Theravada Buddhist Religion

The Theravada Buddhist Religion is the oldest surviving Buddhist faith which was founded in India and being relatively conservative is considered fairly close to early Buddhism.

It is estimated that there are over 100 million adherents worldwide.

The four main truths are:

  • Dukkha (suffering)
  • Dukkha Samudaya (cause of suffering)
  • Dukkha Nirodha (cessation of suffering)
  • Dukkha Nirodha Gamini Patipada (pathway to freedom from suffering)

    According to Buddhist scholar A.K. Warder, the Theravada “spread rapidly south from Avanti into Maharastra and Andhra and down to the Chola country (Kanchi), as well as Ceylon. For sometime they maintained themselves in Avanti as well as in their new territories, but gradually they tended to regroup themselves in the south, the Great Vihara (Mahavihara) in Anuradhapura, the capital of Ceylon, become the main centre of their tradition, Kanchi a secondary center and the northern regions apparently relinquished to other schools."

    There is little information about the later history of Theravada Buddhism in India, and it is not known when it disappeared in its country of origin.

    There have been modern developments in Theravada Buddhism: modernism, to adapt to the modern world and adopt some of its ideas which include:

  • green movement
  • syncretism with other Buddhist traditions
  • women's rights
  • gay rights

    Reformism: attempts to restore a supposed earlier, ideal state of Buddhism; includes in particular the adoption of Western scholars' theories of original Buddhism (in recent times the "Western scholarly interpretation of Buddhism" is the official Buddhism prevailing in Sri Lanka and Thailand.

    Ultimatism: tendency to concentrate on advanced teachings such as the Four Noble Truths at the expense of more elementary ones. neotraditionalism; includes among other things, revival of ritualism and remythologization.

  • insight meditation
  • social action
  • devotional religiosity
  • reaction to Buddhist nationalism
  • renewal of forest monks
  • revival of samatha meditation

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