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History



Early Developments

Continental southeast Asia had formerly been home to a variety of Brahmanical and Buddhist traditions including Mahayana and Vajrayana as well as Theravada, but between the 11th and 14th centuries Theravada became the established religion of Burma, Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos.

Schisms and Sects

A series of reform and revival movements led to the establishment of national hierarchies and multiple ordination lineages in the Theravada countries.

Missions and Expansion

Theravadins have incorporated several indigenous religious traditions as well as Mahayana, Vajrayana, and Brahmanical elements into their practice of Buddhism.

Exploration and Conquest

Buddhism has become intimately tied to royal authority and national identity in Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos, sometimes in ways that are in tension with Buddhist values of detachment and non-violence.

Modern Age

Since the 19th century, Theravada has included strong modernist movements emphasizing values of rationalism, individualism, and ecumenism. Many contemporary leaders promote meditation, including meditation by laypeople, and attempt to apply Buddhist principles to social and political action.