(Last Updated on : 18/04/2014)
Buddha spent rest of his life in propagation of his religion. Gautama Buddha
said to have traveled in Gangetic plain, now Uttar Pradesh
and southern Nepal and taught his doctrine to his disciples. Buddha taught an extreme diverse range of people, from nobles and royals to the outcaste street sweepers, mass murderers like Angulimala and cannibals like Alavaka. His religion also incorporated many adherents of rival philosophies and religions.
Buddha founded the Sangha or the community where Buddhist monks and nuns used to live after their 'Parinirvana' or 'Complete Nirvana' and also converted thousands of other people. Buddha's religion was open to all races and classes and creed and had no caste structure. The other religious groups opposed Buddha and sometimes murders and infamy were also attempted on him.
Buddhist Sangha was not stationary; it traveled from place to place of India disseminating the 'Dharma'. This occurred throughout the year, except during the four months of the Vassana or the rainy season since due to heavy amount of rainfall or flood travelling was difficult. Moreover the ascetics of all that religion did not travel at rainy season, as it was difficult to not to kill the submerged animal life unwillingly by stepping on them while walking. So during the rainy season The Sangha retreated at a monastery, Public Park and people would come to them to listen to religious advice.
After Buddha attained the enlightenment the first Vassana was spent at Varanasi, when the Sangha was first formed. After this, he traveled to Rajagaha, the capital of Magadha kingdom to visit the King Bimbisara as he promised him to return to his kingdom after attaining enlightenment. During that period, Sariputta and Mahamoggallana were converted into his religion by Assaji, one of the first five disciples. Later Sariputta
and Mahamoggallana became Buddha's two foremost disciples. Buddha then spent the next three seasons at Veluvana or Bamboo Grove monastery in Rajagaha, the capital of Magadha. This monastery was not far away from the center of the city and was donated by King Bimbisara.
When Buddha's father King Suddhodana heard about the enlightenment of Buddha and sent royal delegates to ask Buddha to return to Kapilavastu
. Nine delegates were sent from time to time but all of them joined the Sangha and became the Arahants. They did not convey their messages as they neglected worldly matters. The tenth delegation was led by Kaludayi, who was a childhood friend of Gautama Buddha. Kaludayi could successfully convey the message before he became the arahants (ascetic). Buddha agreed as it was not the time of Vassana and after two years of his enlightenment, he took a journey of two months to his motherland by foot. Buddha preached the Dharma along his way. When he reached the royal palace arranged for the lunch but since nobody made any specific invitation, the arahants of Sangha started begging alms in the city of Kapilvastu. Hearing this Suddhodana went to Buddha and said that in their warrior lineage no single man had ever sought alms. Buddha replied that this might not be the custom of the royal heritage but this was the custom of his Buddha lineage and several thousands of Buddhists live by seeking alms.
invited back the Sangha to the royal palace for meal, which was followed by a Dharma talk after which he became 'Sotapanna'. During the visit of Buddha many members of the royal family joined the Sangha. Buddha's cousins Ananda and Anuruddha were converted and they later became two of his five chief disciples. Buddha's son Rahula
also joined the Sangha at the age of seven and was one of the chief ten disciples. Buddha's half brother Nanda also became arahant after joining the Sangha. Another cousin of Buddha named Devadatta
became the ascetic, who later became Buddha's enemy and tried to kill him in multiple occasions.
Sariputta, Mahamoggallana, Mahakashyapa, Ananda and Anuruddha were the five chief Disciples of Lord Buddha. Next to them Upali
, Subhoti, Rahula, Mahakaccana and Punna were the most important disciples of Buddha.
In the fifth rainy season Buddha was staying at Mahavana near Vesali. There he got the news of impending death of his father Suddhodana. Buddha went to his father and preached him the Dharma and Suddhodana became an arahant before his death. The death and cremation of Suddhodana led to the creation of the order for nuns. Buddhist text records that he was first against to ordain women as nuns. Buddha's foster mother MahaPrajapati approached him asking to join the sangha, but Buddha refused her and went back to Rajagaha. Maha Prajapati was so eager to join the Sangha that she led a group of royal Sakyan and Koliyan ladies and reached the Sangha of Rajagaha. Buddha finally agreed to accept the women in Sangha only after Anand intermediated for the women. Thus five years after the Sangha was established Buddha gave permission to the women to join it. The women Arahants had the equal right and capacity as the men monks but Buddha advised them to follow certain additional rules to follow, which was named as Vinaya. Yashodhara also became a nun in the Sangha of Buddha.
Buddha's cousin Devadatta was not an Arahant and tried many times to sabotage Buddha. Once Devadatta asked Buddha to stand aside and give him the opportunity to lead the Sangha. Buddha declined it and stated that Devadatta's action did not reflect the triple gem. Devadatta had a conspiracy with prince Ajatsatru, son of Bimbisara to kill both Buddha and Bimbisara. Devadatta took three times attempt to kill Buddha. The first attempt he made by hiring a group of archers, who became disciples of lord Buddha after meeting him. The second attempt was Devadatta tried to roll down a large bolder down the hill to hit Buddha. But the bolder hit another rock and splintered, only small pieces of it grazed at the foot of Buddha. Devadatta took the final attempt by making one elephant drunk with alcohol and setting it free in front of Buddha. But this plan also failed as the elephant became quiet when it saw Buddha. As all of his plans were in vein, Devadatta tried to cause a split in the Sangha by proposing extra restriction to Vinaya. When Buddha declined his proposal Devadatta started criticizing Buddha's strictness. At first devadatta was able to convert some of the Bhikkus in his own way but Sariputta and Mahamoggallana expounded the dharma to them and succeeded in winning them back. Thus Devadatta was failed in all his missions.
When Buddha reached the age of fifty-five he made Ananad his chief attendant.