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Pariyatti Timeline

At this “hinge of history” that we occupy—the arising of the Second Sāsana—the teaching of the Buddha is available to untold numbers of people. We may take for granted the proliferation of Dhamma practice centers and resources for Dhamma study, and the unprecedented means to find them. Only 70 years ago, practice of the Noble Eightfold Path was confined to a tiny number of renunciates and aspirants in a few countries. Computers, the internet, cell phones, online libraries, websites, social networks, eBooks—harbingers of the Digital Age—were unimagined. The flowering of “numerous arts and sciences to serve human needs under the canopy of civilization” that we live in, is a fleeting wonderment.

The timeline below features noteworthy events of pariyatti (theoretical knowledge of the Buddha’s teaching) as well as examples of advances in communications. Not intending to be comprehensive, we offer this timeline as food for thought and to underscore the great good fortune of our era. For a blink in cosmological time, the possibility of freedom from samsāra is robustly alive and able to be conveyed and dispersed to vast numbers through a myriad of carriers; in this dispensation Pariyatti (the non-profit organization) has its role to play.

“May all beings be able to muster immense zeal!”

A selective timeline of pariyatti

  • c 563 to 483 BCE—Life of Gotama Buddha: in 45 years of teaching the Dhamma the Enlightened One is said to have given over 84,000 discourses
  • 483 BCE—First Council convened outside Rājagaha 3 months afterMahāparinibbāṇa of the Buddha; first compilation of authenticated Pāli Canon (known as Tipiṭaka—literally, “three baskets,” also translated as “three treasuries”)
  • 483 BCE to 1954—Second Council through Fifth Councils were held to recite, redact and authenticate the Tipiṭaka for prosperity. Second in Vesāli, India; Third in Paṭaliputta, India, under the auspices of Emperor Asoka; Fourth in Tambapaṇṇi, Sri Lanka; Fifth in Mandalay, under the auspices of King Mindon. More info.
  • c 1871—Completion of “the world’s largest book” in Mandalay: contemporaneous with Fifth Council, entire Pāli Tipiṭaka inscribed on 729 marble slabs at Kuthodaw Pagoda. Historic temple intact and a place of reverence to this day.
  • 1881Pali Text Society (PTS) founded in Oxford, England to foster and promote the study of Pāli texts
  • 1900—Printed copy of Pāli Tipiṭaka published (in 38 volumes of 400 pages each) by Hanthawaddy Press, Burma (established 1879); described as “true copies of the Piṭaka inscribed on stones by King Mindon”
  • 1944—One of the first computers (Harvard Mark I) is designed
  • 1952 to 1963—The Union of Burma Buddha Sāsana Council in Rangoon publishes The Light of the Dhamma magazine; a sister publication The Light of Buddha is published from 1956 to 1965 in Mandalay
  • 1954 to 1956—Sixth Council (Chaṭṭha Saṅgāyana) convened in Rangoon 2,500 years after Mahāparinibbāṇa; publishes authenticated Tipiṭaka and Commentaries in printed books
  • 1955—Date recognized by many Theravādins as the beginning of the SecondSāsana (arising of the teaching of the Buddha)
  • 1955—S.N. Goenka takes first Vipassana course under Sayagyi U Ba Khin at International Meditation Center (IMC) in Rangoon
  • 1958Buddhist Publication Society (BPS) founded in Kandy, Sri Lanka “to make known the teachings of the Buddha”; becomes a leading publisher of Theravāda works in English, publishing over 800 titles
  • 1969—S.N. Goenka travels from Burma to India to teach Vipassana; he carries printed Chaṭṭha Saṅgāyana Tipiṭaka books, thereby bringing both paṭipatti(practice) and pariyatti (scriptures)
  • 1969—ARPANET (the precursor to the internet) is created
  • 1973—First cell phone is invented
  • 1985Vipassana Research Institute (VRI) is established in Igatpuri, India to conduct research into sources and applications of Vipassana
  • 1986—Pariyatti Book Service is started in California to import books from India and Sri Lanka on Buddha’s teaching for North American meditators
  • 1986—First book on nanotechnology is published
  • 1990—VRI starts project to publish Tipiṭaka and Commentaries in Devanagiri script
  • 1992—Electronic Buddhist Text Initiative started in Berkeley CA, to assist digital preservation and organization of Buddhist canonical texts
  • 1993Access to Insight starts, growing into free online Theravāda library offering over 1,000 suttas and hundreds of articles
  • c 1994—VRI makes Chaṭṭha Saṅgāyana Tipiṭaka CD-ROM available free of charge; sets of Tipiṭaka books in Devanagari script (over 100 volumes each) are printed for free distribution to monasteries, universities, meditation centers, temples, libraries
  • 1995—Vipassana Research Publications of America (VRPA) is started in Seattle, sanctioned by S.N. Goenka; mission to make Vipassana literature more available in West through importing of Pāli Tipiṭaka books (for free distribution to scholars) and English-language titles from VRI
  • 1996—VRPA purchases Pariyatti Book Service; new book publication and import entity is incorporated as Pariyatti
  • 1997 to 1999—Pariyatti becomes North American distributor of Buddhist Publication Society (BPS); Pariyatti and BPS co-publishes first of series of classic titlesVisuddhimagga, the Path of Purification
  • c 2000—Entire Tipiṭaka and Commentaries in 14 scripts available to anyone in the world with access to the internet (www.Tipitaka.org)
  • 2000—Wikipedia is created
  • 2002—Pariyatti becomes North American distributor for Pāli Text Society; Pariyatti has largest North American inventory of PTS titles and one of world’s largest English-language Theravāda collections
  • 2004—Facebook is created
  • 2005 to present—Pariyatti’s expanding online resources “Treasures of Pariyatti” offers permanent repository of and free access to Dhamma literature in danger of being lost; painstaking optical character recognition technology allows rare copies of The Light of the Dhamma and The Light of Buddha to be preserved
  • 2010—Vipassana centers in tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin as taught by S.N. Goenka offer over 2,000 10-day Vipassana courses annually, and serve about 120,000 people annually. 
  • Present—Buddhist Publication Society continues digitization of extensive parts of its collection for free online access (at BPS Online Library and accesstoinsight.org)
  • Present—In continuous service since 1881, Pāli Text Society: publishes Pāli texts in Roman script, English translations, and ancillary works including dictionaries and concordance; keeps nearly all its publications in print; provides research scholarships in Pāli studies in various countries; supports the Fragile Palm Leaves Project (identification and preservation of Southeast Asian manuscripts)
  • PresentVipassana Research Institute continues research into Pāli texts and personal effects of Vipassana meditation; many titles are available via free download; monthly newsletter in Hindi and English has 25,000 subscribers worldwide
  • 2012 January 19—41st anniversary of demise of Sayagyi U Ba Khin (1899 to 1971) who proclaimed: “The time-clock of Vipassana has now struck!” and “May all beings be able to muster immense zeal!”