History of Buddhism

The historical Buddha, called Shakyamuni Buddha lived around the sixth century before the common era. During the first few hundred years after he passed away, the Theravadin tradition predominated. During the first millennium of the Common Era, the Mahayana Buddhist tradition flourished in India, especially centred on Nalanda Monastery in northeast India.  This monastery has been called the world’s first university.  Associated with Nalanda were Nagarjuna and Asanga who initiated important lineages that passed on to later scholars such as Aryadeva, Vasubandhu, Chandrakirti, Dignaga, Dharmakirti, Shantideva, Shantarakshita, Kamalashila and Atisha.  These and other great scholars are associated with the Nalanda tradition.  The last three named were each invited to Tibet to teach towards the end of the first millennium.