Buddhism in Myanmar
Buddhism in Myanmar is practiced by 90% of the country's population, is predominantly of the Theravada tradition. It is the most religious Buddhist country in terms of the proportion of monks in the population and proportion of income spent on religion. Adherents are most found among the dominant Bamar people, Rakhine, Karen, Zo, Chinese who are well integrated into Burmese society. Monks, collectively known as the sangha, are venerated members of Burmese society. Among many ethnic groups in Myanmar, including the Bamar and Shan, Theravada Buddhism is practised in conjunction with nat worship, which involves the placation of spirits who can intercede in worldly affairs. With regard to the daily routines of Buddhists in Myanmar, there are two most popular practices: merit-making and vipassanā; the weizza path is the least popular. Merit-making is the most common path undertaken by Burmese Buddhists; this path involves the observance of the Five precepts and accumulation of good merit through charity and good deeds to obtain a favourable rebirth.
The vipassana path, which has gained ground since the early 1900s, is a form of insight meditation believed to lead to enlightenment. The weizza path is an esoteric system of occult practices believed to lead to life as a weizza, a semi-immortal and supernatural being who awaits the appearance of the future Buddha, Maitreya. Buddhism is practiced by 90% of the country. According to Burmese census data dating back to 1891, between 84% to 90% of the population have practiced Buddhism; the history of Buddhism in Myanmar extends more than two thousand years. The Sāsana Vaṃsa, written by Pinyasami in 1834, summarises much of the history of Buddhism in Myanmar. According to the Mahavamsa, a Pali chronicle of fifth century Sri Lanka, Ashoka sent two bhikkhus and Uttara, to Suvarnabhumi around 228 BC with other monks and sacred texts, including books. An Andhra Ikshvaku inscription from about the 3rd century refers to the conversion of the Kiratas to Buddhism, who are thought to have been Tibeto-Burman-speaking peoples of Myanmar.
Early Chinese texts of about the same date speak of a "Kingdom of Liu-Yang," where all people worshiped the Buddha and there were several thousand samaṇas. This kingdom has been identified with a region somewhere in central Burma. A series of epigraphic records in Pali, Sanskrit and Mon datable to the 6th and 7th centuries, has been recovered from Central and Lower Burma. From the 11th to 13th centuries, the Bamar kings and queens of the Pagan Kingdom built countless stupas and temples; the Ari Buddhism era included the worship of nāgas. Theravada Buddhism was implanted at Bagan for the first time as early as the 11th century by the Bamar king Anawrahta. In year 1057, Anawratha sent an army to conquer the Mon city of Thaton to obtain theTipiṭāka of the Pāli Canon, he was converted by Shin Arahan, to Theravada Buddhism. Shin Arahan's advice led to acquiring thirty sets of Pali scriptures from the Mon king Manuha by force. Mon culture, from that point, came to be assimilated into the Bamar culture based in Bagan.
Despite attempts at reform, certain features of Ari Buddhism and traditional nat worship continued, such as reverence for the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara. Successive kings of Bagan continued to build large numbers of monuments and pagodas in honour of Buddhism, there is inscriptional evidence of a Theravadin vihara for bhikkhunis from 1279. Burmese rule at Bagan continued until the first Mongol invasion of Burma in 1287. Towards the end of the 13th century, Buddhism declined due to the invading Tatars. In the 14th century, another lineage was imported from Sri Lanka to Ayutthaya, the capital of the Thai Ayutthaya Kingdom. A new ordination line, that of the Thai Forest Tradition, thus entered Myanmar; the Shan, established themselves as rulers throughout the region now known as Myanmar. Thihathu, a Shan king, established rule in Bagan by patronising and building many monasteries and pagodas; the Mon kingdoms ruled by Shan chieftains, fostered Theravada Buddhism in the 14th century. Wareru, who became king of Mottama, patronised Buddhism, established a code of law, the Dhammasattha, compiled by Buddhist monastics.
King Dhammazedi a Mon bhikkhu, established rule in the late 15th century at Inwa and unified the sangha in Mon territories. He standardised ordination of monks set out in the Kalyani Inscriptions. Dhammazedi moved the capital back to Hanthawaddy, his mother-in-law, Queen Shin Sawbu, was a great patron of Buddhism. She is credited for giving her own weight in gold; the Bamars, who had fled to Taungoo before the invading Shan, established a kingdom there under the reigns of Tabinshwehti and Bayinnaung, who conquered and unified most of modern Myanmar. These monarchs embraced Mon culture and patronised Theravada Buddhism. In the reigns of succeeding kings, the Taungoo Dynasty became volatile and was overthrown by the Mon. In the mid-18th century, King Alaungpaya defeated the Mon, expanded the Bamar kingdoms, established the Konbaung Dynasty. Under the rule of Bodawpaya, a son of Alaungpaya, a unified sect of monks was created within the kingdom. Bodawpaya restored ties with Sri Lanka. During the reigns of the Konbaung kings that followed, both secular and religious literary works were created.
King Mindon Min moved his capital to Mandalay. After Lower Burma had been conquered by the British
Mahinda (Buddhist monk)
Mahinda was a Buddhist monk depicted in Buddhist sources as bringing Buddhism to Sri Lanka. He was the first-born son of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka from his wife Devi and the elder brother of Sanghamitra. Ashoka named his child Mahendra, bearing a militaristic Vedic title, yet Mahendra became a Buddhist monk due to his family's patronage, relinquishing his title as a prince. Mahinda was sent as a Buddhist missionary to the Anuradhapura Kingdom in Sri Lanka. Mahinda resided at Mihintale, he played an important role in proliferating Buddhism throughout the Indian subcontinent. The Dipavamsa and the Mahavamsa, Sri Lanka's two great religious chronicles, contain accounts of Mahinda travelling to Sri Lanka and converting King Devanampiyatissa; these are the primary sources for accounts of his life and deeds. Inscriptions and literary references establish that Buddhism became prevalent in Sri Lanka around the 3rd century BCE, the period when Mahinda lived; the inscription in Rajagala monastery confirm the fact that Thera Mahinda came to Sri Lanka to propagate Buddhism and lived there until his death.
Period: Circa 200 BC, Script: Early Brahmi, Language: Old SinhalaTranscript: Ye ima dipa paṭamaya idiya agatana Iḍika- hida-teraha tubeTranslation: "This is the stupa of the elder Ittiya and the elder Mahinda, who came to this Island by its foremost good fortune." The Mahavamsa says that Mahinda, the son of Ashoka, came to Sri Lanka and that Ashoka's daughter became a nun and brought the Bodhi Tree. But not only does Ashoka not mention them, but there aren't any sculptures or frescoes of them in the earliest period of Singhalese art; the historical accuracy of Mahinda converting the Sri Lankan king to Buddhism is debated. Professor Hermann Oldenberg, a German scholar of Indology who has published studies on the Buddha and translated many Pali texts, considers this story to be inaccurate. V. A. Smith believes a similar idea. V. A. Smith and Professor Hermann came to this conclusion due to Ashoka not mentioning the handing over of his son, Mahinda, to the temple to become a Buddhist missionary and Mahinda's role in converting the Sri Lankan king to Buddhism, in his 13th year Rock Edicts Rock-Edict XIII.
There is an inconsistency with the year on which Ashoka sent Buddhist missionaries to Sri Lanka. According to the Mahavamsa the missionaries arrived in 255 BCE, but according to Ashoka's Rock-Edict XIII it was 5 years earlier in 260 BCE. Mahinda grew up at Vidisha, the residence of his mother and became a monk at the age of 20 with Moggaliputta-Tissa, his father's spiritual teacher, guiding him and was well-versed with the Tripitaka. Mahinda together with fellow monks Itthiya, Sambala and Saamanera Sumana were sent to Sri Lanka to spread Buddhism, following the Third Buddhist Council, upon the recommendation of Moggaliputta-Tissa, he was accompanied by a lay disciple Bhankuka, a maternal grandson of his aunt. Though Ashoka wanted his prodigal eldest son Mahendra to succeed him and made several attempts to bring him out of renunciation, due to the orthodox Hindu community's refusal to accept a Buddhist Crown Prince from a Vaishya mother as well as Majhendra's own lack of enthusiasm to take over an empire, he gave up.
Though texts describe Mahendra's motive in leaving for Sri Lanka as spiritual, historians have argued that it was more of a political motive. Ashoka had feared that Mahendra would be killed just like Sushima, so to keep him safe and to avoid any succession war, he sent him to Sri Lanka; the party left from Vedasagiri vihara, believed to be modern day Sanchi. Mahavamsa and Dipavamsa, the chronicles of Sri Lanka, record the arrival of the party on the full moon of Jettha, a national festival. At the time, King Devanampiyatissa was participating in a hunting expedition in the Mihintale hills, it is said that Ashoka and Devanampiyatissa were acquainted and on good terms, having exchanged royal gifts upon their respective ascensions to the throne. Upon meeting the shaven-headed monks Devanampiyatissa was taken aback by their appearance and asked who they were. After exchanging greetings, Mahinda preached the Chulahatthipadopama Sutra, the royal hunting party converted to Buddhism; the party was subsequently invited to Anuradhapura, the seat of the throne for a royal reception and to give further dharma talks.
Mahinda subsequently gave two public talks sanctioned by Devanampiyatissa, in the Royal Hall and in the Nandana garden in the Royal Park, leading to the start of the public embrace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The royal park Mahamegha was set aside as the residence for Mahinda's party, in times became the Mahavihara, the earliest centre of Buddhist culture and scholarship Sri Lanka; the Chetiyagirivihara monastery was established in Mihintale. Mahinda sent for his sister Sanghamitta from Magadha, a nun, to start a female Buddhist order after local women had expressed a desire to join the Sangha. Mahinda arranged for a bodhi sapling from the original tree in Bodh Gaya to be sent to Sri Lanka, where it was planted in the grounds of the Mahavihara and is still visible today. After a month spent delivering discourses to Sri Lankans who had ventured to the capital, Mahinda retreated to Mihintale to spend the vassa during the monsoon season; as a result, a second royal funded monastery was built there.
Mahinda organised for a stupa to be constructed, a part of the bodily relics of Gautama Buddha were transferred from the Maurya Empire to Sri Lanka. Mahinda had Arittha, Devanampiyatissa's nephew, a bhikkhu, expound the Vinaya monastic code of discipline to further Buddhism in Sri La
History of Buddhism in India
Buddhism is a world religion, which arose in and around the ancient Kingdom of Magadha, is based on the teachings of Siddhārtha Gautama, deemed a "Buddha". Buddhism spread outside of Magadha starting in the Buddha's lifetime. With the reign of the Buddhist Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, the Buddhist community split into two branches: the Mahāsāṃghika and the Sthaviravāda, each of which spread throughout India and split into numerous sub-sects. In modern times, two major branches of Buddhism exist: the Theravāda in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, the Mahāyāna throughout the Himalayas and East Asia; the practice of Buddhism as a distinct and organized religion lost influence after the Gupta reign, declined from the land of its origin in around 13th century, but not without leaving a significant impact. Except for Himalayan region and south India, Buddhism became extinct in India after the arrival of Islam in late 12th century. Buddhism is still practiced in the Himalayan areas such as Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, the Darjeeling hills in West Bengal, the Lahaul and Spiti areas of upper Himachal Pradesh.
According to the 2011 census, Buddhists make up 0.7% of India's population, or 8.4 million individuals. Traditional Buddhists are 13% and Navayana Buddhists comprise more than 87% of Indian Buddhist community according to 2011 Census of India. Buddha was born in Nepal, to a Kapilvastu head of the Shakya republic named Suddhodana, he employed sramana practices in a specific way, denouncing extreme asceticism and sole concentration-meditation, which were sramanic practices. Instead he propagated a Middle Way between the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification, in which self-restraint and compassion are central elements. According to tradition, as recorded in the Pali Canon and the Agamas, Siddhārtha Gautama attained awakening sitting under a pipal tree, now known as the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India. Gautama referred to himself as the tathagata, the "thus-gone". According to tradition, he found patronage in the ruler of emperor Bimbisāra; the emperor accepted Buddhism as personal faith and allowed the establishment of many Buddhist "Vihāras."
This led to the renaming of the entire region as Bihar. According to tradition, in the Deer Park in Sarnath near Vārāṇasī in northern India, Buddha set in motion the Wheel of Dharma by delivering his first sermon to the group of five companions with whom he had sought liberation. They, together with the Buddha, formed the first Saṅgha, the company of Buddhist monks, hence, the first formation of Triple Gem was completed. For the remaining years of his life, the Buddha is said to have travelled in the Gangetic Plain of Northern India and other regions. Buddha died in Uttar Pradesh. Followers of Buddhism, called Buddhists in English, referred to themselves as Saugata. Other terms were Sakyabhiksu in ancient India. Sakyaputto was another term used by Buddhists, as well as Jinaputto. Buddhist scholar Donald S. Lopez states they used the term Bauddha; the scholar Richard Cohen in his discussion about the 5th-century Ajanta Caves, states that Bauddha is not attested therein, was used by outsiders to describe Buddhists, except for occasional use as an adjective.
The Buddha did not appoint any successor, asked his followers to work toward liberation following the instructions he had left. The teachings of the Buddha existed only in oral traditions; the Sangha held a number of Buddhist councils in order to reach consensus on matters of Buddhist doctrine and practice. Mahākāśyapa, a disciple of the Buddha, presided over the first Buddhist council held at Rājagṛha, its purpose was to agree on the Buddha's actual teachings and on monastic discipline. Some scholars consider this council fictitious; the Second Buddhist Council is said to have taken place at Vaiśālī. Its purpose was to deal with questionable monastic practices like the use of money, the drinking of palm wine, other irregularities. What is called the Third Buddhist Council was held at Pāṭaliputra, was called by Emperor Aśoka in the 3rd century BCE. Organized by the monk Moggaliputta Tissa, it was held in order to rid the sangha of the large number of monks who had joined the order because of its royal patronage.
Most scholars now believe this council was Theravada, that the dispatch of missionaries to various countries at about this time was nothing to do with it. What is called the Fourth Buddhist council is believed to have been held under the patronage of Emperor Kaniṣka at Jālandhar in Kashmir, though the late Monseigneur Professor Lamotte considered it fictitious, it is believed to have been a council of the Sarvastivāda school. The Early Buddhist Schools were the various schools in which pre-sectarian Buddhism split in the first few centuries after the passing away of the Buddha; the earliest division was between the minority Sthaviravāda. Some existing Buddhist traditions follow the vinayas of early Buddhist schools. Theravāda: practised in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia and Bangladesh. Dharmaguptaka: followed in China, Korea and Taiwan. Mūlasarvāstivāda: followed in Tibetan Buddhism; the Dharmaguptakas made more efforts than any other sect to spread Buddhism outside India, to areas such as Afghanistan, Central Asia, China, they had great success in doing so.
Therefore, most countries which adopted Buddhism from China a
Four Noble Truths
In Buddhism, the Four Noble Truths are "the truths of the Noble Ones", the truths or realities for the "spiritually worthy ones". The truths are: dukkha is an innate characteristic of existence with each rebirth, they are traditionally identified as the first teaching given by the Buddha, considered one of the most important teachings in Buddhism. The four truths appear in many grammatical forms in the ancient Buddhist texts, they have both a symbolic and a propositional function. Symbolically, they represent the awakening and liberation of the Buddha, of the potential for his followers to reach the same religious experience as him; as propositions, the Four Truths are a conceptual framework that appear in the Pali canon and early Hybrid Sanskrit Buddhist scriptures. They are a part of the broader "network of teachings", they provide a conceptual framework for introducing and explaining Buddhist thought, which has to be understood or "experienced". As a proposition, the four truths defy an exact definition, but refer to and express the basic orientation of Buddhism: unguarded sensory contact gives rise to craving and clinging to impermanent states and things, which are dukkha, "incapable of satisfying" and painful.
This craving keeps us caught in samsara, the endless cycle of repeated rebirth, the continued dukkha that comes with it. There is a way to end this cycle, namely by attaining nirvana, cessation of craving, whereafter rebirth and the accompanying dukkha will no longer arise again; this can be accomplished by following the eightfold path, confining our automatic responses to sensory contact by restraining oneself, cultivating discipline and wholesome states, practicing mindfulness and dhyana. The function of the four truths, their importance, developed over time and the Buddhist tradition recognized them as the Buddha's first teaching; this tradition was established when prajna, or "liberating insight", came to be regarded as liberating in itself, instead of or in addition to the practice of dhyana. This "liberating insight" gained a prominent place in the sutras, the four truths came to represent this liberating insight, as a part of the enlightenment story of the Buddha; the four truths grew to be of central importance in the Theravada tradition of Buddhism by about the 5th-century CE, which holds that the insight into the four truths is liberating in itself.
They are less prominent in the Mahayana tradition, which sees the higher aims of insight into sunyata and following the Bodhisattva path as central elements in their teachings and practice. The Mahayana tradition reinterpreted the four truths to explain how a liberated being can still be "pervasively operative in this world". Beginning with the exploration of Buddhism by western colonialists in the 19th century and the development of Buddhist modernism, they came to be presented in the west as the central teaching of Buddhism, sometimes with novel modernistic reinterpretations different from the historic Buddhist traditions in Asia; the four truths are best known from their presentation in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta text, which contains two sets of the four truths, while various other sets can be found in the Pali Canon, a collection of scriptures in the Theravadan Buddhist tradition. The full set, most used in modern expositions, contains grammatical errors, pointing to multiple sources for this set and translation problems within the ancient Buddhist community.
They were considered correct by the Pali tradition, which didn't correct them. According to the Buddhist tradition, the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, "Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion", contains the first teachings that the Buddha gave after attaining full awakening, liberation from rebirth. According to L. S. Cousins, many scholars are of the view that "this discourse was identified as the first sermon of the Buddha only at a date," and according to professor of religion Carol S. Anderson the four truths may not have been part of this sutta, but were added in some versions. Within this discourse, the four noble truths are given as follows: Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering. Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the origin of suffering: it is this craving which leads to re-becoming, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there. Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering: it is the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving, the giving up and relinquishing of it, freedom from it, non-reliance on it.
Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: it is this noble eightfold path. According to this sutra, with the complete comprehension of these four truths release from samsara, the cycle of rebirth, was attain
Buddhism in Thailand
Buddhism in Thailand is of the Theravada school, followed by 94.6 percent of the population. Buddhism in Thailand has become integrated with folk religion as well as Chinese religions from the large Thai Chinese population. Buddhist temples in Thailand are characterized by tall golden stupas, the Buddhist architecture of Thailand is similar to that in other Southeast Asian countries Cambodia and Laos, with which Thailand shares cultural and historical heritage. Buddhism is believed to have come to what is now Thailand as early as 250 BCE, in the time of Indian Emperor Ashoka. Since Buddhism has played a significant role in Thai culture and society. Buddhism and the Thai monarchy has been intertwined, with Thai kings seen as the main patrons of Buddhism in Thailand. Although politics and religion were separated for most of Thai history, Buddhism's connection to the Thai state would increase in the middle of the 19th century following the reforms of King Mongkut, that would lead to the development of a royally backed sect of Buddhism and increased centralization of the Thai Sangha under the state, with state control over Buddhism increasing further after the 2014 coup d'etat.
Thai Buddhism is distinguished for its emphasis on short term ordination for every Thai man and its close interconnection with the Thai state and Thai culture. The two official branches, or Nikayas, of Thai Buddhism are the royally backed Dhammayuttika Nikaya and the larger Maha Nikaya; some scholars believe that Buddhism must have been flowing into Thailand from India at the time of the Indian emperor Ashoka of the Maurya Empire and into the first millennium after Christ. During the 5th to 13th centuries, Southeast Asian empires were influenced directly from India and followed Mahayana Buddhism; the Chinese pilgrim Yijing noted in his travels that in these areas, all major sects of Indian Buddhism flourished. Srivijaya to the south and the Khmer Empire to the north competed for influence and their art expressed the rich Mahāyāna pantheon of bodhisattvas. From the 9th to the 13th centuries, the Mahāyāna and Hindu Khmer Empire dominated much of the Southeast Asian peninsula. Under the Khmer Empire, more than 900 temples were built in Cambodia and in neighboring Thailand.
After the decline of Buddhism in India, missions of Sinhalese monks converted the Mon people and the Pyu city-states from Ari Buddhism to Theravāda and over the next two centuries brought Theravāda Buddhism to the Bamar people, Thailand and Cambodia, where it supplanted previous forms of Buddhism. Theravada Buddhism was made the state religion only with the establishment of the Sukhothai Kingdom in the 13th century; the details of the history of Buddhism in Thailand from the 13th to the 19th century are obscure, in part because few historical records or religious texts survived the Burmese destruction of Ayutthaya, the capital city of the kingdom, in 1767. Ayutthaya was the center of Thai Tantric Theravada, which included the Yogāvacara tradition, has survived in the contemporary Dhammakaya Movement; the Tantric Buddhist Yogāvacara tradition was a mainstream Buddhist tradition in Cambodia and Thailand well into the modern era. An inscription from northern Thailand with tantric elements has been dated to the Sukhothai Kingdom of the 16th century.
Kate Crosby notes that this attestation makes the tantric tradition earlier than "any other living meditation tradition in the contemporary Theravada world," predating the popular "New Burmese Satipatthana Method", better known as Vipassana meditation. The anthropologist-historian S. J. Tambiah, has suggested a general pattern for that era, at least with respect to the relations between Buddhism and the sangha on the one hand and the king on the other hand. In Thailand, as in other Theravada Buddhist kingdoms, the king was in principle thought of as patron and protector of the religion and the sangha, while sasana and the sangha were considered in turn the treasures of the polity and the signs of its legitimacy. Religion and polity, remained separate domains, in ordinary times the organizational links between the sangha and the king were not close. Among the chief characteristics of Thai kingdoms and principalities in the centuries before 1800 were the tendency to expand and contract, problems of succession, the changing scope of the king's authority.
In effect, some Thai kings had greater power over larger territories, others less, invariably a king who sought to expand his power exercised greater control over the sangha. That control was coupled with greater patronage of the ecclesiastical hierarchy; when a king was weak, however and supervision of the sangha weakened, the sangha declined. This fluctuating pattern appears to have continued until the emergence of the Chakri Dynasty in the last quarter of the 18th century. By the 19th century, with the coming to power in 1851 of King Mongkut, a monk himself for twenty-seven years, the sangha, like the kingdom, became more centralized and hierarchical in nature and its links to the state more institutionalized; as a monk, Mongkut was a distinguished scholar of Pali Buddhist scripture. 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 became the basis for the Dhammayuttika order of monks.
Under the reform, all practices having no authority other than custom were to be abandoned, canonical regulations were to be followed not mechanically but in spirit, acts intended to improve an individual's standing on the ro
Buddhism in Sri Lanka
Theravada Buddhism is the State religion of Sri Lanka practiced by 70.2% of the Sri Lanka's population. Buddhism has been given special privileges in the constitution and declared country's official religion by 2nd president of sri Lanka J. R Jayawardene. Sri Lanka is traditionally oldest religious Buddhist country where Buddhist aryan culture is protected and preserved; the island has been a center of Buddhist scholarship and learning since the introduction of Buddhism in the third century BCE producing eminent scholars such as Buddhaghosa and preserving the vast Pāli Canon. Throughout most of its history, Sri Lankan kings have played a major role in the maintenance and revival of the Buddhist institutions of the island. During the 19th century, a modern Buddhist revival took place on the island which promoted Buddhist education and learning. There are around 6,000 Buddhist monasteries on Sri Lanka with 15,000 monks. According to traditional Sri Lankan chronicles such as the Dipavamsa, Buddhism was introduced into Sri Lanka in the third century BCE after the Third Buddhist council by Arhanthà Mahinda thero, son of Emperor Ashoka, during the reign of Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura.
After the arrival of Arahantha Mahinda, he invited his sister Sangamitta Thera to bring a sapling of the Bodhi Tree to Sri Lanka and the first Buddhist monastery and monk were introduced. Among these, the Isurumuniya and the Vessagiriya remain important centers of worship, he is credited with the construction of the Pathamaka cetiya, the Jambukola vihāra and the Hatthālhaka vihāra and the refectory. The Pali Canon, having been preserved as an oral tradition, was first converted into writing in Sri Lanka around 30 BCE. Along with Mahinda came his sibling Sanghamitra, she gave the nun ordinace to women devotees. Mahavamsa §29 records that during the rule of the Greco-Bactrian King Menander I, a Yona head monk named Mahadharmaraksita led 30,000 Buddhist monks from "the Greek city of Alasandra" to Sri Lanka for the dedication of the Ruwanwelisaya in Anuradhapura, indicating that Greco-Buddhism contributed to early Sri Lankan Buddhism. See the Milinda Panha; as a result of the work of Buddhaghosa and other compilers such as Dhammapala, Sri Lanka developed a strong tradition of written textual transmission of the Pali Canon.
The compilation of the Atthakatha along with the Nikāyas and other Pitakas were committed to writing for the first time in the Aluvihare Rock Temple during the first century BCE. Buddhist literature in Sinhalese thrived and by 410, Sri Lankan monks traveled throughout India and Asia introducing their works. Over much of the early history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, three subdivisions of Theravāda existed in Sri Lanka, consisting of the monks of the three mahaviharas:- Anuradhapura Maha Viharaya, Abhayagiri vihāra and Jetavanaramaya; the Anuradhapura Maha Viharaya was the first tradition to be established while Abhayagiri vihāra and Jetavanaramaya were established by monks who had broken away from the Maha Viharaya tradition. According to A. K. Warder, the Indian Mahīśāsaka established itself in Sri Lanka alongside the Theravadas into which they were absorbed. Northern regions of Sri Lanka seem to have been ceded to sects from India at certain times. In the 7th century, Xuanzang wrote of two major divisions of Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka, referring to the Abhayagiri tradition as the "Mahayana Sthaviras" and the Mahāvihāra tradition as the "Hinayana Sthaviras."
Abhayagiri appears to have been a center for Vajrayana teachings. In the 8th century, both Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism were being practiced in Sri Lanka and two Indian monks responsible for propagating Vajrayana Buddhism in China and Amoghavajra, visited the island during this time. In Pali commentaries, terms used for the Mahayanins of Abhayagiri were Vaitulya and Vaidalya. According to HR Perera, the Theravada commentaries considered them heretical and their doctrines included: They held the view that the Buddha, having been born in the Tusita heaven, lived there and never came down to earth and it was only a created form that appeared among men; this created Ānanda, who learned from it, preached the doctrine. They held that nothing whatever given to the Order bears fruit, for the Sangha, which in the ultimate sense of the term meant only the path and fruitions, does not accept anything. According to them any human pair may enter upon sexual intercourse by mutual consent. In the 5th century, Faxian lived there for two years with the monks.
Faxian obtained a Sanskrit copy of the Vinaya of the Mahīśāsaka at the Abhayagiri vihāra c. 406. The Mahīśāsaka Vinaya was translated into Chinese in 434 by Buddhajiva and Zhu Daosheng; this translation of the Mahīśāsaka Vinaya remains extant in the Chinese Buddhist canon as Taishō Tripiṭaka 1421. The 7th century pilgrim Xuanzang first learned for several years at Nalanda and intended to go to Sri Lanka to seek out further instruction. However, after meeting Sri Lankan monks in the Chola capital who were refugees, he decided not to visit: At the time of Hiuen Tsang's visit the capital was visited by 300 Bhikshus of Ceylon who had left the island in consequence of famine and revolution there. On the pilgrim telling them of his intended visit to Ceylon for instruction, they told him that there were no Brethren there superior to them; the pilgrim discussed some Yoga texts with them and found that their explanations could not excel those given
Sri Lanka the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in South Asia, located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea. The island is geographically separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait; the legislative capital, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, is a suburb of the commercial capital and largest city, Colombo. Sri Lanka's documented history spans 3,000 years, with evidence of pre-historic human settlements dating back to at least 125,000 years, it has a rich cultural heritage and the first known Buddhist writings of Sri Lanka, the Pāli Canon, date back to the Fourth Buddhist council in 29 BC. Its geographic location and deep harbours made it of great strategic importance from the time of the ancient Silk Road through to the modern Maritime Silk Road. Sri Lanka was known from the beginning of British colonial rule as Ceylon. A nationalist political movement arose in the country in the early 20th century to obtain political independence, granted in 1948.
Sri Lanka's recent history has been marred by a 26-year civil war, which decisively ended when the Sri Lanka Armed Forces defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2009. The current constitution stipulates the political system as a republic and a unitary state governed by a semi-presidential system, it has had a long history of international engagement, as a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the G77, the Non-Aligned Movement. Along with the Maldives, Sri Lanka is one of only two South Asian countries rated "high" on the Human Development Index, with its HDI rating and per capita income the highest among South Asian nations; the Sri Lankan constitution accords Buddhism the "foremost place", although it does not identify it as a state religion. Buddhism is given special privileges in the Sri Lankan constitution; the island is home to many cultures and ethnicities. The majority of the population is from the Sinhalese ethnicity, while a large minority of Tamils have played an influential role in the island's history.
Moors, Malays and the indigenous Vedda are established groups on the island. In antiquity, Sri Lanka was known to travellers by a variety of names. According to the Mahavamsa, the legendary Prince Vijaya named the land Tambapanni, because his followers' hands were reddened by the red soil of the area. In Hindu mythology, such as the Ramayana, the island was referred to as Lankā; the Tamil term Eelam, was used to designate the whole island in Sangam literature. The island was known under Chola rule as Mummudi Cholamandalam. Ancient Greek geographers called it Taprobanē from the word Tambapanni; the Persians and Arabs referred to it as Sarandīb from Cerentivu or Siṃhaladvīpaḥ. Ceilão, the name given to Sri Lanka by the Portuguese Empire when it arrived in 1505, was transliterated into English as Ceylon; as a British crown colony, the island was known as Ceylon. The country is now known in Sinhala in Tamil as Ilaṅkai. In 1972, its formal name was changed to "Free and Independent Republic of Sri Lanka".
In 1978 it was changed to the "Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka". As the name Ceylon still appears in the names of a number of organisations, the Sri Lankan government announced in 2011 a plan to rename all those over which it has authority; the pre-history of Sri Lanka goes back 125,000 years and even as far back as 500,000 years. The era spans the Palaeolithic and early Iron Ages. Among the Paleolithic human settlements discovered in Sri Lanka, which dates back to 37,000 BP, Batadombalena and Belilena are the most important. In these caves, archaeologists have found the remains of anatomically modern humans which they have named Balangoda Man, other evidence suggesting that they may have engaged in agriculture and kept domestic dogs for driving game. One of the first written references to the island is found in the Indian epic Ramayana, which provides details of a kingdom named Lanka, created by the divine sculptor Vishwakarma for Kubera, the Lord of Wealth, it is said that Kubera was overthrown by his demon stepbrother Ravana, the powerful emperor who built a mythical flying machine named Dandu Monara.
The modern city of Wariyapola is described as Ravana's airport. Early inhabitants of Sri Lanka were ancestors of the Vedda people, an indigenous people numbering 2,500 living in modern-day Sri Lanka; the 19th-century Irish historian James Emerson Tennent theorized that Galle, a city in southern Sri Lanka, was the ancient seaport of Tarshish from which King Solomon is said to have drawn ivory and other valuables. According to the Mahāvamsa, a chronicle written in Pāḷi, the original inhabitants of Sri Lanka are the Yakshas and Nagas. Ancient cemeteries that were used before 600 BC and other signs of advanced civilisation have been discovered in Sri Lanka. Sinhalese history traditionally starts in 543 BC with the arrival of Prince Vijaya, a semi-legendary prince who sailed with 700 followers to Sri Lanka, after being expelled from Vanga Kingdom (present-day Ben