Buddhism, the fourth greatest religion in the world, originated in India and it spread to neighbouring countries; like-Mayanmar, Sri Lanka, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand. Buddhism was founded by Gautama Buddha (563-483 B.C.). His original name was Siddhartha. He belonged to Shakya Kshatriya clan. Father-Suddhodhana, Mother-Mahamaya, a princess from Kosalan dynasty. He was brought up by his aunt Goutami. He was married to Yasodhara and begot a son Rahul. His favourite charioteer was Channa and favourite horse was Kanthaka. He left his home when he was 29 years old and performed his Mahabiniskaramana to become wandering ascetic, owning nothing but the robe he wore. From a sage named Alara Kalama, he learnt the technique of meditation and later joined with five ascetics-Kondana, Vappa, Bhadiya, Mahanama and Assagl and soon became their leader. He got enlightenment (at 35) at Uruvela on the banks of river Niranjana under a Pipal tree and became fully enlightened to be called Buddha. He gave his first sermon at Sarnath before his former five friend ascetics. His first sermon is called Dharmachakra-pravartana, later he gathered together a disciplined body of monks to be called Bhikshuk. He died at Kusinagar in 483 B.C. at the age of 80.

Contribution of Buddhism

            The concept of ahimsa (non-violence) was its chief contribution In the field of Art and Architecture, Buddhism takes the credit for first human statues to be worshipped, stone-pillar depicting life of Buddha, Gandhara arts, Barabar Cave architectures etc. Buddhism promoted education through residential universities likeTaxila, Nagarjunakonda, Nalanda and Vikramasila.

Important Facts about Buddha:

Birth 563 BC
Birth place Lumbini (now in Nepal) near Kapilvastu, the capital of the Shakyas
Real name Siddhartha
Father's name Suddhodana, elected chief of Shakya republic
Mother's name Mahamaya
Wife Yashodhra
Son Rahul
Place of enlightenment Beneath a Pipal tree in Gaya at NiranJana river at the age of 35
Death  Kushinagar, at Kasiya village in Deoria district of U.P. at the age of80 in 487 BC.

Buddhist Literature:

Vinay Pitaka Buddhist Literature Rules of the order or Buddha’s disciplinary code
Sutta Pitaka Sermons on matter of doctrines and ethics, Buddha’s teachings
Abhidhamma Pitaka On metaphysics and philosophy

Buddhist sects:

Hinnyana (Lesser Vehicle)

            It believed in the original teachings of Buddha and individual effort for salvation. Its minor sects included Theraveda, Sthaviravadins, Sarvastavadins, Sautrantikas and Sammitiya.

Mahayana (Greater Vehicle)

            It gave prominence to Bodhisattva ideal and it laid emphasis on liberating all. Its minor sects include Mahasanghika, Madhyamika and Yogacara.

Vairayana (Thunderbolt)

            It incorporated into it elements of Tantricism. It was developed 1n eastern India under the Palas.

Buddhist councils:

(i) First Council: 

Just after Buddha's death at Rajgriha under the presidentship of Mahakashap Upali.

(ii) Second Council: 

After 100 years of Buddha's death at Vaisali under the presidentship of sabakami. Buddhism was divided into two sections - Sthaviravadins (orthodox) and Mahasanghika.

(iii) Third Council: 

At Pataliputra under the patronage of Ashoka and under the presidentship of Tissa Mugaliputra. It was decided to send Buddhist missionaries to other countries.

(iv) Fourth Council: 

In Kashmir under the patronage of Kanishka and under the presidentship of Vasumitra and Asvagosha. Division of Buddhism effected into Mahayana and Hinayana.

Council Time Place King Chairmanship
First 483 BC Sattapani Cave(Rajagriha, Bihar) Ajatshatru Mahakassapa
Second 383 BC Vaishali(Bihar) Kalasoka Sabakami
Third 250 BC Pataliputra(Bihar) Ashoka Moggaliputta Tissa
Fourth 72 AD Kundalvana(Kashmir) Kanishka Vasumitra

Doctrine of Buddhism:

Code of Conduct for his followers are: (i) do not covet property of others; (ii) do notcommit violence; (iii) do not use intoxieants; (iv) do not tell a lie; and (v) do not indulge in corrupt practices.

The four great Truths (Aryasatya)
(i) The world is full of sorrow and misery.
(ii) The cause of all pain and misery is desire.
(iii) Pain and misery can be ended by controlling desire.
(iv) Desire can be controlled by following eight-fold path.

The eight-fold path (Ashtang morga) consists of
(i) Right faith
(ii) Right thought
(iii) Right action
(iv) Right means of livelihood
(v) Right exertion of efforts
(vi) Right speech
(vii) Right remembrance
(viii) Right concentration or meditation.

Karma: Buddha believed in the doctrine of Karma and the transmigration of soul. He also believed in the concept of rebirth.

Nirvana: The highest goal of human life is Nirvana and it can be attained by leading a virtuous life and following the Eight-fold Path.

Non-Violence: Laid emphasis on Ahimsa and once averted a war between Sakyas and Koliyas.

Refuted Caste System: Attacked the superiority of Brahmanas and preached social equality.

About God Neither denied the existence of God nor considered it necessary for the attainment of Nirvana.

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