Encyclopedia of Buddhism Online

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Since publication of the first volume, in 2015, Brill's steadily growing Encyclopedia of Buddhism has been widely acclaimed as the long-awaited authoritative, reliable, and up-to-date reference work.

Illustrated with maps and photographs, and supplemented with extensive online resources, the print version of the thematic encyclopedia presents the latest research on the main aspects of the Buddhist traditions in original essays, all written by the world’s foremost scholars. 

Ultimately consisting of six volumes, the Encyclopedia presents a balanced and even-handed view of the Buddhist traditions across Asia, offering the most reliable up-to-date accounts of well-known issues. At the same time it fills many gaps in heretofore-neglected areas. Contributions emphasize time and again that Buddhism is simultaneously constituted by a plurality of regional traditions, as well as a far-reaching phenomenon spanning almost all of Asia, and, more recently, far beyond.

The 1000-page first volume (Literature and Languages, publ. 2015)  is available online now.

The online edition of volume 2 (Lives, publ. 2019) will be added in 2021, with further volumes following after their original publication in print.

More information: Brill.com


(5,761 words)

Author(s): Andrew Skilton
The Samādhirājasūtra (Discourse on the King of Samādhis) is a mid-length Mahāyāna scripture showing some affinities with the Prajñāpāramitā corpus through its emphasis on śūnyatā (emptiness) and samatā (sameness). It was in existence in the 2nd century ce and shows some concerns, such as the forest vocation and the permitted asceticisms, in common with other early Mahāyāna texts. It was quoted readily by Buddhist commentators. Despite its title it does not expound a specific meditation technique, and the nature of the samādhi to which it refers is disputable. The text is con…


(5,712 words)

Author(s): John Powers
The Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra is a relatively late (4th-cent. ce[?]) Indian Mahāyāna work consisting of ten chapters in which the Buddha explains apparently contradictory statements attributed to him in earlier discourses. It contains a number of doctrines that appear for the first time in Indic literature and that later became influential in India, Tibet, and East Asia. It is particularly influential in the Yogācāra-Vijñānavāda school, for which it is the most important scriptural source.The Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra claims to be a discourse ( sūtra) spoken by the Buddha, but the f…


(4,341 words)

Author(s): Tsunehiko Sugiki
The Samvara, Śamvara, or Cakrasaṃvara scriptural cycle constitutes the latest stage of the Buddhist yoginītantra literature in the early medieval Indian subcontinent. Many tantras belong to this scriptural tradition, such as Abhidhānottaratantra, Cakrasaṃvaratantra, Caturyoginīsampuṭatantra, Jñānodayatantra, Ḍākārṇavatantra, Yoginījālatantra, Yoginīsaṃcāratantra, Vajraḍākatantra, Vārāhīkalpa-tantra, Saṃvarodayatantra, Sampuṭodbhavatantra, and Herukābhyudayatantra. The earliest tantra among them is the Cakrasaṃvaratantra (also called Herukābhidhānat…


(4,300 words)

Author(s): Péter-Dániel Szántó | Arlo Griffiths
The Sarvabuddhasamāyogaḍākinījālaśaṃvara (hence-forth Śaṃvara) is a significant transitional scripture between what later came to be viewed as the yogatantra and the yoginītantra (or yoganiruttara) classes (Tanaka, 2010, 340); in modern scholarship, it is sometimes referred to as the “proto- yoginītantra” (Tomabechi, 2007, 904; Sanderson, 2009, 147). Along with the Guhyasamājatantra, it bridges the gap between the type of esoteric Buddhism that by and large still operates within the realm of ritual purity and that of transgressive, antinomian esoteric revelation. The Śaṃvar…


(4,289 words)

Author(s): Kazuo Kano
The Mahāyāna sūtra entitled Sarvatathāgatatattvasaṃgraha (Compendium of the Reality of All Tathāgatas) is said to have taken its primary shape in the second half of the 7th century, slightly after the Vairocanābhisaṃbodhi, in South India (Yoritomi, 2005, 44). Sarvatathāgatatattva (the reality of all tathāgatas) refers to tantric methods to attain a buddha’s awakening (see Horiuchi, 1983, 23). Although the scripture refers to itself as a Mahāyāna sūtra, its contents are typically tantric and teach tantric practices, rituals, and maṇḍalas. Its tantric features are highly sy…