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Buddhism Facts



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Buddhism Facts Gautama Buddha: Gautama Buddha or Siddhartha was a contemporary of Mahavira. He was born in 563 BC in a Shakya(kshtriya) family in Lumbini near Kapilvastu, which is situated in Nepal. Gautama's father (Shudhodana) seems to have been elected ruler of Kapilvastu, and headed the Republic clan of the Shakyas. His mother(Mahamaya) was a princess from the Kosalan dynasty. From his early childhood, Gautama showed a meditative kind of mind.

Alara Kama was teacher of meditation. He was married early, but married life did not interest him. At the age of 29 he left home. He kept on, wandering for about seven years and then attained knowledge at the eight of 35 at Bodh Gaya under a pipal tree. From this time on words, he began to be called the Buddha or the The Englightened.

Gautama Buddha delivered his first sermons at Saranath in Banaras. Gautama Buddha passed away at the age of 80 in 483 BC at a place called Kusinagar, identical with the village called Kasia in the district of Deoria in eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Five Great Events In Buddha's Life And Their Symbols
Birth Lotus and bull
Great renunciation Horse
Nirvana Bodhi tree
First sermon Wheel (Dharma Chakra)
Parinirvana/Death Stupa

Teachings Of Buddha: Buddha said that the world is full of sorrows and people suffer on account of desires. If desires are conquerred, nirvana will be attained. He recommended an Eight-fold Path (astangika marga) for the elimination of human misery. It comprised: Right observation, Right determination, Right speech, Right action, Right livelihood, Right exercise, Right memory and Right meditation. Buddha also laid down a code of conduct for his followers. The main items in this social conduct are:
  1. do not take the property of others
  2. do not commit violence
  3. do not use intoxicants
  4. do not tell a lie
  5. do not indulge in corrupt practices.

The Buddha (The Englightened), Dhamma(The Doctrine) and Sangha(The order) are the three jewels of Buddhism. Buddhism does not recognise the existence of God and soul(atma). It particularly warned the support of lower orders as attacked the Varna system.

Buddhism People Division in Buddhism : Like Jainism, Buddhism also faced division. It was divided into three main sects:
  1. Hinayana or Lesser Vehicle :
    1. Its followers believed in the original teaching of Buddha.
    2. Distraught individual salvation through self-discipline and meditation.
    3. They did not believe in the Idol worship.
    4. Hinayana is a religion without God, Karma taking the place of God.
    5. Nirvana is regarded as the extinction of all.
    6. Pali, the languages of the masses, was used by Hinayana Buddhists.
    7. Ashoka Patronised Hinayanaism.
  2. Mahayana or Greater Vehicle :
    1. Its followers believed in the heavenliness of Buddha.
    2. It believes in the Idol worship.
    3. Mahayana had two Chief philosophical schools: the Madhyamika and Yogachara.
    4. Sanskrit, the language of scholars was used by Mahayana Buddhists.
    5. Kanishka patronised Mahayanism. Later Harsha supported it
  3. Vajrayana or Vehicel of Thunder Bolt :
    1. Its followers believed that salvation be best attained by acquiring the magical power, which they called Vajra.
    2. The chief divinites of this new sect were the Taras.
    3. It became popular in eastern India, particularly Bengal and Bihar.
    4. It was a form of Buddhism, which appeared in eastern India in the eighth century and was finally established in Tibet in 11th century, as a result of mission sent from the great Vajrayana monastery of Vikramshila.
Buddhism temple Buddhist Scriptures:
  1. The Vanaya Pitaka :1. It mainly deals with the rulers and regulations, which the Buddha promulgated. 2. It describes in detail the gradual development of the Sangha. 3. An account of the life and teachings of Buddha is also given.
  2. The Sutta Pitaka :1.IT consists of discourses delivered by Buddha himself on different occasions. 2. Few discourses delivered by Sariputta, Ananda, Moggalana and others are also included in it.
  3. The Abhidhamma Pitaka :1. It contains the pro-find philosophy of Buddha's teachings. 2. Investigates mind and matter, to help the understanding of things as they truly are.
  4. The Khandhakas :1. They contain regulations on the course for life in the monastic order and have two sections-the Mahavagga and the Cullavagga. The third part, the Parivara, is an insignificant composition by a Ceylonese monk.

The Important Buddhist Writers
Asvaghosha : Contemporary of Kanishka. He was poet, dramatist, musician, scholar and debator.
Nagarjuna : He was a friend of contemporary of Satvahana king Yajnasri Gautamiputra of Andhra.
Asanga and Vasubandhu : Two brothers who flourished in the Punjab region in the fourth century A.D. Asanga was the most important teacher of Yogachara or Vijnanavada school founded by his guru Maitreyanatha. Vasubandhu's greatest work, Abhidharmakosa is still considered an important encyclopaedia of Buddhism.
Buddhaghosa : Who lived in the fifth century A.D. was a great Pali scholar.
Dinnaga :The last mighty intellectual of the fifth century, also well known as the founder of the Buddhist logic.
Dharmakirti : Lived in the seventh century A.D.; was another great Buddhist logician, a subtle philosophical thinker and dialectician.

Buddhist Councils
No Venue (Year) Presiding Priest King Major Outcomes
First Satparni Rajagariha(483 BC) Mahakassapa Ajatashatru Upali, recited the Vinaya Pitaka, Which contains the rules of the Buddhist order; Anand, the other discipline of Buddha, recited Suttapitaka, containing the great collection of Buddha's sermons on matters of doctrine and ethical beliefs.
Second Vaishali (383 BC) Split of Buddhist border into theSthaviravadins or Theravadins and mahasanghikas over small points of monastic discipline.
Third Pataliputra(250 BC) Mogaliputta Tissa (also known as Upagupta) Ashoka Establishment of Sthaviravada School as an orthodox school.
Fourth Kundalvana, Kashmir(72 AD) Vasumitra; Asvaghosha was the deputy of Vasumitra Kanishka Division of Buddhism into the Mahayana and Hinayana sects

Spread of Buddhism: The use of Pali, the language of the people, contributed to the spread of Buddhism. It facilitated the spread of Buddhist doctrines among the common people. Gautama Buddha also organised the sangha for the religious order, whose doors work Open to everybody, irrespective of caste and sex. 200 years after the death of Buddha, the famous Maurya King Asoka embraced Buddhism. Through his agents, Asoka spread Buddhism into Central Asia, West Asia and Sri Lanka , and thus, transformed it into a world religion. King Kanishka became its patron in the first century A.D. Buddhism disappeared from the land of its birth, it continues to hold ground in the countries of South Asia, East Asia.

Decline of Buddhism: By the 12th century A.D., Buddhism became practically extinct in India. It became a victim to the evils of Brahmanism against which had fought in the beginning. Gradually, the Buddhist monks were cut off from the mainstream of peoples life; they gave up Pali, the language of the people, and took to Sanskrit, the language of intellectuals. The Hinduism was internally reformed and stressing upon love and devotion. From the first century A.D. Buddhist practised Idol worship on a large scale and received numerous offerings from devotees. Entry of woman in Buddhist sanghas, and the attacks of Huna King in the sixth century A.D. and the Turkish invaders in the 12th century A.D. brought rapid extinction of Buddhism.

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