(Last Updated on : 22/03/2016)
Buddhism evolved from Kapilabastu (Nepal), the birth place of Gautama Buddha
and later from early India. The spreading of Buddhism dates back to 6th century B.C.
Concept of Buddhism
Buddhism is a religious canon that propagates religious tolerance. This religion largely covers the practices, traditions and beliefs based on Gautama Buddha's teachings. It promotes the concepts of anicca, anatta and dependent origination.
Importance of Buddhism
Buddhism is important for an individual to rise above the mundane attachments to attain salvation. The ways to attain it are laid down by the founder of this path Gautama Buddha. It is widely believed that his principles, teachings and philosophy are the ways through which one can be liberated. However, Buddhist schools differ on the accurate nature of the path to liberation, the importance of the several teachings as well as scriptures and their particular practices. Early Buddhism is not an absolutely original doctrine. It is no freak in the evolution of Indian thought. Buddhism grew and flourished within the fold of orthodox belief.
Foundation of Buddhism
The founder of Buddhism, Lord Buddha
was the one who was responsible for propagating the doctrines of Buddhism. Born at Lumbini, in the territory of the Sakya republic, of wealthy patrician stock, Lord Buddha went forth 'from home into the homeless life' at the age of twenty-nine, attained supreme enlightenment at Bodh Gaya
at the age of 25 years, and passed away at Kusinagara at the age of eighty. During his lifetime his teaching spread throughout the kingdoms of Magadha
and Kosala, as well as in the circumlocution principalities and republics. He is also known as Shakyamuni and his birth, teachings, death and the rules for the Sangha are to be found in the Buddhist canons. According to some modern scholars Lord Buddha was a human teacher whom the devotion of his followers turned into a god. Based as it is on assumptions quite different from those of Buddhism, such an interpretation of an important doctrinal development must be rejected outright. Within the context of a non-theistic religion the concept of deification has no meaning. The Buddha claimed to be a fully enlightened human being, superior even to the gods, and as such he has invariably been regarded.
Teaching of Gautama Buddha
The teachings of Buddha
, steeped in spiritual aura are a step-by-step way towards lasting happiness. The four noble truths and the noble eight fold paths which are the cornerstone of Buddhism and also the fundamental idea of Buddha's teachings are the simplest ways to understand the very essence of Buddhism. These are the principles which Gautama Buddha realised while he was meditating.
Four Noble Truth of Gautama Buddha
The Four Noble Truths comprise the Nature of suffering, the Origin of Suffering or Samudaya, the Cessation of Suffering or Nirodha and the Way that leads to the Cessation of Suffering. The doctrine of the noble eightfold truth contours the very foundation on which the later philosophies of Buddhism evolved. Buddha preached that if one follows these principles then he would definitely attain enlightenment.
Dharma in Buddhism
All these facts are of far-reaching consequence. In the first place, the Dharma in Buddhism
having been orally taught, there intervened between the Parinirvana
of the Buddha and the committing of his teaching to writing a period of oral transmission lasting two or three centuries in the case of some scriptures, and much longer in the case of others. Then the fact that the monks had been authorised to learn and teach the Buddha's message in their own dialects meant that the Dharma was from the beginning extant in a number of linguistic forms, so that, when finally it did come to be written down, this was done not in one language only but in many. Thus, it is said, the Canon of the Mahasanghikas was in Prakrit, that of the Sthaviravadins in Paisaci, that of the Pudgalavadins in Apabhramsa, and that of the Sarvastivadins in Sanskrit language
Spreading of Buddhism in India
Hence when Buddhism spread outside India it came about that the Scriptures were translated into the language of those countries where the message was preached, into Chinese, Tibetan, Uighur, and so on. At no time, not even when Buddhism was confined to north-eastern India, was there any one canonical language for all Buddhists. In Buddhism, therefore, the spiritual life consists essentially in the following of a path, the successive steps and stages of which have been carefully mapped out by tradition in accordance with the spiritual experience of the Buddha and his disciples, both immediate and remote. As temperaments and methods of practice differ, this path can be formulated in various ways and the number and order of its constituent factors determined and described from various points of view. The architectonic of the Path, however, does not vary, and they reveal the same basic structure. This architectonic is most clearly exhibited in the formula of the Three Trainings (trisiksha
), namely Morality (Ma
), Meditation (samadhi
), and Wisdom (prajna
), which according to one tradition was the recurrent theme of the discourses delivered by the Buddha.
Traditional View of Gautam Buddhas Religion
From the traditional point of view Buddhism begins with the believer going for refuge to the Three Jewels (triratna
), the Buddha, the Doctrine (Dharma
) and the Community of monks (Sangha
). As the first of these, the Buddha himself, although there is no longer any doubt about his historical existence, the exact dates of his birth and Parinirvana (his physical death) are still the subject of controversy. In all probability those given by the Ceylon chronicles, the Dipavamsa and the Mahavamsa (excluding its continuation the Culavamsa, the dates of which are sixty years out), equivalent to 563-483 B.C.
Buddhism Pilgrimage Centres in India
There are several Buddhist pilgrimage centres in India as well as in other Asian countries. Starting from his birth town to the place where he attained Parinirvana, all the important places involving the life of Lord Buddha or Gautama Buddha are vital religious centres for the Buddhists. While some are crucial because Buddha had visited there others are important because of the Buddhist temples or because of Buddha's disciples. The most important Buddhist pilgrimage centres in India are Champanagar
, Hajipur Cave
, Lauria Nandangarh
, Lumbini, Khandagiri and many other places in India.