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Buddhism and Violence, a Rare Combination:

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About Buddhism:

Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world, after Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism.

Most Buddhists are Atheists in that they have no belief in a God, a Goddess, or pantethon of deities. Even though many dictionaries and religious groups define the term "religion" as requiring a belief in at least one deity, Buddhism is still universally recognized as one of the great world religions.

Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama during the 5th Century BCE. He was an Indian prince who was born in Lumbini, in what is present-day Nepal. He was profoundly affected by observing the suffering of others. He taught that the purpose of life is to end suffering and develop a compassion for humans and all other living species. 1 Buddhism became the official religion of India during the 3rd Century BCE. It spread through Asia and reached Japan, Laos, Indonesia, etc.

With an emphasis on ending suffering and developing compassion, one woud expect Buddhism to be a very peaceful religion. Throughout its history, this has been true. However, there have been two recent exceptions.

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2016 to 2018 and continuing: Violence against Muslims in Myanmar:


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2018: Violence against Muslims in Sri Lanka:

Sri Lanka is a country in a large island immediately to the south of India in the Indian Ocean. In the North and in one area on the East coast of the island, Hindus who speak the Tamil language form the majority and number about three million. About 60 million Tamils also live in India. In most of the rest of Sri Lanka, the majority religion is Buddhism. Some Muslims and Christians are also present.

Starting during the 1970s, Tamils advocated for an independent state on the Northern and Eastern areas of the island. It would be called Eelam where they would form a Hindu majority. Elsewhere in Sri Lanka, the the ruling majority are Sinhalese -- who are mostly Buddhist . A Hindu fighting group, the LIberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (a.k.a. Tamil Tigers) was organized in 1976. A vicious civil war broke out.

Conflict escalated in 1983 and resulted in the death of about 65,000 people over the next 19 years. 1 One innovation introduced by the Tamil Tigers was the suicide vest, later used with such success during unrelated terrorist attacks in the Middle East.

Hostilities ended in 2009-MAY when the leadership of the Tamil Tigers were mostly killed and the group was disbanded. More details.

The country was in relative peace for almost a decade. However, during 2018-JUL, new violence broke out in Kandi, a city in central Sri Lanka, after a Buddist Singhalese truck driver was killed by four Muslim youths.

According to Gulf News:

"In the years since the war ended in 2009, a religious divide has grown, with the rise of hard-line Buddhist groups that stoke anger against minority Muslims."

Buddhist mobs swept through Muslim neighborhoods destroying stores and restaurants. More details.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Sociology 101: Nontheism: Hinduism, Buddhism & Confucianism,", 2003-2018, at:

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Original posting: 2018-JUL-27
Latest update : 2018-JUL-27
Author: B.A. Robinson

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