Resources: Buddhism and Religious Pluralism

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Texts from the Pāḷi Tipiṭaka

Contains selected passages from the Pāli Tipitaka in English and  Pāli dealing with the Buddhist attitude to religious pluralism.

 Texts relating to King Asoka

A document with translations by Ven. Shravasti Dhammika of the rock edicts by the Buddhist Emperor Asoka from the 3rd century BCE.

Bhikkhu Buddhadasa: “Interfaith Understanding in the Buddhist-Christian Dialogue   Buddhadasa Bhikkhu (Thai: พุทธทาสภิกขุ, May 27, 1906 – May 25, 1993) was a famous and influential ascetic-philosopher of the 20th century. Known as an innovative reinterpreter of Buddhist doctrine, Buddhadasa fostered a reformation in conventional religious perceptions in his home country, Thailand, as well as abroad.

John Macransky: “Buddhist Perspectives on Truth in Other Religions: Past and Present” .   “Contemporary Buddhist scholars who relate Buddhist truth to other religions continue to draw upon the two basic paradigms described: scholastic critique of others’ religious concepts, or inclusion of the other through a Buddhist understanding of skillful means.

Mahinda Palihawadana: “Critical Tolerance”: The Option for Buddhists in Multi-Cultural Societies.   This paper examines whether there could be any scriptural justification for persons who profess to be Buddhists to take an aggressive, intolerant attitude to ‘others’ living amongst them. The evidence of the conduct of the Buddha himself is discussed, as are also the widespread call to abandon anger and resentment; the refusal to be dogmatic; the invitation that the teaching be intelligently examined; the practice of courteously examining and discussing other viewpoints; the rejection of exclusive claims to truth; the assertion that understanding cannot be imposed from without but has to be won by personal insight; the ardent advocacy of compassion and loving-kindness to all. It is shown that tradition; culture, language and even “free speech” cannot be taken as sacrosanct absolutes. Hence while being necessarily tolerant, Buddhism encourages its followers to critically examine doctrines and beliefs to test their worth and truthfulness, though never in a spirit of competition or acrimony. It is observed that whilst Buddhists, like all human beings, have failed to live by the values inherent in such teachings, they have also, by and large, avoided the great excesses of intolerance that have been witnessed in the history of humankind.

Bhikkhu Bodhi: Tolerance and Diversity   Bhikkhu Bodhi (Jeffrey Block), Ph.D., is an American Buddhist monk and Pali scholar. After completing his university studies in philosophy at the Claremont Graduate School, he traveled to Sri Lanka, where he received full ordination in 1973 under the late Ven. Ananda Maitreya. He served as editor of the Buddhist Publication Society (Sri Lanka) from 1984-1988 and and has been its president since 1988. He is currently the president of the Sangha Council of Bodhi Monastery (USA) and the chairman of the Yin Shun Foundation.


Bhikkhu Bodhi: On tolerance of criticism: Brahmajāla Sutta The All Embracing Net of Views. Buddhist Publication Society, 1978, Sri Lanka.

King Asoka’s Rock Edict XII In N.A. Nikam and Richard McKeon (1962): The Edicts of Asoka. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Rajeev Bhargava (2014): “Beyond Toleration: Civility and Principled coexistence in Asokan Edicts”, in Boundaries of Toleration. New York: Colombia University Press.



On equanimity in debate: Cūḷasaccaka Sutta & Mahāsaccaka Sutta, in Majjhimanikāya (PTS) Vol. 1.


The Pali Tipitaka. This web site is based on the Chaṭṭha Saṅgāyana CD published by the Vipassana Research Institute.