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The Growth of Buddhism

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.


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