Research topic: Buddhism
Today Buddhism is one of the great world religions. After Buddhism was founded in India 2500 years ago, the religion spread through conquests, pilgrims' and traders' routes and missions to large parts of Asia.
Buddhism - particularly Tibetan Buddhism and Zen Buddhism - also has many followers in the West. In 2000 there were an estimated 362 million Buddhists worldwide.
Buddhism is generally divided into two major branches: Theravada Buddhism, which today is found in South and Southeast Asia, and Mahayana Buddhism, which is distributed across large areas of Central, North and East Asia.
A particular feature of the spread of Buddhism is the various ways in which it has integrated or co-existed with local religious traditions. As a result new religious forms have been, and are being, created.
Tibetan Buddhism is the result of interaction between Indian Buddhism and local religious beliefs. These processes of religious transformation continue in Buddhist communities today.
There is a long tradition of the academic study of Buddhism at the University of Oslo, and a number of researchers at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages are now studying Buddhism from a historical perspective based on the religion's enormous textual resources and/or various aspects of contemporary Buddhist practice through field studies.