Buddhism

buddhism beliefs four noble truths Buddhist Texts life of buddha

  • Gautam Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha at Lumbini near Kapilavastu (in present Nepal) in 563 BC.
  • He was the son of Suddhodhana and Mahamaya.
  • Suddhodhana was the chief of the Sakya clan (gana).
  • Due to this, the Gautam Buddha was also known as ‘Sakyamuni’.
  • His mother died either giving birth to him or after seven days.
  • Siddhartha was brought up by his maternal aunt, Prajapati Gautami.
  • This gave him the name ‘Gautama’.

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gautam buddha

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  • Gautam Buddha was married to Yashodhara and had a son, Rahula.
  • He left his home at the age of 29 to become an ascetic.
  • This event is called Mahabhishkramana.
  • The idea of renunciation occurred to the Buddha after he saw four different states of man – sick man, old man, a corpse and an ascetic.
  • Gautam Buddha wandered for seven years and at the age of 35 attained enlightenment at Uruvela while meditating under a banyan tree on the banks of the river Niranjana.
  • This tree came to be known as ‘Bodhi tree’ and the place became Bodh Gaya (in Bihar).
  • Gautam Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath near Varanasi.
  • This event is called Dharmachakra Pravartana / Dhammachakkappavattana.
  • Gautam Buddha died in 483 BC under a Sal tree in Kushinagar (in UP).
  • This event is called Mahaparinirvana.
  • The term ‘Buddha’ means ‘enlightened one’.
  • Important contemporaries of the Buddha were Mahavira Jaina, Kings Prasenjit, Bimbisara and Ajatasatru.

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Three Jewels – Triratnas

  • Buddha (the enlightened)
  • Dhamma (doctrine)
  • Sangha (order)

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Four Noble truths (Arya Satya) 

  1. Dukkha (the world is full of sorrow)
  2. Dukkha Samuddaya (that causes the sorrow)
  3. Dukkha Nirodha (sorrow can be stopped)
  4. Dukkha Nirodhagamini-pratipada (the path leading to the cessation of sorrow)
  • The ultimate aim of life is to attain Nirvana, which means freedom, from further birth and death.
  • Nirvana is the eternal state of peace and bliss or liberation from the cycle of birth and death
  • Gautam Buddha had summarized the whole process in three words
    • Seela (Right conduct),
    • Samadhi (Right concentration)
    • Prajna (Right knowledge).
  • According to Gautam Buddha, Seela and Samadhi lead to Prajna, which is the direct cause of nirvana.
  • Gautam Buddha advocated “The Middle Path” in which extremes are avoided.
  • Gautam Buddha visited to the Deer Park (modern Sarnath), Kasi after his enlightenment and gave his first Sermon (lecture).
  • His first sermon was known as “Set in Motion, the Wheel of Law”.

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buddhism

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Buddhist Councils

1st Council

  • Conducted under the patronage of King Ajatasatru of Haryanka dynasty.
  • It was held in 483 BC just after Buddha’s demise.
  • It was held in Sattapani caves (Sattaparnaguha) in Rajagriha.
  • A monk who presided over the first council was Mahakassapa.
  • The main objective was to preserve the Buddha’s teachings.
  • At this council, Ananda composed the Suttapitaka (Buddha’s Teachings)
  • Mahakassapa composed the Vinaypitaka (monastic code).

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2nd Council

  • Conducted under the patronage of King Kalasoka of Sisunaga dynasty.
  • It was held in 383 BC, 100 years after the Buddha’s death.
  • It was held at Vaishali.
  • 2nd council was presided over by Sabakami.
  • The main objective was to discuss ten disputed points under the Vinaypitaka.
  • Major split happened here – two groups that would later evolve into Theravada and Mahayana.
  • The first group was called Thera (meaning Elder in Pali). They wanted to preserve the teachings of Gautam Buddha in the original spirit.
  • The other group called Mahasanghika (Great Community) interpreted the Buddha’s teachings more liberally.

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3rd Council

  • Conducted under the patronage of Emperor Ashoka of Maurya dynasty.
  • It was held in 250 BC at Pataliputra.
  • Mogaliputta Tissa presided over the council.
  • Main objective was to purify Buddhism from opportunistic factions and corruption in the Sangha.
  • The Abhidhamma Pitaka was composed here making the almost completion of the modern Pali Tipitaka.
  • Buddhist missionaries were sent to other countries.
  • Buddhism preached by Emperor Ashoka was Hinayana.

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4th Council

  • Conducted under the patronage of King Kanishka of Kushan dynasty.
  • It was held in the 1st century AD at Kundalvana in Kashmir.
  • It was presided over by Vasumitra and Ashvaghosha.
  • All deliberations were conducted in Sanskrit.
  • Here, Abhidhamma texts were translated from Prakrit to Sanskrit.
  • This council resulted in the division of Buddhism into two sects namely
    • Mahayana (the Greater Vehicle)
    • Hinayana (the Lesser Vehicle)
  • Mahayana sect believed in idol worship, rituals and Boddhisattvas. They regarded the Gautam Buddha as God.
  • Hinayana continued the original teachings and practices of the Gautam Buddha.
  • They adhere to the scriptures written in Pali while the Mahayana includes Sanskrit scriptures as well.

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gautam buddha images

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Buddhist Texts

  • The most important sources of Buddhism are the Tripitakas / Tipitakas written in Pali language. They are:
    1. Sutta Pitaka
    2. Vinaya Pitaka
    3. Abhidhamma Pitaka
  • Dhammapada
    • A part of the Khuddaka Nikaya of the Sutta Pitaka.
    • It contains a collection of the sayings of Gautam Buddha in verse form.
  • Milinda Panha
    • Literal meaning in Pali – Questions of Milinda.
    • It was written around 100 BC.
    • It contains a dialogue between the Indo-Greek King Menander I or Milinda of Bactria and sage Nagasena
    • Milinda asks questions on Buddhism to the sage.
  • Buddhacharita
    • It is an epic poem composed in Sanskrit by Ashvaghosha in early 2nd century AD.
    • It is about the life of the Gautam Buddha.

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Famous Monks at the time of Gautam Buddha

  • Ananda – constant companion of Buddha and most devoted disciple
  • Anurddha – master of right mindfulness
  • Mahakassapa – president of Buddhist council held at Rajagriha
  • Moggallana – he had the greatest super natural powers
  • Sariputta – possessed the profound insight into the dhamma
  • Upali – master of Vinaya

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Famous Buddhist Scholars

  • Ashvagosha – contemporary of Kanishka, poet, dramatist, musician
  • Nagarjuna – friend and contemporary  of Satavahana kings
  • Assanga and Vasubandhu > “Abhidaramakosa” encyclopedia of Buddhism – brothers
  • Buddhagosha – pali scholar “Visuddhimaga” > post- tripitaka literature
  • Dinnaga – founder of Buddhist logic
  • Dharmakirti – philosophical thinker and dialectician

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Hinayana Buddhism

  • The Oldest school – Sthaviravada (Theravada in Pali)
  • Sanskrit – sarvastivada or doctrine which maintains the existence of all things , physical as well as mental
  • From sarvastivada or vaibhasika branched off another school – Sautantrika >> more critical in outlook
  • Pali – language of masses used by Hinayana Buddhists
  • Ashoka patronised Hinayanism

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Mahayana Buddhism

  • Idol worship
  • Madhyamika – Nagarjuna – midway between uncompromising realism of Hinayanism and idealism of Yogacharya
  • Yogacharya – Maitreyanatha – rejected the realism of Hinayanism and maintained absolute idealism
  • Sanskrit  was used by Mahayana Buddhists
  • Chief philosophical schools – Madhyamika, Yogachara
  • Kanishka patronised Mahayanism later Harsha supported it
  • Maitreya (Sanskrit), Metteyya (Pali), is regarded as a future Buddha of this world in Buddhist eschatology. In some Buddhist literature, such as the Amitabha Sutra and the Lotus Sutra, he is referred to as Ajita.
  • Guru Padma Samvaba called as 2nd Buddha

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buddhist monastery
Drepung Gomang Monastery, China

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Famous Buddhist Monasteries in India

Namgyal Monastery

  • Located in the Dharamshala district of Himachal Pradesh.
  • Namgyal Monastery is associated with the Dalai Lamas
  • Its is one of the major tourist attraction along with the lakes, Kangra valley and McLeodGanj.

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Thikse Monastery

  • Located near the Leh in the Indus valley of Ladakh.

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Hemis Monastery

  • Located in Ladakh and has rich collection of ancient remnants.
  • Famous Hemis gompa festival is celebrated here every year with many attractions like Mask Dances of Ladakh and tantric worship from Monks.

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Shashur Monastery

  • Located in the Lahaul valley of Spiti in Himachal Pradesh.
  • Shashur Monastery is one of the ancient monastery and covered with blue pines around it.

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Mindrolling Monastery

  • Located in the Clement Town near to Rajaji National Park in Dehradun district of Uttarakhand.
  • It has one of incredibly the tallest statue of Lord Buddha with an height of 107 ft and one of the tallest stupa in India.

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Ghum Monastery

  • Situated at the hill regions of Eastern Himalaya range in Darjeeling, West Bengal.
  • Ghum Monastery is known as Yogachoeling Gompa is the oldest Tibetan Buddhist monastery

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Rumtek Monastery

  • located at the hilltop of Gangtok, Sikkim.
  • Rumtek Monastery is one of the largest in the state and surrounding with beautiful area.

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Tawang Monastery

  • The Largest Monastery in India, located in the Tawang Town of Arunachal Pradesh
  • Tawang Monastery also known in Tibetan as Galden Namgey Lhatse
  • The Largest Buddhist monastery in India and 2nd largest in world
  • Tawang also gives you one of the top 51 reason to visit north-east India.

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