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List of Buddhists
This is a list of notable Buddhists, encompassing all the major branches of the religion (i.e. in Buddhism), and including interdenominational and eclectic Buddhist practitioners. This list includes both formal teachers of Buddhism, and people notable in other areas who are publicly Buddhist or who have espoused Buddhism.
Historical Buddhist thinkers and founders of schools
Individuals are grouped by nationality, except in cases where their influence was felt elsewhere. Gautama Buddha and his immediate disciples ('Buddhists') are listed separately from later Indian Buddhist thinkers, teachers and contemplatives.
Buddha's disciples and early Buddhists
Buddha and his disciples; the world's tallest walking statue of the Buddha, in Kandy, Sri Lanka
- See also: Disciples of Gautama Buddha and Family of Gautama Buddha
- The Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama
- Ananda, Siddhartha's cousin, personal attendant of the Buddha and one of his chief disciples
- Devadatta, another cousin of Siddhartha and later rival who attempted to assassinate the Buddha
- Hatthaka of Alavi
- Kisa Gotami
- Maudgalyayana (Pali: Moggallana), one of two chief disciples of the Buddha
- Mahapajapati Gotami, Buddha's aunt and foster mother
- Pindola Bharadvaja
- R?hula, only child of Siddhartha and Yasodhar? before Siddhartha renounced and began his search for Enlightenment
- Sariputta, one of the two chief disciples of the Buddha
- Upali, foremost disciple in knowledge of the Vinaya
- Yasodhar?, Siddhartha's wife before he renounced
Later Indian Buddhists (after Buddha)
- Aryadeva, foremost disciple of Nagarjuna, continued the philosophical school of Madhyamaka
- Asanga, founder of the Yogacara school, widely considered the most important Mahayana philosopher along with Nagarjuna
- Ati?a, holder of the "mind training" teachings, considered an indirect founder of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism
- Bh?viveka, early expositor of the Svatantrika branch of the Madhyamaka school
- Bodhidharma, founder of Chan Buddhism
- Bodhiruci, patriarch of the Dilun (Chinese: ) school
- Batuo, founding abbot and patriarch of the Shaolin Monastery
- Buddhaghosa, Theravadin commentator
- Buddhap?lita, early expositor of the Prasa?gika branch of the Madhyamaka school
- Chandragomin, renowned grammarian
- Candrak?rti, considered the greatest exponent of Prasa?gika
- Dharmakirti, famed logician, author of the Seven Treatises; student of Dign?ga's student, v?ras?na; said to have debated famed Hindu scholar Adi Shankara
- Dign?ga, famed logician
- Garab Dorje, Indian founder of Dzogchen (Great Perfection) tradition
- Kamalala (8th century), author of important texts on meditation
- Luipa, one of the eighty-four tantric Mahasiddhas
- Nagarjuna, founder of the Madhyamaka school, widely considered the most important Mahayana philosopher (with Asanga)
- Nadapada (Tib. Naropa), Tilopa's primary disciple, teacher of Marpa the Translator and Khungpo Nyaljor
- Padmasambhava (Tib. Guru Rinpoche), Indian founder of Tibetan Buddhism
- Saraha, famed mahasiddha, forefather of the Kagyu lineage
- ntarak?ita, abbot of Nalanda, founder of the Yogacara who helped Padmasambhava establish Buddhism in Tibet
- Shantideva (8th century), author of the Bodhisattvacary?vat?ra
- Tilopa, recipient of four separate transmissions from Nagarjuna, Nagpopa, Luipa, and Khandro Kalpa Zangmo; Naropa's teacher
- Vasubandhu, author of the Abhidharmaka and various Yogacara treatises; these may or may not be the same person
- An Shigao, Parthian monk and the first known Buddhist missionary to China, in 148 CE
- Dharmarak?a, Yuezhi monk, the first known translator of the Lotus Sutra into Chinese
- Jñ?nagupta (561-592), monk and translator from Gandhara, Pakistan
- Kum?raj?va (c. 401), Kuchan monk and one of the most important translators
- Lokaksema, Kushan monk, first translator of Mahayana scriptures into Chinese, around 180 CE
- Prajñ? (c. 810), monk and translator from Kabul, who translated important texts into Chinese and educated the Japanese K?kai in Sanskrit texts
- Baizhang Huaihai
- Bodhidharma, first patriarch of Chan Buddhism in China
- Dahui Zonggao, 12th-century k?an master
- Daman Hongren, fifth patriarch of Chan Buddhism in China
- Dayi Daoxin, fourth patriarch of Chan Buddhism in China
- Dazu Huike, second patriarch of Chan Buddhism in China
- Faxian, translator and pilgrim
- Guifeng Zongmi, fifth patriarch of the Huayan school
- Hong Yi, calligraphist, painter, master of seal carving
- Huangbo Xiyun, 9th-century teacher of Linji Yixuan
- Huineng, sixth and last patriarch of Chan Buddhism in China
- Ingen, 17th-century Chinese Chan monk, founder of the ?baku sect of Zen
- Ji Gong, a Buddhist monk revered as a deity in Taoism
- Jizang, founder of East Asian M?dhyamaka
- Jnanayasas, translator
- Linji Yixuan, 9th-century Chinese monk, founder of the Linji school of Chan Buddhism
- Mazu Daoyi, 8th-century Chan master
- Moheyan, 8th-century Chinese monk, advocate of "sudden" enlightenment
- Sanghapala, 6th-century monk (Mon-Khmer?) who translated many texts to Chinese
- Sengcan, third patriarch of Chan Buddhism in China
- Wumen Huikai, author of the Gateless Gate
- Xuanzang, brought Yogacara to China to found the East Asian Yog?c?ra school; significant pilgrim, translator
- Xueting Fuyu, 13th-century Shaolin Monastery abbot of the Caodong school
- Yijing, pilgrim and translator
- Yunmen Wenyan, founder of one of the five schools of Chan Buddhism
- Yuquan Shenxiu, Tang dynasty, patriarch of "Northern School" sect of Chan Buddhism
- Zhaozhou, 9th-century Chan master; noted for "Mu" koan
- Zhiyi, founder of the Tiantai school
- Gampopa, student of Jetsun Milarepa and founder of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism
- Jigten Sumgön, founder of Drikung Kagyu Lineage
- Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen, founder of the Jonang school and advocate of the shentong philosophy
- Jamgon Kongtrul
- Longchenpa, one of the greatest Nyingma philosophers
- Mandarava, important female student and consort of Padmasambhava
- Marpa Lotsawa, student of Naropa and a founder of the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism
- Milarepa, foremost student of Marpa Lotsawa
- Padmasambhava, Indian founder of Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism
- Sakya Pandita, one of the greatest Sakya philosophers
- Taranatha, important Jonang scholar
- Je Tsongkhapa, 14th-century Tibetan monk, founder of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, based upon the Kadam
- Yeshe Tsogyal, important female student and consort of Padmasambhava
- Bankei Y?taku (1622-1693), Zen master of the Rinzai school
- D?gen Zenji (1200-1253), founder of the S?t? school of Zen, based upon the Caodong school
- Eisai (1141-1215), travelled to China and returned to found the Rinzai school of Zen]
- Hakuin Ekaku (1686-1769), Rinzai school of Zen]
- H?nen (1133-1212), founder of the J?do-sh? school of Pure Land Buddhism
- Ikky? (1374-1481), Zen Buddhist monk and poet
- Ippen (1234-1289), founder of the Ji-sh? sect of Pure Land Buddhism
- K?kai (774-835), founder of Shingon Buddhism
- My?e (1173-1232), monk of Kegon and Shingon Buddhism, known for his propagation of the Mantra of Light
- Nakahara Nantenb? (1839-1925), Zen master and artist
- Nichiren (1222-1282), founder of Nichiren Buddhism
- Nikk? (1246-1333), founder of Nichiren Sh?sh?
- R?ben (689-773), invited Simsang to Japan and founded the Kegon tradition based upon the Korean Hwaeom school
- Ry?kan (1758-1831), Zen monk and poet
- Saich? (767-822), founded Tendai school in Japan, also known by the posthumous title Dengy? Daishi
- Shinran (1173-1263), founder of the J?do Shinsh? school of Pure Land Buddhism and disciple of H?nen
- Takuan S?h? (1573-1645), Zen teacher, and, according to legend, mentor of the swordsman Miyamoto Musashi
- Gemp? Yamamoto (1866-1961), Zen master
- Shinj? It? (1906-1989), founder of Shinnyo-en
- Shin Arahan, primate of Pagan Kingdom, 1056-1115
- Ledi Sayadaw, propagator of vipassan?
- Mahasi Sayadaw, propagator of vipassan?
- Sayadaw U Tejaniya, propagator of vipassan?
- Mogok Sayadaw, propagator of vipassan?
- Webu Sayadaw, propagator of vipassan?
- Panditarama Sayadaw, propagator of vipassan?
- Mingun Sayadaw, the first monk in Myanmar to be awarded the title of Tipitakadhara, meaning Keeper and Guardian of the Tipitaka
- Maha Bodhi Ta Htaung Sayadaw, founder of Maha Bodhi Tahtaung
- Sitagu Sayadaw, founder and Supreme Head of the Sitagu Buddhist Academies
- Ashin Nandamalabhivamsa, rector of International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University
- Ashin Sandadika, a well-known monk
- Ba Khin, propagator of vipassana meditation in the Ledi tradition
Historical rulers and political figures
- Anawrahta (1015-1078), founder of the Pagan Kingdom and credited with introducing Theravada Buddhism there and reintroducing it in Ceylon
- Ashoka (304-232 BC), Mauryan Emperor of ancient India, and the first Buddhist ruler to send Buddhist missionaries outside of India throughout the Old World ()
- Brihadratha Maurya, last ruler of the Maurya Empire
- Harsha (606-648), Indian emperor who converted to Buddhism
- Jayavarman VII (1181-1219), king of Cambodia
- Kanishka the Great, ruler of the Kushan Empire
- Kublai Khan, Mongol khagan and founder of the Yuan dynasty of China
- Hulagu Khan, Mongol ruler who conquered much of Southwest Asia
- Menander I (Pali: Milinda), 2nd century BCE, a king of the Indo-Greek Kingdom of Northwestern India who questioned N?gasena about Buddhism in the Milinda Pañha and is said to have become an arhat
- Mindon Min (1808-1878), last king of Burma and facilitator of the Fifth Buddhist council
- Emperor Ming of Han
- Mongkut, king of Thailand and founder of the Dhammayuttika Nikaya
- Prince Sh?toku (574-622), mythologized crown prince and regent of Japan
- Theodorus (1st century BCE), Indo-Greek governor, author of a Buddhist dedication
- Wu Zetian (625-705), only female Empress Regnant in Chinese history
- Emperor Wu of Liang () (502-549)
- Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura (307 BCE-267 BCE), King of Anuradhapura
- B. R. Ambedkar (14 April,1891- 6 December 1956 ), Architect of indian constitution india
Tibetan Buddhist teachers
Dzogchen & Bon Teachers
- Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891-1956), Indian Intellectual, jurist, scholar, political leader, Buddhist revivalist and architect of the Indian Constitution
- Tara Brach (1953-)
- John Crook (1930-2011), British ecologist, sociologist, and practitioner of both Ch'an and Tibetan Buddhism tradition
- Josei Toda (1900-1958), peace activist and second president of the Soka Gakkai
- Joseph Goldstein (1944-)
- Han Yong-un (1879-1944)
- Chittadhar Hridaya (1906-1982)
- Hsuan Hua (1918-1995), Tripitaka Master; extensive English commentaries on the major Mahayana Sutras: Avatamsaka Sutra, Shurangama Sutra, Shurangama Mantra, Lotus Sutra, Diamond Sutra, and many others
- Christmas Humphreys (1901-1983)
- Daisaku Ikeda (1928-), prolific writer of Nichiren Buddhism, society, peace and nuclear abolition, and President of the Soka Gakkai International
- Jack Kornfield (1945-), American book writer, student of renowned forest monk Ajahn Chah, and teacher of Theravada Buddhism
- Dennis Lingwood (1925-)
- Edward Salim Michael (1921--2006)
- Nakamura Hajime (1911-1999)
- Nishida Kitaro (1870-1945)
- Gudo Wafu Nishijima (b. 1919)
- Nishitani Keiji (1900-1990)
- Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907)
- Sheng-yen (1930-2009), religious scholar, one of the most respected teachers of Chinese Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism, and founder of spiritual and educational organization Dharma Drum Mountain
- Taixu (1890-1947)
- Tanaka Chigaku (1861-1939)
- Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944), Japanese educator and founder of the Soka Gakkai
- Robert Thurman (1941-), American author, editor and translator of books on Tibetan Buddhism, Je Tsongkhapa professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University and co-founder and president of Tibet House U.S.
- Brad Warner (b. 1964)
- Alan Watts (1915-1973)
- Robert Wright (1957-)
- Yin Shun (1906-2005)
- Noah Levine (1971-) is an American Buddhist teacher and the author of the books Dharma Punx: A Memoir (2004), Against the Stream: A Buddhist Manual for Spiritual Revolutionaries (2007), The Heart of the Revolution: The Buddha's Radical Teachings on Forgiveness, Compassion, and Kindness (2011), and Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction (2014).
Modern politicians, activists, and protesters
- B. R. Ambedkar (1891-1956), Indian nationalist, jurist, scholar, political leader, philosopher, anthropologist, historian, economist, Buddhist revivalist and principal architect of the Constitution of India
- Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese opposition politician and chairperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Burma; received the Rafto Prize and the Sakharov Prize in 1990 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 (Theravada)
- Colleen Hanabusa, U.S. Congresswoman (2011-), Democrat and lawyer from Hawaii
- Mazie Hirono, U.S. Senator (2013-), U.S. Congresswoman (2007-2013) and Democrat from Hawaii; first elected female Senator from Hawaii, first Asian-American woman elected to the Senate, first U.S. Senator born in Japan and the nation's first Buddhist Senator
- Hank Johnson, U.S. Congressman (2007-) and Democrat from Georgia; one of the first two Buddhists to serve in the United States Congress (Soka Gakkai International)
- Eric Lubbock, 4th Baron Avebury (1928-2016), English politician and Liberal Democrat; served as the Liberal Member of Parliament for Orpington from 1962 to 1970 and served in the House of Lords, having inherited the title of Baron Avebury in 1971
- Jiyul, a Buddhist nun from South Korea who fasted to stop destruction of Korean salamander lands (Korean Seon)
- U Thant (1909-1974), Burmese diplomat and third Secretary-General of the United Nations (1961-1971) (Theravada)
- Thích Huy?n Quang (1919-2008), Vietnamese Buddhist monk, dissident and activist; formerly the patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Sangha of Vietnam; in 2002, he was awarded the Homo Homini Award for his human rights activism by the Czech group People in Need
- Thích Qu?ng , Vietnamese Buddhist monk, current patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Sangha of Vietnam; awarded the Homo Homini Award for human rights activism by the Czech group People in Need in 2002; nine-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee
- Thích Qu?ng c (1897-1963), Vietnamese Mahayana monk and self-martyr for freedom of religion; burned himself to death at a busy Saigon road intersection on 11 June 1963 (Mahayana)
- Kiren Rijiju, Indian politician
Buddhist practitioners notable in other fields
- Fabien Barthez, French goalkeeper (1994-2006) of 1998 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2000-winning French national football team (Zen)
- Roberto Baggio, Italian (1988-2004) footballer; in 1993, he was named FIFA World Player of the Year and won the Ballon d'Or (Soka Gakkai International)
- Orlando Bloom, English actor (Soka Gakkai International)
- Kate Bosworth, American actress (Soka Gakkai International)
- Belinda Carlisle, American singer (Soka Gakkai International)
- Tisca Chopra, Indian actress (Soka Gakkai International)
- Edson Celulari, Brazilian actor
- Chow Yun-fat, Chinese actor
- Leonard Cohen, Canadian singer/songwriter/poet (Zen)
- Penélope Cruz, Spanish actress and model
- George Dvorsky, Transhumanist, Futurist and one of directors of Humanity+ (Secular Buddhism)
- Richard Gere, American actor (Tibetan Buddhism)
- Allen Ginsberg, poet (Tibetan Buddhism)
- Philip Glass, American composer (Tibetan Buddhist)
- Herbie Hancock, American pianist and composer (Soka Gakkai International)
- Steve Jobs, American businessman, entrepreneur, marketer, inventor and the CEO of Apple Inc (Zen)
- Jack Kerouac, American novelist (Zen and Tibetan Buddhism; also the Catholic Church)
- k.d. lang, Canadian singer (Tibetan Buddhism)
- James Lecesne, American actor, author, screenwriter, LGBT rights activist, founder of The Trevor Project (Soka Gakkai International)
- Jet Li, Chinese martial artist, Hollywood actor (Tibetan Buddhist)
- Courtney Love, American singer-songwriter (Soka Gakkai International)
- Naima Mora, fashion model, winner of America's Next Top Model (Soka Gakkai International)
- Ellison Onizuka (1946-1986), U.S. Air Force Colonel and first Asian American astronaut of NASA (Pure Land Buddhism)
- Kenneth Pai, Chinese-American writer
- Steven Seagal, American actor and aikido expert (Tibetan Buddhism)
- Maya Soetoro-Ng, Indonesian American writer, university instructor and maternal half-sister of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States
- Oliver Stone, American film director
- Sharon Stone, American actress, producer, and former fashion model
- George Takei, American actor and author
- Tina Turner, American singer-songwriter (Soka Gakkai International)
- Marcia Wallace, American actress, voice artist, comedian (Soka Gakkai International)
- Naomi Watts, British-Australian actress and film producer
- Faye Wong, Chinese singer and actress (Tibetan Buddhism)
- Tiger Woods, American golfer
- Michelle Yeoh, Malaysian actress
- Steve Jinks, character from Warehouse 13
- Daryl Dixon, character from The Walking Dead
- Kahn Souphanousinphone, character from the cartoon King of the Hill
- Connie Souphanousinphone, character from the cartoon King of the Hill
- Dale Cooper, protagonist of the television series Twin Peaks
- Kyle Valenti, character from the television series Roswell
- Enigma, a Marvel Comics superheroine
- Lisa Simpson, feminist and daughter of Homer and Marge Simpson, character from the cartoon The Simpsons
- Carl Carlson, character from the cartoon The Simpsons
- Lenny Leonard, character from the cartoon The Simpsons
- Liu Kang, character from the video game and later movie, Mortal Kombat
- Yoh Asakura, protagonist of the anime/manga Shaman King
- Trini Kwan, original Yellow Ranger of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
- Wendy Wu, protagonist of the Disney Channel Original Movie Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior
- 2D, lead singer and keyboardist of the British virtual band Gorillaz
- Shi (comics), Crusade Comics' superheroine
- Master Splinter, a Zen sensei/teacher to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- Hiro Nakamura, protagonist character in TV series Heroes
- Xorn, Marvel Comics character and member of the X-Men
- Gi, the Planeteer able to wield the element water
- Green Lama, an American pulp magazine hero
- Edina Monsoon (Eddy) from the Absolutely Fabulous TV sitcom
- Jeremy, from the popular web series Pure Pwnage
- God, from the animated cartoon South Park
- Green Arrow (Connor Hawke), DC Comics superhero
- Sun Wukong, Monkey King in Chinese epic novel Journey to the West, and a fictional pupil of historical Chinese monk Xuanzang
- Charlie Crews, Zen Buddhist, protagonist of television series Life
- Mary Elizabeth, character from the novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower
- Hanamaru Kunikida, character from Love Live! Sunshine!!
- Miroku, character from Japanese Anime Inuyasha.
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