||This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2011)
This is a list of notable Buddhists, encompassing all the major branches of the religion, 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 
- 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
- Maha Kaccana
- Kisa Gotami
- Maudgalyayana (Sanskrit, Moggallana Pali), one of two chief disciples of the Buddha.
- Maya Devi
- Maha Pajapati Gotami
- Pindola Bharadvaja
- Rahula, only child of Prince Siddhartha and Yashodhara before Siddhartha renounced and began his search for Enlightenment
- Sariputta (Pali, Shariputra Sanskrit), one of the two chief disciples of the Buddha.
- Upali, foremost disciple in knowledge of the Vinaya.
- Yashodhara, wife of Prince Siddhartha before he renounced and began his search for Enlightenment
Later Buddhists (after Buddha) 
- Aryadeva, foremost disciple of Nagarjuna, continued the philosophical school of Madhyamaka
- Asanga, under of the Yogachara school, widely considered the most important Mahayana philosopher (with Nagarjuna)
- Atisha, holder of the “mind training” (Tib. lojong) teachings, considered an indirect founder of the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism
- Bhavaviveka, early expositor of the Svatantrika Madhyamaka
- Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen/Chán
- Bodhiruci, patriarch of the Ti-Lun school
- Buddhabhadra, founding abbot and patriarch of the Shaolin temple
- Buddhaghosa, (Theravadin commentator)
- Buddhapalita, early expositor of the Prasangika Madhyamaka
- Chandragomin, renowned grammarian
- Chandrakirti, considered the greatest exponent of Prasangika Madhyamaka
- Dharmakirti, famed logician, author of the Seven Treatises; student of Dignana's student Ishvarasena; said to have debated famed Hindu scholar Shankara
- Dignaga, famed logician
- Kamalashila (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
- Prahevajra (Tib. Garab Dorje) Indian founder of Dzogchen (Total Perfection) tradition
- Saraha, famed mahasiddha, forefather of the Tibetan Kagyu lineage
- Shantarakshita, abbot of Nalanda, founder of the Yogachara-Madhyamaka who helped Padmasambhava establish Buddhism in Tibet
- Shantideva, (8th century) author of the Bodhisattvacaryavatra
- Talika, (Tilopa in Tibetan), recipient of four separate transmissions from Nagarjuna, Nagpopa, Luipa, and Khandro Kalpa Zangmo; Naropa's teacher
- Vasubandhu, author of (1) the Abhidharmakosha and (2) various Yogacara treatises; these may or may not be the same person
Central Asian 
- An Shih Kao, a Parthian monk and the first known Buddhist missionary to China, in 148 CE.
- Dharmaraksa, a Yueh-Chih Buddhist monk, the first known translator of the Lotus Sutra into Chinese.
- Jnanagupta (561-592), a monk and translator from Gandhara, Pakistan.
- Kumarajiva (c. 401), a Kuchean monk, and one of the most important translators.
- Lokaksema, a Kushan monk, the first translator of Mahayana scriptures into Chinese, around 180 CE.
- Prajna (c. 810). A monk and translator from Kabul, who translated important texts into Chinese and educated the Japanese Kūkai in Sanskrit texts.
- Baizhang Huaihai
- Bodhidharma, the first patriarch of Zen in China
- Dahui Zonggao, 12th century koan master
- Dao Xin, fourth patriarch of Zen in China
- Daoji, a Buddhist monk revered as a deity in Taoism
- Fa Xian, translator and pilgrim
- Hong Yi, calligraphist, painter, master of seal carving
- Hongren, fifth patriarch of Zen in China
- Huangbo Xiyun, 9th century, teacher of Linji Yixuan
- Huike, second patriarch of Zen in China
- Huineng, sixth and last patriarch of Zen in China
- Yi Jing, pilgrim and translator
- Ingen, 17th century Chinese Zen monk, founder of the Ōbaku sect of Zen
- Jizang, founder of the Three Treatise School
- Jnanayasas, translator
- Linji Yixuan, 9th century Chinese monk, founder of the Linji school of Zen
- Mazu, 8th century Zen master
- Mo-ho-yen, 8th century Chinese monk, advocate of “sudden” enlightenment
- Sanghapala, 6th century monk (Mon-Khmer?) who translated many texts to Chinese
- Sengcan, third patriarch of Zen in China
- Shenxiu, Tang Dynasty, Patriarch of "Northern School" Zen sect
- Wumen Huikai, author of the Gateless Gate
- Xuanzang, brought Yogacara to China to found Faxiang school, significant pilgrim, translator
- Xueting Fuyu, 13th century Shaolin Temple abbot of the Caodong lineage
- Yunmen Wenyan, founder of one of the five Chán schools
- Zhaozhou, 9th century Chán master; noted for "Mu" koan
- Zhiyi, founder of the Tiantai school, also known by the name T'ien-t'ai.
- Zongmi, fifth patriarch of Chinese Huayan school
- Gampopa, a student of Jetsun Milarepa and founder of the Karma Kagyü lineage of Tibetan Buddhism
- Dolpopa, founder of the Jonang school and the Shentong philosophy
- Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye, the first Jamgon Kongtrul
- Karsey Kongtrül, the second Jamgon Kongtrul
- Khungpo Nyaljor, founder of the Shangpa Kagyü lineage
- Longchenpa, one of the greatest Nyingma philosophers
- Mandarava, important female student and consort of Padmasambhava
- Marpa Lotsawa (Marpa the Translator, Marpa of Lhobrag), student of Naropa and a founder of the Kagyü lineage of Tibetan Buddhism
- Milarepa, foremost student of Marpa Lotsawa
- Padmasambhava, (Tib. Guru Rinponchee) Indian founder of Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism
- Sakya Pandita, one of the greatest Sakya philosophers
- Taranatha, an important Jonang scholar
- Tsongkhapa, a 14th century Tibetan monk, founder of the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism, based upon the Kadam tradition
- Yeshe Tsogyal, important female student and consort of Padmasambhava
- Bankei Yōtaku (1622–1693), Rinzai Zen Buddhist master, 'Unborn' Zen
- Dōgen Zenji (1200–1253), founder of Sōtō Zen, based upon the Chinese Caodong tradition
- Eisai (1141–1215), travelled to China and returned to found the Japanese Rinzai sect of Zen
- Hakuin Ekaku (1686–1769), Rinzai Zen
- Hōnen (1133-1212), founder of the Japanese Pure Land sect (Jōdo-shū)
- Ikkyū (1374-1481), Zen Buddhist monk and poet
- Ippen (1234–1289), founder of the Japanese Pure Land Ji-shū sect
- Kūkai (774–835), founder of Shingon
- Myōe (1173–1232), monk of the Shingon and Kegon schools, known for his propagation of the Mantra of Light
- Nakahara Nantenbō (1839-1925), Zen master and artist
- Nichiren (1222-1282), founder of Nichiren Buddhism
- Nikkō (1246–1333), founder of Nichiren Shōshū
- Rōben (689–773), invited Simsang to Japan and founded the Kegon tradition, based upon the Korean Hwaeom school
- Ryōkan (1758–1831), Zen monk and poet
- Saichō (767–822), founded Tendai Buddhism in Japan, also known by the posthumous title Dengyō Daishi
- Shinran (1173–1263), founder of the Japanese Pure Land sect Jōdo Shinshū and disciple of Hōnen
- Takuan Sōhō (1573–1645), Zen teacher, and, according to legend, mentor of the swordsman Miyamoto Musashi
- Gempō Yamamoto (1866–1961), Zen Master
- Shinjō Itō (1906-1989), founder of Shinnyo-en
Historical rulers and political figures 
- Anawrahta (1014–1077), founder of Pagan Empire, credited with introducing Theravada Buddhism in Pagan Kingdom and restarting Theravada Buddhism in Ceylon
- Ashoka the Great (304–232 BC), Mauryan Emperor of ancient India, and the first Buddhist ruler to send Buddhist missionaries outside of India throughout the Old World (阿育王)
- Brhadrata, the last ruler of the Mauryan dynasty
- Harshavardhana (606–648), Indian emperor who converted to Buddhism.
- Jayavarman VII (1181–1219), king of Cambodia
- Kanishka, ruler of the Kushan Empire
- Kublai Khan Mongol emperor
- Menander (Pali: Milinda), 2nd century BCE, an Indo-Greek king of northwestern India, who questioned Nāgasena about Buddhism in the Milinda Pañha, and is said to have become an arhat.
- Mindon (1808–1878), king of Myanmar and facilitator of "Fifth World Theravada Buddhist Council" or Fifth Sangayana
- Emperor Ming of Han China.
- Mongkut, king of Thailand and founder of the Thammayut Nikaya
- Shōtoku (574–622), crown prince and regent of Japan
- Theodorus (1st century BCE), Indo-Greek governor, author of a Buddhist dedication.
- Empress Wu of Zhou China (625–705), the only female empress regnant in Chinese history
- Emperor Wu of Liang China (梁武帝) (502–549), Emperor during the Chinese Liang Dynasty
- King Devanampiya Tissa (307 BC – 267 BC) of Sri Lanka
Modern teachers 
Theravada teachers 
Tibetan Buddhist teachers 
Zen teachers 
- Anne Hopkins Aitken, (1911–1994)
- Bodhin Kjolhede, Rōshi (1948- )
- Brad Warner, Sensei (b. 1964)
- Jundo Cohen, (Just Jundo) (b. 1960)
- Cheri Huber (b. 1944)
- Genjo Marinello (1954- )
- Issan Dorsey (1933–1990)
- Jakusho Kwong, Rōshi (1935- )
- Houn Jiyu-Kennett (1924–1996)
- James Ishmael Ford, Rōshi (1948- )
- Jiyu Kennett, Rōshi (1924–1996)
- John Daido Loori, Rōshi (1931–2009)
- John Tarrant, Roshi (1949- )
- Joko Beck (1917-2011)
- Paul Haller, Rōshi
- Philip Kapleau, Rōshi (1912–2004)
- Robert Baker Aitken, Rōshi (1917–2010)
- Soeng Hyang (Barbara Rhodes)
- Taigen Daniel Leighton (1950-)
- Tenshin Reb Anderson
- Tetsugen Bernard Glassman, Rōshi
- Zentatsu Richard Baker, Rōshi
- Zoketsu Norman Fischer
- Heng Sure (1949-)
- Sherry Chayat (b. 1943)
- Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891–1956) -Indian nationalist, jurist, scholar, political leader, Buddhist revivalist and architect of the Indian Constitution
- Tara Brach (1953- )
- John Crook (1930-2011) - a 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
- 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 - ) - a prolific writer of Nichiren Buddhism, society, peace and nuclear abolition, and President of the SGI.
- Jack Kornfield (1945 - ) - an 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) - a 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 - ) - an 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)
- Yin Shun (1906–2005)
- Sadhguru Recently honored with the Indira Gandhi Award, India’s highest award for environmental work
Modern politicians, activists, and protesters 
Buddhist practitioners notable in other fields 
- Orlando Bloom, English actor (SGI Nichiren Buddhist)
- Kate Bosworth, American actress (SGI Nichiren Buddhist)
- Chow Yun-fat, Chinese actor
- Leonard Cohen, Canadian singer/songwriter/poet (Zen Buddhist)
- George Dvorsky, transhumanist futurist and one of directors of Humanity+. (Secular Buddhist)
- Richard Gere, American actor (Tibetan Buddhist)
- Allen Ginsberg, poet (Tibetan Buddhist)
- Herbie Hancock, American pianist and composer (SGI Nichiren Buddhist)
- Steve Jobs, American businessman and inventor (Zen Buddhist)
- Jack Kerouac, American novelist ( Tibetan Buddhist)
- k.d. lang, Canadian singer (Tibetan Buddhist)
- Jet Li, Chinese martial artist, Hollywood actor (Tibetan Buddhist)
- Courtney Love, American singer-songwriter (SGI Nichiren Buddhist)
- Kenneth Pai, Chinese-American writer
- Steven Seagal, American actor and aikido expert (Tibetan Buddhist)
- Oliver Stone, American film director
- Sharon Stone, American actress, producer, and former fashion model.
- Tina Turner, American singer-songwriter (SGI Nichiren Buddhist)
- Wong Ah Kiu – Malaysian of mixed Chinese and Malay descent
- Tiger Woods American golfer
Fictional Buddhists 
- 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 (Marvel Comics), a Marvel Comics superheroine.
- Lisa Simpson, feminist and daughter of Homer and Marge Simpson
- 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 (comics), 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.
See also 
- ^ a b c d e "Top Ten celebrity Buddhists". Wildmind Buddhist Meditation. Wildmind.org. June 5, 2007. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
- ^ "Hank Johnson, Congressman and Buddhist". About.com. December 14, 2009. Retrieved July 19, 2012.
- ^ "South Korean nun ends 100-day fast for salamander". Daily Times. 5 February 2005. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
- ^ a b c d "Top Ten celebrity Buddhists". Wildmind Buddhist Meditation. Wildmind.org. June 5, 2007. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
- ^ "Chow Yun-Fat biography and filmography: Dragonball: Evolution Actor". Tribute.ca. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
- ^ Dvorsky, George. "George Dvorsky: About". Google+. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- ^ Morgan, Bill. I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg. New York: Viking, 2006.
- ^ Silberman, Steve (October 28, 2011). "What Kind of Buddhist was Steve Jobs, Really?". NeuroTribes. Retrieved January 6, 2012.
- ^ Burke, Daniel (November 2, 2011). "Steve Jobs' private spirituality now an open book". USA Today. Retrieved January 6, 2012.
- ^ "The second coming of kd Lang". The Times (London). January 13, 2008. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
- ^ "How did you come to follow Tibetan Buddhism?". The Official Jet Li Website. JetLi.com. May 21, 2001. Retrieved August 9, 2001.
- ^ Lash, Jolie (18 November 2005). "Enduring Love". The Guardian. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
- ^ Palladino, D. J. (September 28, 2006). "Peony Dreams". The Santa Barbara Independent. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
- ^ Lagrossa, Edward (October 20, 1997). "Stone Soul Booksigning". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
- ^ Lee, Luaine (October 17, 1998). "Sharon Stone's now at peace with her world". Deseret News. p. 2. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
- ^ "Syariah Court Decides Nyonya Tahir Not A Muslim". Bernama. 2006-01-23. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- ^ Wright, Robert (July 24, 2000). "Gandhi and Tiger Woods". Slate.com. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
- ^ a b c The Simpsons Episode 275 (Season 13 Episode 6) 'She of Little Faith'
- ^ "Religion of Hiro Nakamura; from Heroes (TV series): Season 1, Episode". Comicbookreligion.com. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
- ^ South Park Episode 58 (Season 4 Episode 11) 'Probably'