Encyclopedia of Buddhism Online

Get access Subject: Asian Studies

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

Historiography: Burma

(7,143 words)

Author(s): Alexey Kirichenko
Burmese historical literature is a corpus of several hundred texts with a fairly defined division into genres (Tet Htoot, 1961; Blackmore, 1967). Key among them are royal and monastic chronicles, histories of Buddhist sacred sites and objects, recensions of Pali historiographic ( vaṃsa) literature, accounts of royal military campaigns and other achievements, records of construction of royal cities or palaces and of holding of court ceremonies, and historical bibliographies of the Pali canon (Bur. piṭakat; Pal. tipiṭaka) as it was understood in Burma. The corpus did not …

Historiography: China

(8,553 words)

Author(s): Yun Ji
Chinese Buddhist historiography was profoundly influenced by the rich indigenous tradition of secular historical writing. Accurate records kept by officially appointed historians date back to approximately 2,500 years ago, to the period preceding the unification of the empire under the Qin (秦). In fact, the earliest testimonies of this practice can be found in oracle bone inscriptions, which represent the earliest form of writing in China. These documents, predominantly religious in character an…

Historiography: South Asia

(5,375 words)

Author(s): Oskar von Hinüber
The first historical texts known from ancient South Asia are the Buddhist chronicles composed in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Consequently, from a very early period, the history of Buddhism on the island is known much better than in any other part of South Asia. Besides texts on the general history of Buddhism, there are specialized chronicles on relics and so on, written in both Pali and Sinhala languages or in Southeast Asian vernaculars.The traditional historiography of Buddhism begins in all schools with the reports on the first and second councils, held at Rājagaha (Sk…

Historiography: Thailand

(5,761 words)

Author(s): François Lagirarde
Written primary sources about the history of Buddhism in premodern polities within what is today Thailand were documents generated, circulated, and archived by different local Buddhist communities and monastic schools. They were preserved in the numerous monastic libraries of the Thai kingdoms and principalities of the early modern period, the ho tham (edifice for the dhamma) or ho trai (edifice for the Tipiṭaka). These sources were compiled, recorded, and recopied in manuscripts from early times up to the mid-20th century in northern Thailand (a polit…