Maps of Ancient Buddhist Asia

In this section there are 30+ maps of places in Ancient Asia to help as a reference for those interested in understanding the geography and history presented in Buddhist texts and history. A number of them have been prepared especially for this section, and others accompany particular texts and translations that are presented elsewhere on this website. The intention is to add to this section as and when the need arises. I have included modern place names in some of the maps so as to help orientate the reader, who may not be familiar with the geography of Asia. I have also annotated the maps to give sources and further relevant information that could not be included elsewhere.

I have now given a a number of talks based on these maps, and then made videos out of them, including additional information and photographs, etc. where relevant. They can be accessed on YouTube:

  1. The Early Life of the Buddha
  2. The Last Year of the Buddha's Life
  3. Asoka and the Missions
  4. The Spread of Buddhism through Asia
  5. Representing the Buddha

My main sources for information in compiling the maps, besides the traditional Texts, Commentaries and Chronicles, have been the following:

Many other books have incidental information, including the various annotated translations I have consulted during the course of this work. I am particularly grateful to Bhante S. Dhammika for checking the maps through for me and making many useful suggestions and corrections, which has helped improve them considerably.

Ānandajoti Bhikkhu
August 2012

 

PDF

 

Sāsanavaḍḍhana
The Growth of the Buddha Sāsana
(12 Maps)

Jambudīpe Boddhakalā Paraṁparā
Indian Buddhist Art Schools
(6 Maps)

Growth of Buddhism

Indian Buddhist Art Schools

 

During Lord Buddha's Time

Tathāgatassa Pure Cāritaṁ
The Buddha's Early Career

Tathāgatassa Vassā
The Realised One's Rains Retreats

Tathāgatassa Pacchimā Cārikā
The Realised One's Last Tour

The Realised One's Early Career

The Realised One's Rains Retreats

The Realised One's Last Tour

 

Sarīravibhāgo
The Distribution of the Relics

Cattāri Saṁvejanīyāni Ṭhānāni
The Four Places that Produce Enthusiasm

Bāvarissa Māṇavacārikā Jambudīpe
Bāvarī's Students' Walk across Ancient India

The Distribution of the Relics

The Four Places that Produce Enthusiasm

Bāvarī's Students' Walk across Ancient India

 

Soḷasa Mahājanapadā
The 16 Great States

Pañca Mahānadī
The Five Great Rivers

Anotattasaro ca Sinerupabbato ca
Mount Neru and Lake Anotatta

The Sixteen Great States

The Five Great Rivers

Mount Neru and Lake Anotatta

 

During King Asoka's Time

Jambudīpaṁ: Buddhato Asokassa
India: From the Buddha to Asoka

Pesanakāle Laṅkādīpe
Lanka at the time of the Missions

Northern Black Polished Ware
(7th-2nd centuries BC)

The Expansion of Magadha

Lanka at the time of the Missions

Northern Black Polished Ware

 

Asokassa Lipiyo
Asoka's Edicts

Asokassa Pesanā
Asoka's Missions

Dharmapadāni Āyatanāni
Where the Dhammapada-s were found

Asoka's Edicts

Asoka's Missions

Where the various versions of the Dhammapada-s were found

Note that these maps are approximate only. They have been made from satellite photographs, but the terrain, needless to say, has changed a great deal since Lord Buddha's time. I still hope, however, that they give students a better idea of the lands where the Buddha lived and taught.

 

For those who are interested in maps as a source of understanding history I would recommend
World History Maps
by Thomas Lessman, well-made maps which cover most periods of time.