviated EFEO, is an associated college of PSL University dedicated to the study of Asian societies. It was founded in 1900 with headquarters in Hanoi , ...
became involved in the reform of Buddhism, setting up institutions for the training of Cambodian and Lao monks, such as the Ecole de Pali which was founded in Phnom Penh in 1914''.'' While the Khmer Rouge effectively destroyed Cambodia's Buddhist institutions, after the end of the communist regime the Cambodian Sangha was re-established by monks who had returned from exile.Harris, Ian (August 2001), ''"Sangha Groupings in Cambodia",'' Buddhist Studies Review, UK Association for Buddhist Studies, 18 (I): 73–106. In contrast, communist rule in Laos was less destructive since the
Pathet Lao The Pathet Lao ( lo, ປະເທດລາວ , national_anthem = "Pheng Xat Lao") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Vientiane , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , official_languages = Lao language, Lao , recogni ...
sought to make use of the sangha for political ends by imposing direct state control. During the late 1980s and 1990s, the official attitudes towards Buddhism began to liberalise in Laos and there was a resurgence of traditional Buddhist activity such as merit making and doctrinal study. The modern era also saw the spread of Theravāda Buddhism around the world and the revival of the religion in places where it remains a minority faith. Some of the major events of the spread of modern Theravāda include: *The 20th century Nepalese Theravāda movement which introduced Theravāda Buddhism to
Nepal Nepal (; ne, नेपाल ), officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal ( ne, सङ्घीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र नेपाल ), is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is ma ...

Nepal
and was led by prominent figures such as
Dharmaditya Dharmacharya Dharmaditya Dharmacharya (Devanagari: धर्मादित्य धर्माचार्य) (born Jagat Man Vaidya) (1902–1963) was a Nepalese author, Buddhist scholar and language activist. He worked to develop Nepal Bhasa and revive T ...
, Mahapragya, Pragyananda and Dhammalok Mahasthavir. *The establishment of some of the first Theravāda Viharas in the Western world, such as the
London Buddhist Vihara The London Buddhist Vihara ( Sinhala:ලන්ඩන් බෞද්ධ විහාරය) is one of the main Theravada Theravāda (; Pāli, lit. "School of the Elders") is the most commonly accepted name of Buddhism's oldest existing scho ...
(1926),
Das Buddhistische Haus Das Buddhistische Haus (English: Berlin Buddhist Vihara, literally ''the Buddhist house'') is a Theravada Theravāda (; Pāli, lit. "School of the Elders") is the most commonly accepted name of Buddhism's oldest existing school. The school's ...
in Berlin (1957) and the Washington Buddhist Vihara in Washington, DC (1965). *The founding of the
Bengal Buddhist AssociationBengal Buddhist Association ( bn, বৌদ্ধ ধর্মাঙ্কুর সভা, Bauddha Dharmankur Sabha) is a Buddhist organisation based in Kolkata Kolkata ( or , ; also known as Calcutta , List of renamed Indian cities and stat ...
(1892) and the Dharmankur Vihar (1900) in
Calcutta Kolkata ( or , ; also known as Calcutta , the official name until 2001) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger upperca ...
by the Bengali monk
Kripasaran Venerable Kripasaran Mahathera was a 19th and 20th century Bengali Buddhist monk and Indian yogi, best known for reviving Buddhism in British India The provinces of India, earlier presidencies of British India and still earlier, presidency ...
Mahasthavir, which were key events in the Bengali Theravāda revival. *The founding of the
Maha Bodhi Society The Maha Bodhi Society is a South Asian Buddhism, Buddhist society presently based in Kolkata, India. Founded by the Sri Lankan Buddhist leader Anagarika Dharmapala and the British journalist and poet Sir Edwin Arnold, its first office was in Bodh ...
in 1891 by
Anagarika Dharmapala Anagarika, Anagārika Dharmapāla (Pali: ''Anagārika'', ; Sinhalese: Anagarika, lit., si, :si:අනගාරික, අනගාරික ධර්මපාල; 17 September 1864 – 29 April 1933) was a Sri Lankan Buddhist revivalist and a wri ...

Anagarika Dharmapala
which focused on the conservation and restoration of important Indian Buddhist sites, such as
Bodh Gaya Bodh Gaya is a religious site and place of pilgrimage associated with the Mahabodhi Temple The Mahabodhi Temple (literally: "Great Awakening Temple") or the Mahabodhi Mahavihar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an ancient, but much rebuilt an ...

Bodh Gaya
and
Sarnath Sarnath (Hindustani pronunciation: aːɾnaːtʰ is a place located 10 kilometres north-east of Varanasi Varanasi (; ), officially so revived after 1947, but still widely known as Banaras or Benares (; ), and in ancient times as ...

Sarnath
.Jerryson, Michael K. (ed.) ''The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Buddhism'', p. 41. *The introduction of Theravāda to other Southeast Asian nations like Singapore,
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...

Indonesia
and
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Malaysia
. Especially with Ven. K. Sri Dhammananda missionary efforts among English-speaking Chinese communities. *The return of Western Theravādin monks trained in the Thai Forest Tradition to western countries and the subsequent founding of monasteries led by western monastics, such as
Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery Abhayagiri, or Fearless Mountain in the canonical language of Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the '' Pāli Canon'' or '' Ti ...
,
Chithurst Buddhist Monastery ''Cittaviveka'' (Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the '' Pāli Canon'' or '' Tipiṭaka'' and is the sacred language of '' Th ...
, Metta Forest Monastery,
Amaravati Buddhist Monastery Amaravati is a Theravada Buddhist monastery at the eastern end of the Chiltern Hills in South East England. Established in 1984 by Ajahn Sumedho as an extension of Chithurst Buddhist Monastery, the monastery has its roots in the Thai Forest Trad ...
,
Birken Forest Buddhist Monastery Birken Forest Buddhist Monastery, or Sītavana (Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the '' Pāli Canon'' or '' Tipiṭaka'' and is ...
, Bodhinyana Monastery and
Santacittarama Santacittarama is the name of the Italian Theravada Buddhist monastery in the Thai Forest Tradition lineage of Ajahn Chah located near Rome. In the spring of 1990 the Italian Bhikkhu Ajahn Thanavaro (later Mario Thanavaro) and then Anagarika John A ...
. *The spread of the
Vipassana movement The Vipassanā movement, also called (in the USA) the Insight Meditation Movement and American vipassana movement, refers to a branch of modern Burmese Theravāda Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world ...
around the world by the efforts of people like S.N. Goenka,
Anagarika Munindra 180px, Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya, India Anagarika Shri Munindra (1915 – October 14, 2003), also called Munindraji by his disciples, was an Indian Vipassanā meditation teacher, who taught many notable meditation teachers including Dipa Ma, ...
, Joseph Goldstein,
Jack Kornfield Jack Kornfield (born 1945) is a bestselling American author and teacher in the vipassana movement in American Theravada Theravāda (; Pāli, lit. "School of the Elders") is the most commonly accepted name of Buddhism's oldest existing scho ...

Jack Kornfield
,
Sharon Salzberg Sharon Salzberg (born August 5, 1952) is a ''New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''NYT'' or ''NY Times'') is an American daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership. Founded in 1851, the ''Times'' has since won Lis ...
,
Dipa Ma Nani Bala Barua (March 25, 1911 - September 1989), better known as Dipa Ma, was an Indian meditation teacher of Theravada Theravāda (; Pāli Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan supe ...
, and
Ruth DenisonRuth Denison (September 29, 1922 – February 26, 2015) was the first Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and pra ...
. *The Vietnamese Theravāda movement, led by figures such as Ven. Hộ-Tông (Vansarakkhita).


Texts


Pāli Tipiṭaka

According to Kate Crosby, for Theravāda, the Pāli Tipiṭaka, also known as 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)." The language of the Tipiṭaka,
Pāli Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the ''Pāli Canon'' or ''Tripiṭaka, Tipiṭaka'' as well as the sacred language ...
, is a middle-Indic language which is the main religious and scholarly language in Theravāda. This language may have evolved out of various Indian dialects, and is related to, but not the same as, the ancient language of
Magadha Magadha was a region and one of the sixteen sa, script=Latn, Mahajanapada The Mahājanapadas ( sa, great realm, from ''maha'', "great", and ''janapada'' "foothold of a people") were sixteen Realm, kingdoms or oligarchy, oligarchic republ ...

Magadha
. An early form of the Tipiṭaka may have been transmitted to
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is ...

Sri Lanka
during the reign of
Ashoka Ashoka (; Brāhmi: 𑀅𑀲𑁄𑀓, ''Asoka'', IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit ...

Ashoka
, which saw a period of Buddhist missionary activity. 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 1st century BCE. Theravāda is one of the first Buddhist schools to commit its Tipiṭaka to writing. The
recensionRecension is the practice of editing or revising a text based on critical analysis. When referring to manuscript A manuscript (abbreviated MS for singular and MSS for plural) was, traditionally, any document written by hand – or, once practic ...
of the Tipiṭaka which survives today is that of the Sri Lankan Mahavihara sect. The oldest manuscripts of the Tipiṭaka from Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia date to the 15th Century, and they are incomplete.Skilling, Peter. "Reflections on the Pali Literature of Siam". From Birch Bark to Digital Data: Recent Advances in Buddhist Manuscript Research: Papers Presented at the Conference Indic Buddhist Manuscripts: The State of the Field. Stanford, 15–19 June 2009, edited by Paul Harrison and Jens-Uwe Hartmann, 1st ed., Austrian Academy of Sciences Press, Wien, 2014, pp. 347–366. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1vw0q4q.25. Accessed 7 May 2020. Complete manuscripts of the four Nikayas are only available from the 17th Century onwards.Anālayo. "The Historical Value of the Pāli Discourses". Indo-Iranian Journal, vol. 55, no. 3, 2012, pp. 223–253. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/24665100. Accessed 7 May 2020. However, fragments of the Tipiṭaka have been found in inscriptions from Southeast Asia, the earliest of which have been dated to the 3rd or 4th century.Wynne, Alexander. ''Did the Buddha exist?'' JOCBS. 2019(16): 98–148. According to Alexander Wynne, "they agree almost exactly with extant Pāli manuscripts. This means that the Pāli Tipiṭaka has been transmitted with a high degree of accuracy for well over 1,500 years." There are numerous editions of the Tipiṭaka, some of the major modern editions include the
Pali Text Society The Pali Text Society is a text publication society A text publication society is a learned society which publishes (either as its sole function, or as a principal function) scholarly editions of old works of historical or literary interest, or arc ...
edition (published in roman script), the Burmese Sixth Council edition (in
Burmese script The Burmese script is the basis of the alphabets used for modern Burmese, Mon, Shan, Rakhine, Jingpho and Karen. Languages The Burmese script is an adaptation of the Pyu script, or Old Mon script and it is ultimately of South India ...

Burmese script
, 1954–56) and the Thai Tipiṭaka edited and published in
Thai script The Thai script ( th, อักษรไทย, ) is the abugida An abugida (, from : አቡጊዳ), sometimes known as alphasyllabary, neosyllabary or pseudo-alphabet, is a segmental in which consonant-vowel sequences are written as a ...
after the council held during the reign of
Rama VII Prajadhipok ( th, ประชาธิปก; RTGS: ''Prachathipok''; 8 November 1893 – 30 May 1941), reigning title Phra Pok Klao Chao Yu Hua, also Rama VII, was the seventh monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New Colleg ...

Rama VII
(1925–35). There is also a edition, published in
Phnom Penh Phnom Penh (; km, ភ្នំពេញ, ; lit. "Penh's Hill") is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals ...

Phnom Penh
(1931–69). The Pāli Tipitaka consists of three parts: the
Vinaya Pitaka The Vinaya (Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invasio ...
,
Sutta Pitaka Sutta may refer to: *Sutta Nipata The ' () is a Buddhist scripture, a Sutra, sutta collection in the Khuddaka Nikaya, part of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism. Sections The ''Sutta Nipāta'' is divided into five sections: Uraga Vagga ("The ...
and
Abhidhamma Pitaka Abhidharma (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. ...
. Of these, the Abhidhamma Pitaka is believed to be a later addition to the collection, its composition dating from around the 3rd century BCE onwards. The Pāli Abhidhamma was not recognized outside the Theravāda school. There are also some texts which were late additions that are included in the fifth Nikaya, the '' Khuddaka Nikāya'' ('Minor Collection'), such as the '' Paṭisambhidāmagga'' (possibly c. 3rd to 1st century BCE) and the '' Buddhavaṃsa'' (c. 1st and 2nd century BCE). The main parts of the
Sutta Pitaka Sutta may refer to: *Sutta Nipata The ' () is a Buddhist scripture, a Sutra, sutta collection in the Khuddaka Nikaya, part of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism. Sections The ''Sutta Nipāta'' is divided into five sections: Uraga Vagga ("The ...
and some portions of the
Vinaya The Vinaya (Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invasio ...

Vinaya
shows considerable overlap in content to the
Agamas Agama is a Sanskrit word which is a term for scriptures in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism: * Buddhist Āgamas, a collection of Early Buddhist Texts * Āgamas in Hinduism, a term for the scriptures of several Hindu Hindus (; ) are person ...
, the parallel collections used by non-Theravāda schools in India which are preserved in Chinese and partially in
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
,
Prakrit The Prakrits (; Early Brahmi 𑀧𑁆𑀭𑀸𑀓𑀾𑀢, ''prākṛta''; Devanagari Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, ...
, and
Tibetan Tibetan may mean: * of, from, or related to Tibet * Tibetan people, an ethnic group * Tibetan language: ** Classical Tibetan, the classical language used also as a contemporary written standard ** Standard Tibetan, the most widely used spoken dialec ...
, as well as the various non-Theravāda Vinayas. On this basis, these Early Buddhist texts (i.e. the Nikayas and parts of the Vinaya) are generally believed to be some of the oldest and most authoritative sources on the doctrines of pre-sectarian Buddhism by modern scholars. Much of the material in the earlier portions is not specifically "Theravādan", but the collection of teachings that this school's adherents preserved from the early, non-sectarian body of teachings. According to
Peter Harvey Peter Michael St Clair Harvey (16 September 19442 March 2013) was an Australian journalist and broadcaster. Harvey was a long-serving correspondent and contributor with the Nine Network from 1975 to 2013. Career Harvey studied his journalism ca ...
, while the Theravādans may have added texts to their Tipiṭaka (such as the Abhidhamma texts and so on), they generally did not tamper with the earlier material. The historically later parts of the canon, mainly the Abhidhamma and some parts of the Vinaya, contain some distinctive elements and teachings which are unique to the Theravāda school and often differ with the Abhidharmas or Vinayas of other
early Buddhist schools The early Buddhist schools are those schools into which the Buddhist monastic Monasticism (from Ancient Greek , , from , , 'alone'), or monkhood, is a religion, religious way of life in which one renounces world (theology), worldly pursuits t ...
. For example, while the Theravāda Vinaya contains a total of 227 monastic rules for
bhikkhu A ''bhikkhu'' (Pali: भिक्खु, Sanskrit: भिक्षु, ''bhikṣu'') is an ordained male monastic ("monk") in Buddhism. Male and female monastics ("nun", ''bhikkhunī'', Sanskrit ''bhikṣuṇī'') are members of the Sangha, Budd ...
s, the
Dharmaguptaka The Dharmaguptaka (Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; , , ) is a of that belongs to the branch of the . It arose in South Asia after its predecessor languages had there from the northwest in the late . Sanskrit is the of , the la ...
Vinaya (used in
East Asian Buddhism East Asian Buddhism or East Asian Mahayana is a collective term for the schools of Mahāyāna Buddhism Mahāyāna (; "Great Vehicle") is a term for a broad group of Buddhist traditions, texts, philosophies, and practices. Mahāyāna is cons ...
) has a total of 253 rules for bhikkhus (though the overall structure is the same). These differences arose from the systematization and historical development of doctrines and monasticism in the centuries after the death of the Buddha. The Abhidhamma-pitaka contains "a restatement of the doctrine of the Buddha in strictly formalized language." Its texts present a new method, the Abhidhamma method, which attempts to build a single consistent philosophical system (in contrast with the suttas, which present numerous teachings given by the Buddha to particular individuals according to their need). Because the Abhidhamma focuses on analyzing the internal lived experience of beings and the intentional structure of consciousness, it has often been compared to a kind of phenomenological
psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...

psychology
by numerous modern scholars such as
Nyanaponika Nyanaponika Thera or Nyanaponika Mahathera (July 21, 1901 – 19 October 1994) was a German-born Sri-Lanka-ordained Theravada monk, co-founder of the Buddhist Publication Society, contemporary author of numerous seminal Theravada books, and tea ...
,
Bhikkhu Bodhi Bhikkhu Bodhi (born December 10, 1944), born Jeffrey Block, is an American Theravada Theravāda (; Pali, Pāli, lit. "School of the Thero, Elders", borrowed from Sanskrit स्थविरवाद (sthaviravāda, literally “doctrine of the ...
and
Alexander Piatigorsky Alexander Moiseyevich Piatigorsky (russian: Алекса́ндр Моисе́евич Пятиго́рский; 30 January 1929, Moscow25 October 2009, London) was a Soviet dissident, Russian Philosophy, philosopher, scholar of Indian philosophy, ...
. The Theravāda school has traditionally held the doctrinal position that the canonical Abhidhamma Pitaka was actually taught by the Buddha himself. Modern scholarship in contrast, has generally held that the Abhidhamma texts date from the 3rd century BCE onwards. However some scholars, such as Frauwallner, also hold that the early Abhidhamma texts developed out of
exegetical Exegesis (; from the Ancient Greek, Greek from , "to lead out") is a critical explanation or interpretation (logic), interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Traditionally the term was used primarily for work with the Bible. In mode ...
and
catechetical Catechesis (; from Greek: , "instruction by word of mouth", generally "instruction") is basic Christian religious education In secular usage, religious education is the teaching of a particular religion (although in the United Kingdom the ter ...
work which made use of doctrinal lists which can be seen in the suttas, called ''matikas.''


Non-canonical literature

There are numerous Theravāda works which are important for the tradition even though they are not part of the Tipiṭaka. Perhaps the most important texts apart from the Tipiṭaka are the works of the influential scholar
Buddhaghosa Buddhaghosa was a 5th-century Indian Theravada Buddhist Theravāda (; Pāli, lit. "School of the Elders") is the most commonly accepted name of Buddhism's oldest existing school. The school's adherents, termed Theravādins, have preserved t ...
(4th–5th century CE), known for his Pāli commentaries (which were based on older Sri Lankan commentaries of the Mahavihara tradition). He is also the author of a very important compendium of Theravāda doctrine, the ''
Visuddhimagga The ''Visuddhimagga'' (Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the ''Pāli Canon The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of sc ...
''.Crosby, 2013, p. 86. Other figures like Dhammapala and Buddhadatta also wrote Theravāda commentaries and other works in Pali during the time of Buddhaghosa. While these texts do not have the same scriptural authority in Theravāda as the Tipiṭaka, they remain influential works for the
exegesis Exegesis (; from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is app ...
of the Tipiṭaka. An important genre of Theravādin literature is shorter handbooks and summaries, which serve as introductions and study guides for the larger commentaries. Two of the more influential summaries are Sariputta Thera's ''Pālimuttakavinayavinicchayasaṅgaha,'' a summary of Buddhaghosa's Vinaya commentary and Anuruddha's '' Abhidhammaṭṭhasaṅgaha'' (a "Manual of Abhidhamma").Crosby, 2013, 86. Throughout the history of Theravāda, Theravāda monks also produced other works of Pāli literature such as historical chronicles (like the '' Dipavamsa'' and the '' Mahavamsa''),
hagiographies A hagiography (; ) or vita (from Latin ''vita'', life, which begins the title of most medieval biographies) is a biography of a saint In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of Q-D-Š, holines ...
, poetry, Pāli grammars, and " sub-commentaries" (that is, commentaries on the commantries). While Pāli texts are symbolically and ritually important for many Theravādins, most people are likely to access Buddhist teachings though vernacular literature, oral teachings, sermons, art and performance as well as films and Internet media. According to Kate Crosby, "there is a far greater volume of Theravāda literature in vernacular languages than in Pāli." An important genre of Theravādin literature, in both Pāli and vernacular languages are the
Jataka tales The Jataka tales are a voluminous body of literature native to India concerning the previous births of Gautama Buddha in both human and animal form. The future Buddha may appear as a king, an outcast, a god, an elephant—but, in whatever form, ...
, 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. Most Theravāda Buddhists generally consider Mahāyāna Buddhist scriptures to be
apocrypha Apocrypha (Gr. ἀπόκρυφος, ‘the hidden hings) The biblical Books received by the early Church as part of the Greek version of the Old Testament, but not included in the Hebrew Bible, being excluded by the non-Hellenistic Jews fro ...
l, meaning that they are not authentic words of the Buddha.


Doctrine


Core teachings

The core of Theravāda Buddhist doctrine is contained in the Pāli Canon, the only complete collection of Early Buddhist Texts surviving in a classical
Indic language#REDIRECT Indo-Aryan languages *Access to Insight *Adhiṭṭhāna *Arahant *Awgatha *Buddha's Dispensation, Buddha Sasana *Buddhism in Southeast Asia *Buddhist pilgrimage *Cetiya *Mahanayaka *Sacca-kiriya *Sambuddhatva jayanthi *Sangharaja


Notes


References


Sources


Printed sources

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Web sources


External links


Access to Insight
– Readings in Theravāda Buddhism

by Jeffrey Samuels
What are the teachings of Theravada Buddhism?
on Tricycle's Buddhism for Beginners Series {{Authority control Theravada, Nikaya schools Early Buddhist schools Nāstika History of Buddhism in Asia