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About Buddhism

Buddhism is a religion indigenous to the Indian subcontinent that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, who is commonly known as the Buddha, meaning "the awakened one". The Buddha lived and taught in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings end their suffering (dukkha) through the elimination of ignorance (avidyā) by way of understanding and the seeing of dependent origination (pratītyasamutpāda) and the elimination of desire (taṇhā), and thus the attainment of the cessation of all suffering, known as the sublime state of nirvāņa.

Two major branches of Buddhism are generally recognized: Theravada ("The School of the Elders") and Mahayana ("The Great Vehicle"). Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar etc.). Mahayana is found throughout East Asia (China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan etc.) and includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Shingon, and Tiantai (Tendai). In some classifications, Vajrayana—practiced mainly in Tibet and Mongolia, and adjacent parts of China and Russia—is recognized as a third branch, while others classify it as a part of Mahayana.

While Buddhism remains most popular within Asia and India, both branches are now found throughout the world. Estimates of Buddhists worldwide vary significantly depending on the way Buddhist adherence is defined. Conservative estimates are between 350 and 750 million. Higher estimates are between 1.2 and 1.6 billion. It is also recognized as one of the fastest growing religions in the world.

Buddhist schools vary on the exact nature of the path to liberation, the importance and canonicity of various teachings and scriptures, and especially their respective practices. The foundations of Buddhist tradition and practice are the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings), and the Sangha (the community). Taking "refuge in the triple gem" has traditionally been a declaration and commitment to being on the Buddhist path, and in general distinguishes a Buddhist from a non-Buddhist. Other practices may include following ethical precepts; support of the monastic community; renouncing conventional living and becoming a monastic; the development of mindfulness and practice of meditation; cultivation of higher wisdom and discernment; study of scriptures; devotional practices; ceremonies; and in the Mahayana tradition, invocation of buddhas and bodhisattvas. 1*

E-texts Buddhism

Buddhist Texts at

Study guide on Kamma or karma

Living Dhamma by Venerable Ajahn Chah

The Buddhist Monastic Code Dhamma-Vinaya

Prisoners of Karma A Story by Suvimalee Karunaratna

Practical advice for meditators

A Modern Treatise on Buddhist Satipatthana Meditation

A short history of Buddhism in Myanmar or Burma

Fundamentals of Buddhism Four Lectures

Life of Sariputta, disciple of the Buddha

Life of the Buddha for young people

Buddha, the Gospel

The Teaching of Buddha, The Buddhist Bible:

Buddha, the Word

The Dhammapada


Record of Fa-hien travels to India and Ceylon:

Life of Sariputta, disciple of the Buddha

From the Chinese Zen Masters:

From the Japanese Zen Masters

Diamond Sutra:

Tibetan Buddhism:

The Dhammapada, trans. by Max Muller (

The Dhammapada, trans. by John Richards 

Dhammapada: Wisdom of the Buddha, trans. by Hariscandra Kaviratna 

Inspiration From Enlightened Nuns by Susan Elbaum Jootla 

The Tree of Enlightenment: by Peter Della Santina

The Buddha-Karita of Asvaghosa by Asvaghosa, trans. by Edward B. Cowell 

What Buddhism Is by Sayagyi U Ba Khin 

The Essentials of Buddha Dhamma in Meditative Practice

The Key of Immediate Enlightenment by Ching Hai 

The Manuals of Buddhism: The Exposition of the Buddha Dhamma by Mahathera Ledi Sayadaw 

Uposatha Sila: The Eight-Precept Observance by Somdet Phra Buddhaghosacariya, trans. by Bhikkhu Kantasilo

The Real Values of True Buddhist Meditation by Sayagyi U Ba Khin 

China Falun Gongby Li Hongzhi 

Buddhism in Tibet, Illustrated by Literary Documents by Emil Schlagintweit 

The Religion of the Samurai: A Study of Zen Philosophy and Discipline in China and Japan (1913) by Kaiten Nukariya

The Gospel of Buddha: Compiled from Ancient Records by Paul Carus [1909] A modern retelling of the Buddha's work and life.

Buddha, the Word by Paul Carus

Amitabha by Paul Carus [1906] Buddhist concepts of God, non-violence, and religious tolerance.

The Buddhist Catechism by Henry S. Olcott (42nd. ed.) [1908] A unity platform for Buddhists, drawn up by Buddhism's first modern western convert.

The Creed of Buddha by Edmond Holmes (2nd. ed.) [1919] A Pantheist looks at contemporary Western views of Buddhism.

The Life of Buddha by Andre Ferdinand Herold [1922], tr. by Paul C. Blum [1927] A good introduction to the life and works of Buddha.

A Buddhist Bible by Dwight Goddard (1st ed.) [1932] An edited (but not watered-down) collection of key Zen documents, a favorite of Jack Kerouac. This anthology has had a huge influence on the spread of Buddhism in the English-speaking world.

The Smokey the Bear Sutra by Gary Snyder. A much beloved short poem about the relationship between Buddhism and ecology, written by one of the 'beat' era poets, simultaneously funny and profound. Southern Buddhism

The Dhammapada and The Sutta Nipâta (SBE10), Dhammapada tr. by Max Müller; Sutta-Nipâta tr. by V. Fausböll [1881]

Buddhist Suttas (SBE11) Translated from Pâli by T.W. Rhys Davids [1881]

Vinaya Texts (Part I) (SBE13) Translated from the Pâli by T.W. Rhys Davids and Herman Oldenberg. [1881] The Pâtimokkha and The Mahâvagga, I-IV.

Vinaya Texts (Part II) (SBE17) Translated from the Pâli by T.W. Rhys Davids and Herman Oldenberg. [1882] The Mahâvagga, V-X, and The Kullavagga, I-III.

Vinaya Texts (Part III) (SBE20) Translated from the Pâli by T.W. Rhys Davids and Herman Oldenberg. [1885] The Kullavagga, IV-XII.

The Questions of King Milinda translated by T. W. Rhys Davids     

The Questions of King Milinda, Part I (SBE35) [1890]     

The Questions of King Milinda, Part II (SBE36) [1894]

Dialogues of the Buddha (The Dîgha-Nikâya) Translated from the Pâli by T.W. Rhys Davids; London, H. Frowde, Oxford University Press [1899] Volume II of the Sacred Books of the Buddhists.

Buddhism in Translations by Henry Clarke Warren [1896] A often-cited scholarly anthology of translations of key Theravada Buddhist documents. (thanks to Chris Weimer)

The Udâna Translated by Dawsonne Melanchthon Strong [1902] (thanks to Chris Weimer)

Psalms of the Sisters by Caroline A. F. Rhys Davids [1909] (Thanks to Mary Mark Ockerbloom of

A Celebration of Women Writers)

The Buddha's Way of Virtue tr. by W.D.C. Wagiswara and K.J. Saunders [1920] A translation of the Dhammapada, one of the central Buddhist sacred texts. Jataka The Jataka is a huge collection of fables framed as previous incarnations of the Buddha, many of which either have parallels or derivatives in western folklore and literature. Although the Jataka is not considered part of the canonical Buddhist scripture, it is very popular. Each tale usually has a concise moral, and the entire collection is a browsers' delight.

The Jataka, Vol. I tr. by Robert Chalmers ed. E.B. Cowell [1895] The first of six volumes of the complete Cowell translation of the Jataka.

The Jataka, Vol. II tr. by W. H. D. Rouse ed. E.B. Cowell [1895] The second of six volumes of the complete Cowell translation of the Jataka.

The Jataka, Vol. III tr. by H.T. Francis, ed. E.B. Cowell [1897] The third of six volumes of the complete Cowell translation of the Jataka.

The Jataka, Vol. IV tr. by W.H.D. Rouse, ed. E.B. Cowell [1901] The fourth of six volumes of the complete Cowell translation of the Jataka.

The Jataka, Vol. V tr. by H.T. Francis, ed. E.B. Cowell [1905] The fifth of six volumes of the complete Cowell translation of the Jataka.

The Jataka, Vol. VI tr. by E.B. Cowell, and W.H.D. Rouse [1907] The sixth and final volume of the complete Cowell translation of the Jataka.

Indian Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs [1912] A collection of Indian folklore, retold for younger readers 'of all ages', includes many stories from the Jataka, a Buddhist compilation of fables.

Jataka Tales by Ellen C. Babbit [1912] A collection of Jataka stories, fables about previous incarnations of the Buddha, usually as an animal, retold for younger readers.

Buddhist Scriptures by E. J. Thomas [1913] A short collection of Buddhist scripture, from the Wisdom of the East series. Northern Buddhism

The Fo-Sho-Hing-Tsan-King (SBE19) A Life of Buddha by Asvaghosha Bodhisattva, translated from Sanskrit into Chinese by Dharmaraksha A.D. 420, and From Chinese into English by Samuel Beal [1883]

Buddhist Mahâyâna Texts (SBE 49) [1894] Translated by E.B. Cowell, F. Max Müller, and J. Kakakusu. Includes the

Diamond Sutra.

Saddharma-pundarîka (The Lotus Sutra) (SBE 21) tr. by H. Kern [1884]

She-rab Dong-bu (The Tree of Wisdom) by Nagarjuna; edited and translated by W. L. Cambell [1919] An influential Tibetan Buddhist text.

Esoteric Teachings of the Tibetan Tantra edited and translated by C.A. Musés [1961] Includes Seven Initation Rituals of the Tibetan Tantra, the Six Yogas of Naropa, plus the Vow of Mahamudra.

Açvaghosha's Discourse on the Awakening of Faith in the Mahâyâna tr. by Teitaro Suzuki [1900]

The Awakening of Faith of Ashvagosha tr. by Timothy Richard [1907]

The Path of Light tr. by L.D. Barnett [1909] A translation of the Bodhicharyavatara of Santideva, a key Mahayana Buddhist text.

The Gateless Gate by Ekai [Huikai], called Mu-mon, tr. by Nyogen Senzaki and Paul Reps [1934] One of the classic collections of Zen Buddhist Koans.

Chinese Buddhism by Joseph Edkins [1893] A comprehensive discussion of Chinese Buddhism.

Buddhism In Tibet by Emil Schlaginteweit [1863] One of the few 19th century books about Tibetan Buddhism.

The Religion of the Samurai by Kaiten Nukariya [1913] This book focuses on Northern (Mahayana) Buddhism, and Zen Buddhism in particular. It includes a wealth of detail as well as very lucid explanations of Zen Buddhist concepts.

Shinran and His Work: Studies in Shinshu Theology by Arthur Lloyd [1910] A Christian scholar explores Shinshu Buddhism. Includes text and translation of the Shoshinge of Shinran Shonen, with extended commentary.

The Creed of Half Japan by Arthur Lloyd [1911] A comprehensive history of Mahayana Buddhism, particularly in Japan, and possible ties to Gnosticism and early Christianity. Includes two translated texts from the Nichiren school.

Principal Teachings of the True Sect of Pure Land by Yejitsu Okusa [1915] The history and practice of Pure Land Buddhism in Japan.

Buddhist Psalms by S. Yamabe and L. Adams Beck [1921] A key Pure Land text, by the founder of the most popular form of Buddhism in Japan.

Manual of Zen Buddhism by Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki. [1935] An anthology of texts relating to Zen. Suzuki was one of the most popular 20th century writers about Zen Buddhism. Includes the famous

'Ox-Herder' illustrations.

Zen for Americans by Soyen Shaku, translated by Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki. [1906] A collection of essays on Buddhism. Includes The Sutra of Forty-Two Chapters.

Mysticism, Christian and Buddhist by Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki. [1957, not renewed] Suzuki compares and contrasts Buddhism with Meister Eckhart's mystical outlook.

Gleanings In Buddha-Fields by Lafcadio Hearn [1897].

The Nō Plays of Japan by Arthur Waley [1921]. Translations of a selection of Nō dramas, which have deep connections with Japanese Buddhism, Shinto, and Japanese folklore.

Buddhism and Immortality by William Sturgis Bigelow [1908]. A essay on Karma and Nirvana in the light of Darwin and Emerson.

India in Primitive Christianity by Arthur Lillie [1909]. What are the links between Buddhism and early Christianity?

The Way to Nirvana by L. de la Vallée Poussin [1917]. Investigating Buddhist thought on rebirth and transcendence. KAKUZO OKAKURA

The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura [1906] The aesthetics of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, and its connection to the Japanese world-view as a whole.

The Ideals of the East by Kakuzo Okakura [1904] The evolution of Japanese art and its relationship to Buddhism.

Journal Articles about Buddhism A collection of academic journal articles about Buddhism from the 19th Century.

Suggestions for Further Reading

1*. The introduction is adpated from Wikipedia under the under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

Compiled by Jayaram V for

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