Encyclopedia of Buddhism Online

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Brill’s Encyclopedia of Buddhism is the first comprehensive academic reference work devoted to the plurality of Buddhist traditions across Asia, offering readers a balanced and detailed treatment of this complex phenomenon in six thematically arranged volumes: literature and languages (I, publ. 2015), lives (II, publ. 2019), thought (III, forthcoming 2022), history (IV, forthcoming 2023), life and practice (V, forthcoming 2025), index and remaining issues (VI, forthcoming 2026).

Each volume contains substantial original essays by many of the world’s foremost scholars, essays which not only cover basic information and well-known issues but which also venture into areas as yet untouched by modern scholarship. An essential tool for anyone interested in Buddhism.
An online resource will provide easy access to the encyclopedia’s ever-growing corpus of information.

The online edition of volume 2 (Lives, publ. 2019) will be added in (mid-)2021, with further volumes following after their original publication in print.
Brill’s Encyclopedia of Buddhism is under the general editorial control of Jonathan Silk (Leiden University, editor-in-chief), Richard Bowring (University of Cambridge) and Vincent Eltschinger (École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris). In addition, each volume has a dedicated board of specialist editors.

More information: Brill.com

Chan Literature

(23,892 words)

Author(s): T. Griffith Foulk
Defining the CategoryIt is reasonable to reserve the designation “Chan literature” for literary genres that were unique to, or at least invented by and characteristic of, the Chan (禪) school of Buddhism in China. That definition is scarcely controversial, and precedents for it can be found in Chinese historical records dating from as far back as the 9th century. However, there is no consensus among modern scholars as to what kind of movement the Chan school was when it first took shape in China, o…


(3,811 words)

Author(s): Hamar, Imre
Chengguan (澄觀; 738–839) is regarded as the fourth patriarch of the Huayan school (Huayan zong [華嚴宗]) of Chinese Buddhism, which was established as a result of a unique Chinese understanding and interpretation of the Buddhist teachings based on a voluminous Mahāyāna sūtra, the Buddhāvataṃsaka. He is described as an exegete ( yijie [義解]), as his main works are his commentaries on the Da fangguang Fo huayan jing (大方廣 佛華嚴經, T. 279; below, Huayan jing), the Chinese translation of the very same Buddhāvataṃsaka. He wrote his commentary at Wutaishan (五台山), also called Clear and Cool…

Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha

(6,210 words)

Author(s): Funayama, Tōru
The term “Chinese Buddhist apocrypha” refers to those scriptures, or the genre of such scriptures, that while appearing in form to be purely the Chinese translation of a scripture (or sūtra) originating in India were in fact composed in China. These texts follow the style of authentic translations of Indian Buddhist scriptures, usually beginning with the formula “Thus have I heard” (Skt. evaṃ mayā śrutam; Chn. rushi wo wen [如是我聞] or wen rushi [聞如是] as an earlier form). Scholars thus generally use the term Chinese Buddhist apocrypha to mean “ sūtras composed in China.” The use of the …


(4,493 words)

Author(s): Bernard Senécal
Just as it might be said that Wŏnhyo (元曉; 617–686) is the most representative Buddhist of the Unified Silla period (新羅; 668–935), Chinul (知訥; 1158–1210), also known as Moguja (牧牛子, the Oxherder) or State Preceptor Puril Pojo (佛日普照國師), is the outstanding Buddhist of the Koryŏ period (高麗; 918–1392). A scholiast ( kyoga [敎 家]) and a meditation master ( sŏnsa [禪師], sŏnga [禪家]) endowed with an exceptionally eclectic mind, he dedicated his energies to creating harmony between two bitterly conflicting sectarian positions, those who emphasized meditation ( sŏn [禪]) versus those who were d…