When was the Buddha born?

When was the Buddha most likely born?


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Feb 2019
611
Thrace
I understand this topic is heavily debated and most likely will never have a factual number put in front of it, but what I'm interested is the general consensus among historians at the moment. On wikipedia it says:

"Scholars are hesitant to make unqualified claims about the historical facts of the Buddha's life. Most people accept that the Buddha lived, taught, and founded a monastic order during the Mahajanapada era during the reign of Bimbisara (c. 558 – c. 491 BCE, or c. 400 BCE), the ruler of the Magadha empire, and died during the early years of the reign of Ajatasatru, who was the successor of Bimbisara, thus making him a younger contemporary of Mahavira, the Jain tirthankara. While the general sequence of "birth, maturity, renunciation, search, awakening and liberation, teaching, death" is widely accepted, there is less consensus on the veracity of many details contained in traditional biographies.

The times of Gautama's birth and death are uncertain. Most historians in the early 20th century dated his lifetime as c. 563 BCE to 483 BCE. More recently his death is dated later, between 411 and 400 BCE, while at a symposium on this question held in 1988, the majority of those who presented definite opinions gave dates within 20 years either side of 400 BCE for the Buddha's death. These alternative chronologies, however, have not been accepted by all historians."

So basically most historians now prefer 480 BC as his birth date, instead of 563 BC?
 

heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,486
Already done a topic on this.
The traditional date in western scholarship is based on the Theravada (southern) tradition text Dipavamsa, which dates the reign of Ashoka to 218 years after the death of Buddha. However, Japanese scholars, who could read Chinese challenged this through citing the biography of Asoka (Ashokadana) and the abhidarma of the eighteen sects (preserved in Chinese) from the northern tradition, both states that the Buddha is only around a century before Asoka, the later source is even more specific in saying that Ashoka was 116 years after the Buddha reached nirvana. This would mean the Buddha died around 387 BC. Since the Dipavamsa is written in the forth century and the other two sources were written in the 1st centuries BC and AD, the later have more authenticity. Furthermore, there are chronological problems with the dating of Dipavamsa. It states that kalasoka was over a century after the Buddha, yet Kalasoka's father Susunaga was the first king of the Haryanka dynasty whereas Bimbisara was the forth. Since Buddha was a contemporary of Bimbisara, he can't be a century before Kalasoka who was the ancestor of Bimbisara.

The influential monk scholar Yinshun thinks that the ten kings of Susunaga existed at the same time as Nanda and were both destroyed by the Mauryan Empire and that Ashoka was mistakened for Kalasoka as two different kings in the Dipamvasa. This mean 100 years is entirely possible and this also accounts for why Kalasoka was said to be 100 years after the Buddha died whereas in sources like the biography of Asoka (Asokadana) it was said to be Asoka who was 100 years after Buddha's Nirvana.
 
Mar 2019
1,809
KL
buddha was not born in neither dates, he was born in 630 BC - 550 BC according to the buddhist traditions

the date of 550 BC is based on mahavamsa of buddhist srilanka, a source which itself id debunked by buddhist traditions and the source is from 5th century AD, a long time after the buddha himself.

a stupa excavated from nalanda/ a sacred buddhist site has been scientifically dated to 6-5th century BC, The nandas also existed in the 5th century BC, i think their dates are also based on mahavamsa despite, puranas also date them to the 5th century BC.

regards
 
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Mar 2019
1,809
KL
he can't be a century before Kalasoka who was the ancestor of Bimbisara.

The influential monk scholar Yinshun thinks that the ten kings of Susunaga existed at the same time as Nanda and were both destroyed by the Mauryan Empire and that Ashoka was mistakened for Kalasoka as two different kings in the Dipamvasa. This mean 100 years is entirely possible and this also accounts for why Kalasoka was said to be 100 years after the Buddha died whereas in sources like the biography of Asoka (Asokadana) it was said to be Asoka who was 100 years after Buddha's Nirvana.
to suggest there were two contemporary dynasties of Shishunaga and Nanda at the same time would negate the very facts that during the haryanka the magadhans already had expanded outward and included foreign territories of their neighbouring kingdoms, hence would already have entire magadh region. Nandas had expanded to become an empire and a contemporary dynasty existing in magadh alone would be oxymoronic.

regards
 
Last edited:
Feb 2019
15
UK
It would be an inconclusive debate as each side would interpret and calculate it from the different sources . At the moment I would be more keen on the political structure and states during Lord Buddha's lifetime . If something like another mogao cave found with near comtemporary sources would be discovered , then we might know .

 
Feb 2019
611
Thrace
Already done a topic on this.
The traditional date in western scholarship is based on the Theravada (southern) tradition text Dipavamsa, which dates the reign of Ashoka to 218 years after the death of Buddha. However, Japanese scholars, who could read Chinese challenged this through citing the biography of Asoka (Ashokadana) and the abhidarma of the eighteen sects (preserved in Chinese) from the northern tradition, both states that the Buddha is only around a century before Asoka, the later source is even more specific in saying that Ashoka was 116 years after the Buddha reached nirvana. This would mean the Buddha died around 387 BC. Since the Dipavamsa is written in the forth century and the other two sources were written in the 1st centuries BC and AD, the later have more authenticity. Furthermore, there are chronological problems with the dating of Dipavamsa. It states that kalasoka was over a century after the Buddha, yet Kalasoka's father Susunaga was the first king of the Haryanka dynasty whereas Bimbisara was the forth. Since Buddha was a contemporary of Bimbisara, he can't be a century before Kalasoka who was the ancestor of Bimbisara.

The influential monk scholar Yinshun thinks that the ten kings of Susunaga existed at the same time as Nanda and were both destroyed by the Mauryan Empire and that Ashoka was mistakened for Kalasoka as two different kings in the Dipamvasa. This mean 100 years is entirely possible and this also accounts for why Kalasoka was said to be 100 years after the Buddha died whereas in sources like the biography of Asoka (Asokadana) it was said to be Asoka who was 100 years after Buddha's Nirvana.
What about this source:

The Jains

It says on page 24: "...as is now almost universally accepted by informed Indological scholarship, a re-examination of early Buddhist historical material, [...], necessitates a redating of the Buddha's death to between 411 and 400 BCE"

What do you think of the 400 BC dating of his death, and why do you think there is a growing consensus among historians regarding this?
 

heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,486
to suggest there were two contemporary dynasties of Shishunaga and Nanda at the same time would negate the very facts that during the haryanka the magadhans already had expanded outward and included foreign territories of their neighbouring kingdoms, hence would already have entire magadh region. Nandas had expanded to become an empire and a contemporary dynasty existing in magadh alone would be oxymoronic.

regards
You do realize that most of your "facts" rely upon Buddhist records themselves, the fact that Buddhist records are problematic means that the entirety of pre-Mauryan history of India needs to be reexamined, not the other way around.


buddha was not born in neither dates, he was born in 630 BC - 550 BC according to the buddhist traditions

the date of 550 BC is based on mahavamsa of buddhist srilanka, a source which itself id debunked by buddhist traditions and the source is from 5th century AD, a long time after the buddha himself.

a stupa excavated from nalanda/ a sacred buddhist site has been scientifically dated to 6-5th century BC, The nandas also existed in the 5th century BC, i think their dates are also based on mahavamsa despite, puranas also date them to the 5th century BC.

regards
I already told you there are two Buddhist tradition, the earlier date depends on the Southern tradition recorded in the Dipamvamsa, a 4th century source. The later date that Buddha died around the beginning of the 4th century BC is from the Northern tradition, recorded in sources such as the Ashokadana and the abhidarma of the eighteen sects, recorded in the 1st century AD. Considering the later source is earlier, its natural that it is more reliable (as I said, there are also inconsistencies with the southern tradition). Stupas can mean anything, it doesn't mean it has to be directly related to Buddhism or its founder.
 
Mar 2019
1,809
KL
You do realize that most of your "facts" rely upon Buddhist records themselves, the fact that Buddhist records are problematic means that the entirety of pre-Mauryan history of India needs to be reexamined, not the other way around.
nope, the pre mauryan facts are independently varified by atleast six sources

  1. puranas
  2. buddhist texts
  3. jain texts
  4. inscriptions such as hathigumpha inscriptions/ mentions nanda era by name
  5. dates such as sri harsha period, recorded in various indian inscriptions
  6. coins and other archaeology
stupa would also mean buddhism, and as i stated, nalanda was a buddhist site, it has never been any other site, hinduism, nor jainism, there is also dating of maya devi temple, read about it, also varifies buddhist dating.

im not aware of northern or southern traditions, but the theravada tradition is considered more ancient and more reliable, hence theravada dating of 540 BC makes sense. mahavamsa which the date of 483 BC is based upon is a srilankan source which is not reliable.

regards
 
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heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,486
nope, the pre mauryan facts are independently varified by atleast six sources

  1. puranas
  2. buddhist texts
  3. jain texts
  4. inscriptions such as hathigumpha inscriptions/ mentions nanda era by name
  5. dates such as sri harsha period, recorded in various indian inscriptions
  6. coins and other archaeology

None of these except Buddhist texts gives a detailed chronology of the Susunaga and Haryanka dynasty at the same time (forget the fact that there are no evidence of written records before the 3rd century BC at all, nor does coins pinpoint dates; we are not even sure of the dating for Kushan rulers through coins and inscriptions, let alone earlier kings, and we largely rely upon Buddhist dating for anything remotely detailed). There are no decisive evidence Jain texts were even contemporary nor is Kalashoka mentioned in any text other than the Dipavamsa (its not even mentioned in any texts of the Northern Buddhist tradition). If you say otherwise I'll like to see the passages in these sources and such a chronology.


stupa would also mean buddhism, and as i stated, nalanda was a buddhist site, it has never been any other site, hinduism, nor jainism, there is also dating of maya devi temple, read about it, also varifies buddhist dating.
Just because stupas are generally associated with Buddhism doesn't mean it only appeared after Buddhism or the founder. Artifacts associated with a certain tradition dating before that tradition is a common archeological and historical phenomenon. Unless you can find a primary source saying it is founded by Buddhists, of which there are none, much later traditions don't mean a thing.

im not aware of northern or southern traditions, but the theravada tradition is considered more ancient and more reliable, hence theravada dating of 540 BC makes sense. mahavamsa which the date of 483 BC is based upon is a srilankan source which is not reliable.

regards
Not even close. You need to get more familiar with basic Buddhology and read my post again, for you are confusing the different traditions. Both the Dipamvamsa and Mahavamsa are of the southern tradition, neither of which are reliable. We have no conclusive evidence whether the Pali cannons, preserved by the Theravada (Southern tradition) are older than the Chinese Agamas, which is based on the Sarvastivadin, Dhamagupta and other unknown schools (northern tradition). The Pali, being preserved by just one school is more organized, but the Chinese cannons also preserved the earliest of this collection, namely the Agama (增一阿含) equivalent of the Pali Ahakavagga in the Sutta Nipata, and the majority of the Pali comes later and many can be found in their Chinese preserved counterparts, but in different organization. New studies of texts uncovered in Gandhara hints that neither the Pali nor the Chinese Agamas were any closer to the "original" and that Buddhist sutras were probably at its inception a collection of verses with no order rather than organized suttas that are passed down.The Pali Cannon, preserved by the Theravada school, now prevalent in Southeast Asia and the Agamas, preserved by the Sarvastivadin school and now prevalent in East Asia are two different schools following the same oral tradition.

The Dipavamsa is where the older date for Buddha comes from, and it dates to the 4th century. The Ashokavadana and Abhidama of the 18 sect in the Agama has been translated into Chinese since around 300 AD by the Iranian monk An Faqin and most likely dates to the 1st century BC-AD, and is hence older and more reliable than the Dipavamsa; this tradition gives a later date for Buddha's death, namely around the beginning of the 4th century BC. There are actually other traditions around, but only the two mentioned ones above are the earliest.
 
Last edited:
Mar 2019
1,809
KL
None of these except Buddhist texts gives a detailed chronology of the Susunaga and Haryanka dynasty at the same time (forget the fact that there are no evidence of written records before the 3rd century BC at all, nor does coins pinpoint dates; we are not even sure of the dating for Kushan rulers through coins and inscriptions, let alone earlier kings, and we largely rely upon Buddhist dating for anything remotely detailed). There are no decisive evidence Jain texts were even contemporary nor is Kalashoka mentioned in any text other than the Dipavamsa (its not even mentioned in any texts of the Northern Buddhist tradition). If you say otherwise I'll like to see the passages in these sources and such a chronology.




Just because stupas are generally associated with Buddhism doesn't mean it only appeared after Buddhism or the founder. Artifacts associated with a certain tradition dating before that tradition is a common archeological and historical phenomenon. Unless you can find a primary source saying it is founded by Buddhists, of which there are none, much later traditions don't mean a thing.



Not even close. You need to get more familiar with basic Buddhology and read my post again, for you are confusing the different traditions. Both the Dipamvamsa and Mahavamsa are of the southern tradition, neither of which are reliable. We have no conclusive evidence whether the Pali cannons, preserved by the Theravada (Southern tradition) are older than the Chinese Agamas, which is based on the Sarvastivadin, Dhamagupta and other unknown schools (northern tradition). The Pali, being preserved by just one school is more organized, but the Chinese cannons also preserved the earliest of this collection, namely the Agama (增一阿含) equivalent of the Pali Ahakavagga in the Sutta Nipata, and the majority of the Pali comes later and many can be found in their Chinese preserved counterparts, but in different organization. New studies of texts uncovered in Gandhara hints that neither the Pali nor the Chinese Agamas were any closer to the "original" and that Buddhist sutras were probably at its inception a collection of verses with no order rather than organized suttas that are passed down.The Pali Cannon, preserved by the Theravada school, now prevalent in Southeast Asia and the Agamas, preserved by the Sarvastivadin school and now prevalent in East Asia are two different schools following the same oral tradition.

The Dipavamsa is where the older date for Buddha comes from, and it dates to the 4th century. The Ashokavadana and Abhidama of the 18 sect in the Agama has been translated into Chinese since around 300 AD by the Iranian monk An Faqin and most likely dates to the 1st century BC-AD, and is hence older and more reliable than the Dipavamsa; this tradition gives a later date for Buddha's death, namely around the beginning of the 4th century BC. There are actually other traditions around, but only the two mentioned ones above are the earliest.
your logic and dating simply doesnt make any sense, as far as indic history is concerned, the jain tradition also dates mahavira contemporary to buddha, and the date is 527 BC, so the theravada date does agree with the jain date, jain traditions have got mark of authenticity since their texts also agree with the greek sources on Nanda empire, Jain tradition also dates nanda empire beginning to 467 BCE. this is agreed with a separate independent source like puranas as well and not to mention sri harsha date and other dates which have been inscribed on indian inscriptions for the Nandas.

to propose that the nandas and the shisunagas were contemporaries is simply hilarious and not having any grasp on the indian history in the first place. its like suggesting nandas and the mauryas were also contemporaries which will be a big comedy as well. its like han, qin, tang and song were all contemporaries, you are using the very same logic.

if the stupa is not buddhist one, what is any other explanation? what religion can a stupa signify if not buddhism? if stupa represents any prior religion, can you state the information regarding that religion? i dont think so, so the best possible explanation of stupa at nalanda is buddhism, not to mention that buddhist stupas and sacred buildings are always oriented towards a specific direction and constructed in a specific way, so if the stupa is not buddhist one, it would show in the research for the stupa itself, which im not aware of it actually has, there is also the dating of mayadevi temple which again confirms the theravada dating as well, again the most probable explanation of mayadevi temple is its buddhist affiliation, there simply isnt any other explanation, this is a thorough archaeological research done by imminent archaeologists.

the rest of the late dating crap is not surprising, the archaeology keeps pushing the date back, whereas the western scholars refuse to simply entertain archaeological date and keep pushing the date forward just because of their eurocentric colonial predetermined disposition of late dating indian history and doubting it and nothing else. A prime example is keep pushing late dating for indian coins, late dating for Kausambi fortifications, the carbon dating conducted on sites like sisupalgarh and reliquaries like Bimaran casquet have infact pushed the dates backwards not forwards. The western stubborness to disregard archaeology and its dating is without a doubt based more on their agenda then anything else.

regards
 
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