After the death of the Buddha, the movement continued to grow. Buddhism's growth received support from the emperor of
India, Asoka (299-237 BCE). Asoka converted to Buddhism after he became
disgusted with the cruelty of war. He had inscriptions of Buddhist teachings
set up throughout India, and sent missionaries beyond India to share the
Buddha's teachings. Ultimately, the teachings of the Buddha were carried
into China and throughout Southeast Asia.
As it took root in diverse locations and cultures, Buddhism
became more diverse. Buddhism
divides into two main branches: Theravada and Mahayana. Both groups agree on the basics of the Buddha's teachings in the
Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold path. Furthermore, they agree on the
Buddha's understanding of karma and Nirvana. Beyond this fundamental
agreements, however, there developed very different understandings of the
Buddha and his teachings.