The present day Theravāda tradition of Buddhism,
represented by the Buddhist sangha in Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Burma (Myamar), Thailand, Laos, Cambodia
and areas directly bordering these countries, represent the tradition of Buddhism which
most closely resembles the Buddhist Sangha at the time of the Buddha.
Their doctrine, based upon the Pāli Suttas, is quite literally what
the Buddha said, and propagates the "Arhat" ideal of striving for one's personal
enlightenment as the goal of meditation by means of realizing the inherent emptiness of one's own "self".
The Theravāda doctrine was systematized immediately after the Buddha's Mahāparinirvana in ca. 483 BCE
and was divided into three collections - "Tripiţaka" (literally "three Baskets") -
The Sutta Piţaka, The Vinaya Piţaka, and the Abhidhamma Piţaka.
These collections were memorized by succesive groups of monks and several hundred years
later were written onto palm leaves.
Most recently the entire Piţakas have been digitalized and are available
in the the Pāli language.
The links below refer to pages which contain information about the historical Buddha and the original sangha as well as general
information which should be of interest to Theravādins as well as members of other buddhist schools.
The linked pages show historical information about Sakiyamuni Buddha, his predecessors, his family, the prevailing
geographical and political environment of the time, as well as details of the the early Theravāda Sangha.
Additionally links to pages showing later developments of the Theravāda School are shown.