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

Poetry: China (Song and After)

(4,898 words)

Author(s): Christopher R. Byrne | Jason Protass
Chinese Buddhist poetry from the Song (宋; 960–1279) onward was marked by the dominance of Chan Buddhism and the participation of a newly emergent literary elite whose writings were increasingly published and preserved due to advances in printing technology. All of these factors, their individual development and occasional confluence, are the most salient traits of Chinese Buddhist literature from the Song until the literary May Fourth Movement (1919).The special relationship between Buddhism and poetry has been a recurring subject of scholarship, mostly focused…

Poetry: China (Until the Song Period)

(4,139 words)

Author(s): T.H. (Tim) Barrett
That Buddhism had a major impact on the Chinese poetic tradition is beyond dispute. The phonological awareness prompted by the process of translation from Indo-European languages, for example, had a verifiable influence on prosody (Mair & Mei, 1991); many other influences in form and content are also detectable. Yet “poetry” ( shi [詩]) was in premodern China defined not only in linguistic terms but also by reference to history. The language may be straightforward, in the style of a folk ballad, but an awareness of literary tradition generally ob…

Poetry: Japan

(5,294 words)

Author(s): Jean-Noël Robert | Richard Bowring
Several poetic genres fall under the general category of Buddhist poetry in Japan, including wasan (和讃; Japanese hymns) and songs in the imayō (今様; modern) style. The earliest wasan, which date from the mid-10th century, were liturgies in praise of such topics as the enlightenment of the Buddha or Amitābha’s Western Paradise, Japanese versions of Chinese originals, designed to be intoned before altars during Tendai (天台) services. The most famous wasan, however, are those created by the founder of True Pure Land Buddhism (Jōdo Shinshū [淨土眞 宗]), Shinran (親 鸞 ; …

Prajñāpāramitā Sūtras

(28,591 words)

Author(s): Stefano Zacchetti
The Sanskrit compound prajñāpāramitā, which may be rendered “perfection of insight” or “perfection of wisdom,” refers to a fundamental teaching of Mahāyāna Buddhism and to a family of texts devoted to its exposition. The Prajñāpāramitā literature consists of a vast number of texts of varying size, mostly in dialogic form, presented as teachings imparted by the Buddha. They were composed, for the most part in prose, in different ages and in various Indic languages, and subsequently translated in several other idioms, especially Chinese and Tibetan.The history of the Prajñāpārami…

Primary Source (Collection) Abbreviations

(306 words)

  AN Aṅguttaranikāya AKBh. Abhidharmakośabhāṣya AKVy. Abhidharmakośavyākhyā As Atthasālinī C. Cambodia (see: G. Cœdès & H. Parmentier, Listes générales des inscriptions et des monuments du Champa et du Cambodge, 1923) CMYSXB Chanmen yishu xubian (禪門逸書續編) D Derge DBZ Dainihon bukkyō zensho (大日本佛教全書) Dhp-a Dhammapadaṭṭhakathā Dīp Dīpavaṃsa DN Dīghanikāya Gv Gandhavaṃsa HDZ Hōnen shōnin den zenshū (法然上人傳全集) HPC Han’guk pulgyo chŏnsŏ (한국불교 전서) HTPṬ. Hevajratantrapiṇḍārthaṭīkā J Jiaxing dazangjing (嘉興大藏經) Ja Jātaka JZ Jōdoshū zensho (浄土宗全書) JZZ Jōdoshū zensho, zoku (浄土宗全書・続) K K…

Pure Land Sūtras

(15,233 words)

Author(s): Vincent Eltschinger
Buddhism focused on Pure Land faith and practice can be defined as the set of all ideas and practices related to Buddhas who are presently living in world-systems other than our own…, [of] all Buddhist teachings that look forward to the possibility of rebirth in another world-system [ lokadhātu] or Buddha-field [ buddhakṣetra; foguo (佛國)], where a Buddha is presently teaching the Dharma. (Nattier, 2000, 74–75) Let it be emphasized from the outset that a “pure land” is a paradise-like universe of its own and not, stricto sensu, a heaven ( svarga), an expression that must be reserved fo…

Putixin Lun

(2,628 words)

Author(s): Shinya Mano
The Jingangding yugazhong fa anouduoluo sanmiao sanputixin lun (金剛頂瑜伽中發阿耨多羅三藐三菩提心論; Treatise on the Realized Mind in Diamond-Peak Yogic Tradition), better known as the Putixin lun or, in Japanese pronunciation, Bodaishin ron (菩提心論; T. 1665), is the most important treatise in the Japanese esoteric or tantric tradition. As the title indicates, the Putixin lun belongs to the textual tradition of the Jingangding jing (金剛頂經; Vajraśekharasūtra), which alongside the Dari jing (大日經; Mahāvairocanasūtra) provides the inspiration for the twofold mandalic world (Chn. liangjie [兩界]) ce…