Theravāda Buddhism

The term ‘Theravāda Buddhism’ commonly refers to the school of Buddhist practice dominant in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos. Theravāda is translated as ‘the doctrine of the elders’, and it is often perceived as the earliest school of Buddhism in practice today, emphasising tradition, monastic lineage, and connection to the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. Authority is typically given to the texts that form the ‘Pāli Canon’, also known as the ‘Tripiṭaka’, or ‘triple basket’ of knowledge. These texts are divided into ‘sutta’ (teachings of the Buddha), ‘vinaya’ (monastic discipline), and ‘abidhamma’ (philosophy). Yet this simple overview of the Theravāda tradition glosses over a contextual diversity of thought and practice. According to current scholarship, the term ‘Theravāda’ rose to prominence from the 19th century ...

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