Rigveda (padapatha) manuscript in Devanagari, early 19th century. The red horizontal and vertical lines mark low and high pitch changes for chanting.

One of the early schools of Buddhism and a branch of the Vibhajyavāda school based in Sri Lanka.

- Tamrashatiya

11 related topics



Most commonly accepted name of Buddhism's oldest existing school.

The Thuparamaya Stupa, the earliest stupa after Theravada Buddhism became the official religion in Sri Lanka, dating back to the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa (247–207 BCE).
The Ruwanwelisaya stupa, built by the Sri Lankan King Dutugemunu (c. 140 B.C.E.).
Gold Plates containing fragments of the Pali Tipitaka (5th century) found in Maunggan (a village near the city of Sriksetra).
Bagan, the capital of the Bagan Kingdom. Between the 11th and 13th centuries, more than 10,000 temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains.
A Burmese man meditates in Myanmar. The widespread practice of meditation by laypersons is a modern development in Theravāda.
Thai Forest teacher Ajahn Chah with Ajahn Sumedho (front right), Ajahn Pasanno (rear and left of Sumedho) and other monastics.
Global Vipassana Pagoda, Maharashtra, India. S.N. Goenka laid the foundation for the structure in 2000 and the pagoda opened in 2009. Regular meditation courses are held at the complex.
Pre-modern copies of the Tipiṭaka were preserved in Palm-leaf manuscripts, most of which have not survived the humid climate of South Asia and Southeast Asia.
A full modern set of the Tipiṭaka can fill many volumes (from 40 to over 50 volumes depending on the edition).
Buddhaghosa (right) (c. 5th century), shown here presenting three copies of his influential doctrinal compendium, the Visuddhimagga, to the elders of the Sri Lankan Mahavihara school.
Painting of Buddha's first sermon from Wat Chedi Liem in Thailand
Ledi Sayadaw, was one of the great Abhidhamma scholars of the 20th century as well as a teacher of meditation.
Sakka in Tavatimsa Heaven, Wat Yang Thong, Songkhla, Thailand.
A Burmese depiction of a hell scene
A Burmese illustrated manuscript depicting Sumedha (the future Buddha Gautama) and Dīpankara Buddha.
A statue of the arahant Moggallana, who is identifiable by his dark (nila, i.e. blue/black) skin. He was one of the two most senior disciples of the Buddha and the foremost in psychic powers.
The Dhamma Wheel with eight spokes usually symbolizes the Noble Eightfold Path.
Theravādin monks meditating in Bodh Gaya (Bihar, India)
Ajahn Mun, a key figure in the founding of the Thai Forest Tradition, is widely considered to have been an Arahant in Thailand.
Mahasi Sayadaw
Circumambulation around a temple or a stupa is also a common devotional practice.
Young Burmese monk
Thai monks on pilgrimage in their orange robes.
The ceremony walks with lighted candles in hand around a temple on Vesakha Puja in Uttaradit, Thailand.
A cave kuti (hut) in the Sri Lankan forest monastery Na Uyana Aranya.
Candidates for the Buddhist monkhood being ordained as monks in Thailand
A Buddhist Monk chants evening prayers inside a monastery located near the town of Kantharalak, Thailand.
Dhammananda Bhikkhuni
Thai monks blessing the King of Thailand in Wat Nong Wong, Amphoe Sawankhalok, Sukhothai, Thailand.
Map showing the three major Buddhist divisions in Tibet, Mongolia, Nepal, East and Southeast Asia.

In Sri Lanka, it became known as the Tambapaṇṇiya (and later as Mahāvihāravāsins) which was based at the Great Vihara (Mahavihara) in Anuradhapura (the ancient Sri Lankan capital).

Pāli Canon

Standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, as preserved in the Pāli language.

Standard edition of the Thai Pali Canon
In pre-modern times the Pali Canon was not published in book form, but written on thin slices of wood (Palm-leaf manuscript or Bamboo). The leaves are kept on top of each other by thin sticks and the scripture is covered in cloth and kept in a box.
Burmese-Pali manuscript copy of the Buddhist text Mahaniddesa, showing three different types of Burmese script, (top) medium square, (centre) round and (bottom) outline round in red lacquer from the inside of one of the gilded covers

It derives mainly from the Tamrashatiya school.

Early Buddhist schools

The early Buddhist schools are those schools into which the Buddhist monastic saṅgha split early in the history of Buddhism.

Map of the major geographical centers of major Buddhist schools in South Asia, at around the time of Xuanzang's visit in the seventh century. * Red: non-Pudgalavāda Sarvāstivāda school * Orange: non-Dharmaguptaka Vibhajyavāda schools * Yellow: Mahāsāṃghika * Green: Pudgalavāda (Green) * Gray: Dharmaguptaka Note the red and grey schools already gave some original ideas of Mahayana Buddhism and the Sri Lankan section (see Tamrashatiya) of the orange school is the origin of modern Theravada Buddhism.



Indian religion or philosophical tradition based on a series of original teachings attributed to Gautama Buddha.

Ancient kingdoms and cities of India during the time of the Buddha (circa 500 BCE) – modern-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan
The gilded "Emaciated Buddha statue" in an Ubosoth in Bangkok representing the stage of his asceticism
Enlightenment of Buddha, Kushan dynasty, late 2nd to early 3rd century CE, Gandhara.
The Buddha teaching the Four Noble Truths. Sanskrit manuscript. Nalanda, Bihar, India.
Traditional Tibetan Buddhist Thangka depicting the Wheel of Life with its six realms
Ramabhar Stupa in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh, India is regionally believed to be Buddha's cremation site.
An aniconic depiction of the Buddha's spiritual liberation (moksha) or awakening (bodhi), at Sanchi. The Buddha is not depicted, only symbolized by the Bodhi tree and the empty seat.
Dharma Wheel and triratna symbols from Sanchi Stupa number 2.
Buddhist monks and nuns praying in the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple of Singapore
A depiction of Siddhartha Gautama in a previous life prostrating before the past Buddha Dipankara. After making a resolve to be a Buddha, and receiving a prediction of future Buddhahood, he becomes a "bodhisattva".
Bodhisattva Maitreya, Gandhara (3rd century), Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Sermon in the Deer Park depicted at Wat Chedi Liam, near Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand.
Buddhist monks collect alms in Si Phan Don, Laos. Giving is a key virtue in Buddhism.
An ordination ceremony at Wat Yannawa in Bangkok. The Vinaya codes regulate the various sangha acts, including ordination.
Living at the root of a tree (trukkhamulik'anga) is one of the dhutaṅgas, a series of optional ascetic practices for Buddhist monastics.
Kōdō Sawaki practicing Zazen ("sitting dhyana")
Seated Buddha, Gal Viharaya, Polonnawura, Sri Lanka.
Kamakura Daibutsu, Kōtoku-in, Kamakura, Japan.
Statue of Buddha in Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, Phitsanulok, Thailand
An 18th century Mongolian miniature which depicts the generation of the Vairocana Mandala
A section of the Northern wall mural at the Lukhang Temple depicting tummo, the three channels (nadis) and phowa
Monks debating at Sera Monastery, Tibet
Tibetan Buddhist prostration practice at Jokhang, Tibet.
Vegetarian meal at Buddhist temple. East Asian Buddhism tends to promote vegetarianism.
A depiction of the supposed First Buddhist council at Rajgir. Communal recitation was one of the original ways of transmitting and preserving Early Buddhist texts.
Gandhara birchbark scroll fragments (c. 1st century) from British Library Collection
The Tripiṭaka Koreana in South Korea, an edition of the Chinese Buddhist canon carved and preserved in over 81,000 wood printing blocks
Buddhist monk Geshe Konchog Wangdu reads Mahayana sutras from an old woodblock copy of the Tibetan Kanjur.
Mahākāśyapa meets an Ājīvika ascetic, one of the common Śramaṇa groups in ancient India
Ajanta Caves, Cave 10, a first period type chaitya worship hall with stupa but no idols.
Sanchi Stupa No. 3, near Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh, India.
Map of the Buddhist missions during the reign of Ashoka according to the Edicts of Ashoka.
Extent of Buddhism and trade routes in the 1st century CE.
Buddhist expansion throughout Asia
A Buddhist triad depicting, left to right, a Kushan, the future buddha Maitreya, Gautama Buddha, the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, and a monk. Second–third century. Guimet Museum
Site of Nalanda University, a great center of Mahāyāna thought
Vajrayana adopted deities such as Bhairava, known as Yamantaka in Tibetan Buddhism.
Angkor Thom build by Khmer King Jayavarman VII (c. 1120–1218).
Distribution of major Buddhist traditions
Buddhists of various traditions, Yeunten Ling Tibetan Institute
Monastics and white clad laypersons celebrate Vesak, Vipassakna Dhaurak, Cambodia
Chinese Buddhist monks performing a formal ceremony in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China.
Tibetan Buddhists practicing Chöd with various ritual implements, such as the Damaru drum, hand-bell, and Kangling (thighbone trumpet).
Ruins of a temple at the Erdene Zuu Monastery complex in Mongolia.
Buryat Buddhist monk in Siberia
1893 World Parliament of Religions in Chicago
Interior of the Thai Buddhist wat in Nukari, Nurmijärvi, Finland
Percentage of Buddhists by country, according to the Pew Research Center, as of 2010
A painting by G. B. Hooijer (c. 1916–1919) reconstructing a scene of Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world.
Frontispiece of the Chinese Diamond Sūtra, the oldest known dated printed book in the world

Theravāda derives from the Mahāvihāra (Tāmraparṇīya) sect, a Sri Lankan branch of the Vibhajyavāda Sthaviras, which began to establish itself on the island from the 3rd century BCE onwards.

Buddhism in Sri Lanka

Largest and official religion of Sri Lanka, practiced by 82.2% of the population as of 2022.

Map of the Buddhist missions during the reign of Ashoka.
Sanghamitta, carrying a sapling of the Bodhi Tree, the tree under which the Buddha attained awakening.
Abhayagiriya Monastery with Samadhi Statue, Kuttam Pokuna (twin pond) and moonstone.
Gilded bronze statue of the Tara Bodhisattva, from the Anuradhapura period (8th century)
Buddhaghosa (c. 5th century), the most important Abhidharma scholar of Theravāda Buddhism, presenting three copies of the Visuddhimagga.
The Sigiriya ("Lion Rock"), a rock fortress and city, built by King Kashyapa (477 – 495 CE) as a new more defensible capital. It was also used as a Buddhist monastery after the capital was moved back to Anuradhapura.
Yapahuwa, one of the Sinhala rock fortresses of this era. King Bhuvenakabahu fled here in 1272 with the tooth relic to escape invaders. It was later abandoned and became a home to Buddhist monks.
Bronze statue of Avalokiteśvara. Sri Lanka, c. 750.
Dutch painting of a Buddhist religious festival in Ceylon, c. 1672
"A Kandyan Dissava and Priest of Boodhoo", illustration by John Davy (1821) of a native Kandyan chief/administrator and a Buddhist monk.
Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thera, an important Buddhist scholar of the revival with Colonel Henry Steel Olcott.
Dharmapala (seated centre) with other international members of the Mahabodhi Society, Calcutta
Asoka Weeraratna
A kuti (monk's hut) at Nā Uyana Aranya forest monastery
Sinhalese Buddhist monks
A. T. Ariyaratne
Buddhism by region, data from the Sri Lanka 2012 Census.

As they became established in Sri Lanka (at Anuradhapura), they also started to become known as the Tambapaṇṇiya (Sanskrit: Tāmraśāṭīya, Tāmraparṇīya), the name refers to a red copper-like color.

Buddhism in Myanmar

State religion of Myanmar since 1961, and practiced by nearly 90% of the population.

Temples in the ancient city of Bagan
Gold Plates containing fragments of the Pali Tipitaka (5th century) found in Maunggan (a village near the city of Sriksetra).
A Dharma wheel from the Mon Dvaravati state.
Buddha statues in one of the monastic cells in the Somingyi Kyaung temple, located just south of Nagayon in Bagan.
Thatbyinnyu Temple, 12th century, Bagan
Burma in the 1450s showing the four major regional powers
Phukhao Thong just outside Ayutthaya, donated by Bayinnaung
18th-century depiction of the Lokanātha (Loka Byuha Nat).
The unfinished Mingun Pahtodawgyi of Bodawpaya, intended to be the largest stupa in the world.
Ledi Sayadaw
Convening of the Sixth Buddhist council at the Great Cave.
Burmese Buddhist devotees converge on a Bodhi tree in preparation for watering.
Lighting candles during the Festival of lights
A layman meditates in front of a giant bell, at Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, 2012.
A traditional Buddhist altar at a kyaung in Taunggyi, Shan State.
Young monks near Indein, Shan State
Buddhist monks were at the forefront of the so-called Saffron Revolution in 2007, in protest of living and economic conditions in the country.

Bayinnaung attempted to bring the religious practice of his empire more in line with the orthodox Sri Lankan Mahavihara tradition (i.e. the Sinhala Sangha).


Historical town, now an island located near Nagarjuna Sagar in Palnadu district of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, near the state border with Telangana.

Ruins of the site
Holy relic sites map of Andhra Pradesh
Division of Buddha Relics, Nagarjunakonda
Panoramic view of the Buddha statue and other monuments
Relief of Dionysus, Nagarjunakonda Palace site. He has a light beard, is semi-nude and carries a drinking horn. There is a barrel of wine next to him.
Roman aurei found in Nagarjunakonda
Nagarjunakonda Ayaka pillar inscription of the time of Ikshvaku ruler Vira-Purushadatta (250-275 CE)
Megalith Age Burial Area 2nd century

Inscriptions showed that there were monasteries belonging to the Bahuśrutīya and Aparamahavinaseliya sub-schools of the Mahāsāṃghika, the Mahisasaka, and the Mahaviharavasin, from Sri Lanka.

Buddhist councils

Since the death of the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, Buddhist monastic communities ("sangha") have periodically convened to settle doctrinal and disciplinary disputes and to revise and correct the contents of the sutras.

Asoka and Moggaliputta-Tissa at the Third Council, at the Nava Jetavana, Shravasti
Reconstitution of the 80-pillared hall in Pataliputra, where the Third Buddhist Council may have taken place. Patna Museum.
Emperor Kanishka I
The Sixth Buddhist Council

The sixth council, according to the Saṅgītiyavaṁsa, comprises the activities of the Pāli translation of the Sinhalese commentaries, a project that was led by Ācariya Buddhaghosa and involved numerous bhikkhus of the Sri Lankan Mahavihara tradition.

Sacred language

Any language that is cultivated and used primarily in church service or for other religious reasons by people who speak another, primary language in their daily lives.

Navy Chaplain Milton Gianulis conducts an Easter morning Orthodox Liturgy candlelight service aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75)

The present Pali Canon originates from the Tamrashatiya school.

Silk Road transmission of Buddhism

Buddhism entered Han China via the Silk Road, beginning in the 1st or 2nd century CE.

Buddhist expansion in Asia: Mahayana Buddhism first entered the Chinese Empire (Han dynasty) through Silk Road during the Kushan Era. The overland and maritime "Silk Roads" were interlinked and complementary, forming what scholars have called the "great circle of Buddhism".
Blue-eyed Central Asian monk teaching East-Asian monk. A fresco from the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, dated to the 9th century; although Albert von Le Coq (1913) assumed the blue-eyed, red-haired monk was a Tocharian, modern scholarship has identified similar Caucasian figures of [[:File:BezeklikSogdianMerchants.jpg|the same cave temple]] (No. 9) as ethnic Sogdians, an Eastern Iranian people who inhabited Turfan as an ethnic minority community during the phases of Tang Chinese (7th–8th century) and Uyghur rule (9th–13th century).
Kingdoms in the Tarim Basin during the 3rd century, connecting the territory of China with that of the Kushan Empire: Kashgar, Kucha, Khotan, Karasahr, Shanshan, Turfan.
Peoples of the Silk Road. Mogao Caves, Dunhuang, China, 9th century
Bodhisattva mural. Chinese work showing Central Asian influence. Mogao Caves, China.
Sogdian donors to the Buddha (fresco, with detail), Bezeklik, eastern Tarim Basin, China, 8th century
Eastern Han inscriptions on lead ingot, using barbarous Greek alphabet in the style of the Kushans, excavated in Shaanxi, China, 1st–2nd century CE.
"Heroic gesture of the Bodhisattva", 6th–7th century terracotta, Tumshuq (Xinjiang)
Mogao Caves 8th-century mural depicting the pseudohistorical legend of Emperor Wu of Han worshipping "golden man" Buddha statues.

These contacts transmitted strands of Sarvastivadan and Tamrashatiya Buddhism throughout the Eastern world.