The 7th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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北方仏教・北伝仏教 ( Jpn Hoppo-bukkyoor Hokuden-bukkyo)
Neutral term for the Buddhism of Tibet and Mongolia, used by Peter Harvey.
The teachings of Buddhism that spread north from India to Central Asia, Tibet, China, and Korea, and then to Japan.
The term Northern Buddhism is contrasted with Southern Buddhism , the Buddhism that spread south to Sri Lanka and Southeast Asian countries, such as Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia.
This distinction was applied originally in the nineteenth century by European scholars of Buddhism;
the division of Buddhism based on the Pali scriptures preserved in Sri Lanka was called Southern Buddhism, and the division of Buddhism mainly based on the Sanskrit scriptures transmitted from India to Central Asia and China was referred to as Northern Buddhism.
Southern Buddhism is also called Theravada Buddhism. In the areas where Northern Buddhism spread, Mahayana Buddhism is predominant.
Tibetan Buddhism, also known as Lamaism, is classified as Northern Buddhism. It is a mixture of the teachings on monastic discipline of early Buddhism, Mahayana, and Tantric Buddhism, and is practiced mostly in Tibet and Mongolia.
From early on, Northern Buddhism was transmitted from India to Central Asia, but it was not until around the first century that Buddhism spread eastward to China.
Thereafter the translation of the Buddhist scriptures into Chinese proceeded in earnest, giving rise to numerous Chinese versions of the scriptures. In the later fourth century, Buddhism made its way eastward to Korea, which was then divided into three kingdoms—KoguryØ, Paekche, and Silla. From Korea it was introduced to Japan in the sixth century.
Northern and Southern Buddhism are designations related to the development of Buddhism from a geographical viewpoint and not a classification based on teaching.
Though this classification remains somewhat ambiguous, it is indisputable that, in the countries where Northern Buddhism spread, Mahayana has been prevalent, and in the countries where Southern Buddhism spread, Theravada has prevailed.