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Early in its development, the Buddhist movement fractured into many factions over differences in the rules regulating the community of the monks – the Sangha – and a variety of metaphysical issues. However, following the ascension of the Buddhist emperor Ashoka some semblance of orthodoxy was imposed on the favoured Imperial sect. Over time this tradition was transplanted by missionaries into Sri Lanka where it evolved into the great southern tradition of Buddhism: Theravada.

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