Criticism of History of buddhism

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For criticism see Criticism of Criticism of History of buddhism
See also History of buddhism

The article History of buddhism is an indiscriminate mixture of facts, legends and theories. Some of the theories are now discredited; others have never been taken seriously by reputable historians. Only the most egregious points are covered here. For more information contradicting History of buddhism see History of Buddhism, which attempts to summarize the views of mainstream historians.

Life of the Buddha

Mostly legend.

Early Buddhism

"These became the basis of the Tripitaka, which is preserved in Pali, Chinese, and Tibetan, and has been the orthodox text of reference throughout the history of Buddhism."

This is highly misleading, bordering on false. In fact the three Tripitakas, in Pali, Chinese and Tibetan, are quite different, though they have some overlap.[1]

Asokan proselytism

Hellenistic world

Mostly fringe theories.The weirdest is the statement about Buddhism in ancient Britain. The source is a book published more than 80 years ago. The review in the American Journal of Archaeology (Second Series, Volume XXXIII, 1929, page 457; review by Harold H. Bender) summarizes its arguments thus:

  • inscriptions of the Emperor Asoka say he sent Buddhist missionaries as far afield as Epirus and Macedonia [some scholars indeed interpret the inscriptions thus, though others disagree]
  • Celts were spread from Britain to near the above areas [undisputed]
  • thus Buddhism could have spread to Britain
  • there are iconographic similarities between some Celtic artefacts and some Buddhist ones
  • Origen refers to Buddhists in ancient Britain [unfortunately, the author gives neither an exact citation nor an original-language text, making it impossible for readers to check whether Origen really says this]

The reviewer says philologists, at least, will not be convinced.

Note also

  • the article "Europe, Buddhism in" in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Buddhism (pages 348ff) makes no mention of this
  • the article "Europe" in the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (Volume One, pages 266ff) makes no mention of this


  1. Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2004, pages 111ff, 755f; Routledge Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2007, page 765