Skip to main content

Introduction to the History of Indian Buddhism

The most influential work on Buddhism to be published in the nineteenth century, Introduction à l’histoire du Buddhisme indien, by the great French scholar of Sanskrit Eugène Burnouf, set the course for the academic study of Buddhism—and Indian Buddhism in particular—for the next hundred years. First published in 1844, the masterwork was read by some of the most important thinkers of the time, including Schopenhauer and Nietzsche in Germany and Emerson and Thoreau in America.

Katia Buffetrille and Donald S. Lopez Jr.’s expert English translation, Introduction to the History of Indian Buddhism, provides a clear view of how the religion was understood in the early decades of the nineteenth century. Burnouf was an impeccable scholar, and his vision, especially of the Buddha, continues to profoundly shape our modern understanding of Buddhism. In reintroducing Burnouf to a new generation of Buddhologists, Buffetrille and Lopez have revived a seminal text in the history of Orientalism.


“At last, after 165 years, a translation of Eugène Burnouf’s magnum opus! Katia Buffetrille and Donald Lopez make available to English readers a work from the infancy of Buddhist scholarship, and enable us to discover its remarkable precociousness, and how much we still have to learn from it.”

John Strong, Bates College

“To a considerable extent, Burnouf was responsible for first articulating the master narrative of Indian Buddhism, which retains a potent hold on our understanding of Buddhism today. . . . The translators deserve our gratitude for providing the occasion for reflecting on the foundations of this narrative, by bringing Burnouf’s great work of early Buddhist scholarship to our attention and making it more broadly accessible.”


Table of Contents


Introduction to the Translation, by Donald S. Lopez Jr.

A Note on the Translation


Table of Contents   

Analytical Table of the First Two Memoranda   


First Memorandum: General Observations   

Second Memorandum: Description of the Collection of the Books of Nepal   



Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press