GAUTAMA BUDDHA is revered as the founder and one of the principal teachers of the Buddhist religion.  He probably founded a monastic order and lived and taught on the eastern border of the Indian subcontinent.  The dates of his life are controversial: estimates range from 560 to 380 BC, with a majority of scholars favoring dates in the sixth century BC.  He wrote no surviving texts, and teachings attributed to him circulated as oral tradition for centuries before they were committed to writing.

     The Pāli Canon of Theravadan Buddhism is traditionally dated to 39 BC; however commentaries on these texts first appear in the fifth century AD. Fragments of the Chinese Buddhist canon are attested in the seventh century AD, but manuscripts exist only from the fifteenth century, with some suggestions of earlier complete texts from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

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