According to the book The Buddhist World by author John Powers, there are 14 most influential Buddhist figures in the world.
Those 14 characters have the following list:
1. The Buddha (Buddha Shakyamuni)
2. Nagarjuna (Patriarch of the 14 Indian Zen School – Mr. Nagarjuna, founder of the Middle Way School) 3. Vasubandhu (Patriarch of the 21 Zen School of India – Mr. Vasubandhu – the author of “Vi Miraculous Dharma”)
4. Dignaga & Dharmakirti (Tran Na & Dharmakirti, 2 excellent commentators of Indian Buddhism)
5. Wonhyo (Nguyen Hieu – Korean master)
6. Dogen (Zen Master Dogen – First Patriarch of the Soto School – Japan)
7. Milarepa (Mr. Milarepa – Great Tibetan Practitioner)
8. Tsongkhapa (Great Master Tsongkhapa – Patriarch of the Pope sect, established the reincarnation regime of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Dalai Lama – Tibet)
9. Nichiren (Mr. Nhat Lien – founder of Nhat Lien Tong of the French-Japanese Buddhist system)
ten. Thich Nhat Hanh (Initiating the Plum Village Dharma class – Vietnam)
11. Master Yinshun (Chinese master Yinshun – preaching in Taiwan)
12. The Fourteenth Dalai Lama (14th Dalai Lama – Tibet)
13. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu (Thai Master Buddhadasa – Proposal of Buddhist Socialism). Through the list, readers note that there are five Indians, three Tibetans, and two Japanese. In China, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam, each country has a great master selected for this list. Currently only His Holiness the Dalai Lama alive, the others have passed away.