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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Buddhist Studies: Home

A guide for those beginning Buddhist Studies

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This guide was created by Rebecca Stover GA for HPNL Fall 2021

Buddhism originated in the area around the Indus River in Kapilavasthu (now in Nepal and the region of India bordering Nepal) sometime between the 6th century and 4th century BCE before spreading through much of Asia. According to Buddhist tradition the Prince Siddhartha Gautama (5th/4th century BCE) after years of meditation and ascetic practices became awakened as to the true nature of things--understanding that this world of cyclical existence (death and rebirth) is suffering and the only way out is through the realization of that and the achievement of nirvana, went on to teach and build a community along the Ganges Plain    

Buddhism spread mainly through three paths, Northern Buddhism, which passed through central Asia, via the Silk Road to China, Korea, and Japan; Southern Buddhism transmitted to Sri Lanka, Thailand, and S.E. Asia; and Tibetan Buddhism which was spread around 7th century.

When Shakyamuni Buddha was alive, Buddhist teachings were passed down to disciples through oral means. After the Buddha died, the disciples collected the contents of the Buddha’s teachings and the Buddhist Scriptures were developed in India. Buddhism encompasses a variety of beliefs, traditions, spiritual practices, and resulting interpretative philosophies based on the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha. 

"Seven Forms of Avalokitesvara (Kannon Bosatsu), Vol. 6 of the Iconographic Compendium (Zuzōshō) , 1973.65.A,” Harvard Art Museums collections online, Sep 21, 2021,

"Seated Buddha with Right Hand in Varada Mudra and Left Hand Holding a Covered Jar , 1989.57,” Harvard Art Museums collections online, Sep 21, 2021,

Librarian Information


Celestina Savonius-Wroth, Ph.D.
Religious Studies Librarian
(217) 300-3520
246 Main Library