28. Ethical Thought in Indian Buddhism

  1. Steven M. Emmanuel
  1. Christopher W. Gowans

Published Online: 5 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118324004.ch28

A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy

A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy

How to Cite

Gowans, C. W. (2013) Ethical Thought in Indian Buddhism, in A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy (ed S. M. Emmanuel), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118324004.ch28

Author Information

  1. Fordham University, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 5 FEB 2013
  2. Published Print: 25 MAR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470658772

Online ISBN: 9781118324004



  • Buddha;
  • ethics;
  • Indian Buddhism;
  • Mahāyāna Buddhism


Buddhist thought flourished in India for well over a thousand years after the life of the Buddha around the fifth century BCE. During this time there were many diverse developments, but for the purpose of the overview in this chapter, two central traditions will be featured. The first centers on the original teaching of the Buddha as represented in a set of texts written in Pāli called the “Three Baskets”. The second tradition is rooted in a set of texts written in Sanskrit called the “Perfection of Wisdom Sūtras” that began to emerge a few centuries later, around the beginning of the new millennium. These texts constitute the historical heart of Mahāyāna Buddhism. This chapter demonstrates that in both traditions Buddhist thought in India was fundamentally concerned with ethical values.