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The Dating of the Historical Buddha: A Review Article



6 In conclusion

It is clear that if the objective of these volumes was to find absolute proof as to the exact date of the Buddha, then they would have failed. No method or evidence we have at the present is sufficient to establish that to the strictest standards of evidence. What certainly has been done is a firmly dethrone the old consensus - it is not impossible that the long chronology may yet be rehabilitated, but someone will have to undertake the task. From the point of view of reasonable probability the evidence seems to favour some kind of median chronology and we should no doubt speak of a date for the Buddha's Mahaparinibbana of c.400 B.C - I choose the round number deliberately to indicate that the margins are rather loose.

It follows that the date of Mahavira and kings such as Pasenadi or Bimbisara must be correspondingly brought down, as they are part of the same historical context. Probably also the date of the Upanisads must be later and possible connexions with the Greek world must be rethought.

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