Buddhism in the modern world

Theravāda Buddhism remains strong in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Burma, although in Burma Buddhist monks were involved in the attempted uprising of 2007, and reports suggest that many were killed in its suppression.

Buddhism was decimated by the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia during the 1970s, when all monks were forced to disrobe and tens of thousands were killed. It has since been re-established, but remains but in a much weakened form, as it is in Laos. The Theravāda order of nuns died out in the 12th or 13th century. Theravāda Buddhism was re-established in India in the 1950s by the social reformer B.R. Ambedkar.

Mahāyāna Buddhism is strong in Japan and retains a considerable presence in South Korea (although Buddhist activity is strictly limited in communist North Korea). There has been hardly any Buddhist activity in China since the religious prohibitions of the cultural revolution.

Both Mahāyāna (Zen and Pure Land) and Theravāda are today found in Vietnam, despite the declined under the Vietnam war and communist rule. There is also a small Theravāda presence.

Tibetan Buddhism was almost totally destroyed by the Chinese during the cultural revolution: most monasteries were sacked and tens of thousands of monks and nuns were either killed or imprisoned. Tibetan communities have reformed in exile, particularly in India and along the Himalayas in Nepal. Bhutan has managed to retain its Tibetan Buddhist traditions without much change in modern times.

Many schools of Theravāda and Mahāyāna Buddhism can now be found in the West. Tibetan Buddhism is particularly prominent, because of the forced departure of many of its teachers from Tibet.


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