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Buddhism in Singapore
Main Shrine Hall of the Singapore Buddhist Lodge at River Valley
Total population
1,074,159 [1]
31.1% of the resident population

Buddhism is the largest religion in Singapore, practiced by approximately 31.1% of the population as of 2020. [1] As per the census, out of 3,459,093 Singaporeans polled, 1,074,159 of them identified themselves as Buddhists. [1]

Buddhism was introduced in Singapore primarily by migrants from around the world over the past centuries. The first recorded histories of the Indian religion in Singapore can be observed in early monasteries and temples such as Thian Hock Keng and Jin Long Si Temple that were built by settlers that came from various parts of Asia.

There are a variety of Buddhist organizations in Singapore, with the more predominant authorities being established ones such as the Singapore Buddhist Federation (SBF).


Given the historic status of Singapore as a British trade port and colonial state, as well as a brief period of Japanese colonial rule during World War II, over the centuries a variety of Buddhist lineages from across the globe has appeared gradually on the island. They include Japanese and Western interpretations of the tripitaka, although a substantial local presence have their origins dating back into historic South East and East Asian kingdoms.

Modern day

The Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery at Bishan

Buddhists generally classify themselves as either from Theravāda Tradition or Mahāyāna Tradition. As the Singaporean Buddhist population is mostly ethnic Chinese people, they adhere to Chinese Buddhism (a Chinese form of Mahayana Buddhism).


The first existing Sunday Dhamma School was organised by late Mahaweera Maha Nayaka Thero in 1940, the syllabus was set according to the standard of Young Men's Buddhist Association (YMBA) of Colombo in Sri Lanka. In 1982, a 3-storey annex was built in Mangala Vihara to cater for the rapidly expanding Sunday Dhamma School. [2] The Buddhist and Pali College of Singapore was set up in 1993 at Mangala Vihara, it is to cater for the religious and educational needs of Singaporeans who seek to widen and deepen their understanding and knowledge of Buddhism. [3] Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery has also established another institution known as The Buddhist College of Singapore in 2006.

Youth Groups

Buddhism in Singapore has been experiencing a revival after the implementation of Religious Knowledge as compulsory programme in all secondary schools from 1984 to 1989, [4] [5] There are youth groups set up in various Buddhist Temples and Centres like Wat Ananda Youth, Young Buddhist Chapter (YBC), Mangala Vihara Youth Circle, Singapore Buddhist Mission Youth and Buddhist Fellowship Youth etc. Buddhist societies are established in various tertiary institutions like NUS Buddhist Society (NUSBS), NTU Buddhist Society (NTUBS), SMU Dhamma Circle, SIM Buddhist Bhavana Club (SIMBBC), Ngee Ann Polytechnic Buddhist Society (NPBS), Singapore Polytechnic Buddhist Society (SPBS) and Nanyang Polytechnic Buddhist Society (NYPBS). There are also many foreign students in tertiary institutions joining and involving in these Buddhist societies.

Buddhist Events

In the early eighties, Sri Lankan Buddhist monk and scholar Ven K. Sri Dhammananda and several other Buddhist monastic members were frequently invited to Singapore to conduct English public talks and forums. There were also some famous Chinese Mahayana monks from Taiwan that are invited to conduct Mandarin or Hokkien public talks at the same period too. Singapore Buddhist Youth Mission once organised a large Mandarin public talk in 1999 by Ven Hui Lui from Taiwan at Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Since Ajahn Brahm was invited to be the Spiritual Patron of the Buddhist Fellowship in Singapore, he has frequently conduct English public talks in various locations of Singapore like Chui Huay Lim Club, Singapore Conference Hall and Ren Ci Hospital auditorium. In recent years, several monks from Thai Forest Tradition have been invited to conduct public talks in Singapore; Ajahn Jayasaro was invited to conduct a teaching tour in Singapore in 2017 [6] and Ajahn Sumedho was invited to conduct a public talk at the auditorium of Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery in 2019. [7]

Since 2009, Buddhist film festivals were also organised in Singapore. [8]


Singapore is a society of diverse religious traditions. The Buddhist community in Singapore has contributed much to the Singapore society. One example is the Buddhist Free Clinic. The Buddhist Free Clinic has multiple outlets across Singapore, providing free healthcare services to the public, regardless of the patients' ethnicity or beliefs. This demonstrates how Buddhism is part of the religious fabric in Singapore and how multiple faiths in Singapore get along with one another. [9]


Venerable Ming Yi of Foo Hai Ch'an Monastery as of 2015 [10] was imprisoned in a high-profile corruption scandal a few years ago. Ming Yi had been sentenced to 10 months in jail in November 2009 after being convicted on four charges of fraud, falsifying documents, misappropriating funds and giving false information to the Commissioner of Charities in 2008. [11] [12] Resulting from criminal charges and investigation, the Commissioner of Charities then suspended him from decision-making positions in Foo Hai Ch'an Monastery; Foo Hai Ch'an Buddhist Cultural and Welfare Association; Singapore Buddhist Free Clinic; the Singapore Regional Centre of the World Fellowship of Buddhists; and the Katho Temple. [13]

Venerable Guo Jun, former abbot of the Mahabodhi Monastery in Bukit Timah, has drawn criticism for owning a property in Sydney worth more than A$500,000 (S$514,000) and for not wearing his monk's robe on at least one occasion in public and staying in Marina Bay Sands (MBS) integrated resort. Guo Jun also faced a lawsuit from a trustee Lee Boon Teow of the monastery, who has filed a Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) report against him. [14]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Census of Population 2020: Religion" (PDF). Department of Statistics Singapore. 16 June 2021. Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 July 2021. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  2. ^ "Founder-Mangala Vihara". Archived from the original on 4 August 2020. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  3. ^ "Buddhist and Pali College". Archived from the original on 6 August 2020. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  4. ^ P, Liviniyah. "Religious Knowledge | Infopedia". Archived from the original on 19 September 2020. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  5. ^ Cornbleth, Catherine (1 January 2000). Curriculum Politics, Policy, Practice: Cases in Comparative Context. SUNY Press. ISBN  978-0-7914-9264-2. Archived from the original on 16 January 2023. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  6. ^ "Past Event - Stillness Flowing". Archived from the original on 28 September 2020. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  7. ^ "Dhamma Talk by Ajahn Sumedho". Archived from the original on 16 January 2023. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  8. ^ "Bhutanese film 'Honeygiver Among The Dogs' to make Singapore debut at Buddhist Film Festival". AsiaOne. 18 August 2018. Archived from the original on 29 September 2022. Retrieved 23 June 2022.
  9. ^ "Singapore Buddhist Free Clinic". Retrieved 14 May 2023.
  10. ^ Aw, Cheng Wei (11 May 2015). "Buddhist monk glad kidney recipient has second shot". Archived from the original on 9 March 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  11. ^ "Ming Yi's monk status questioned over $1,000-a-table dinner". AsiaOne. 2 December 2010. Archived from the original on 9 March 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  12. ^ Chong, Elena. "Ren Ci head Venerable Ming Yi charged with 10 counts". Archived from the original on 9 March 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  13. ^ "Ming Yi suspended from office in 5 other bodies". Archived from the original on 16 February 2017. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  14. ^ Zaccheus, Melody. "Bid to suspend monastery's abbot fails". ST. Archived from the original on 9 March 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2016.


  • Chia, Jack Meng Tat (2009). " Buddhism in Singapore: A State of the Field Review." Asian Culture 33, 81-93.
  • Kuah, Khun Eng. State, Society and Religious Engineering: Towards a Reformist Buddhism in Singapore. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, 2003.
  • Ong, Y.D. Buddhism in Singapore: A Short Narrative History. Singapore: Skylark Publications, 2005.
  • Shi Chuanfa 释传发. Xinjiapo Fojiao Fazhan Shi 新加坡佛教发展史 [A History of the Development of Buddhism in Singapore]. Singapore: Xinjiapo fojiao jushilin, 1997.
  • Wee, Vivienne. “Buddhism in Singapore.” In Understanding Singapore Society, eds. Ong Jin Hui, Tong Chee Kiong and Tan Ern Ser, pp. 130–162. Singapore: Times Academic Press, 1997.

External links