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The Tāmraśāṭīya (Sanskrit: ताम्रशाटीय), also called Tāmraparṇīya (Sanskrit; Pali: Tambapaṇṇiya) was one of the early schools of Buddhism and a branch of the Vibhajyavāda school based in Sri Lanka. It is thought that the Theravāda tradition has its origins in this school.

Translations of
(Pinyin: Hóngyībù
(rōmaji: Shakudōyōbu)
(romaji: Kōibu
(RR: Jeogdongseobbu)
(Wylie: gos dmar sde)
(THL: gö mar dé
VietnameseXích Đồng Diệp Bộ
Glossary of Buddhism

Its sutras were written mainly in Pali; and the Pali canon of Buddhism largely borrowed from this school.[1] The Tāmraśāṭīya is also known as the Southern transmission or Mahaviharavasin tradition.[1][2] This contrasts with Sarvastivada or the 'Northern transmission', which was mostly written in Sanskrit and translated into Chinese and Tibetic languages.[1]

The Tamrashatiya tradition developed into Theravada Buddhism and spread into Myanmar, Thailand, and other parts of Southeast Asia.[2]



Several etymologies are given for the name of this school.

Tāmra is a Sanskrit term referring to the color of red copper, describing the color of the monks' robes. Based on the standard Chinese translation of the term, it has also been suggested that "copper" refers to copper plates on which the Tripitaka was written.[3]

Tāmraparṇi was also an old name for Sri Lanka, and the origin of the Greek equivalent Taprobana, possibly referring to the monks who established Buddhism here.[4]


The Tāmraśāṭīya school was established in modern-day Sri Lanka in the city of Anuradhapura, but also remained active in Andhra and other parts of South India, such as Vanavasa in modern Karnataka, and later across South-East Asia.

The school survived in Sri Lanka and established three main branches:[5]

According to the Mahavamsa the latter two traditions were suppressed and destroyed after the Mahāvihāra tradition gained political power.[7]

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit


  1. ^ a b c Hahn, Thich Nhat (2015). The Heart of Buddha's Teachings. Harmony. pp. 13–16.
  2. ^ a b "History of Buddhism – Xuanfa Institute". Retrieved 2019-06-23.
  3. ^ Cheng, Chuan (May 2012). "Designations of Ancient Sri Lankan Buddhism in the Chinese Tripiṭaka". Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. 2: 104–123. ISSN 2047-1076.
  4. ^ 赤沼智善『印度佛教固有名詞辭典』1967, 679頁; Renou, L'Inde classique, 1947『インド学大事典』1981, 466; B. C. Law, Geography of early Buddhism, 1973, 70頁
  5. ^ 慧日佛學班.第5期課程"印度佛教史"
  6. ^ Abhayagirivasins
  7. ^ The Mahavamsa Chapter XXXVII King Mahasena