Buddhism religion is on sixth rank in the world, having it's followers more than 300 millions. It is a religion and a phylosophy, which comprise of various traditions, practises and beliefs.
It is mainly based on teachings of Siddharth Gautam, well known as the Buddha, who lived some time between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE.
Buddhism was founded by Gautama Sakya Muni, the rebel child of Hinduism. It sprang up directly from Hinduism.Buddha had no intention to establish a new religion.
He made no new discovery, however, he was proclaiming only the ancient and pure form of religion which had prevailed among the Hindus.
Buddhism is the religion of earnest, undaunted effort. Buddha demands from you faith in your own Self, in your own latent forces.Without this faith, nothing can bachieved.
The first words of Buddha, after his Enlightenment, were - 'Wide open are the gates of Immortality'. Ye that ears to hear, release your faith. He is recognized by his foloowers as an awakened or enlightened teacher.
He shared his knowldge to help people to achieve nirvana and escape what is seen as a cycle of suffering and rebirth.
The pure and noble religion of the Vedas and the Upanishads had degenerated into dead forms, unmeaning rites and ceremonies. The Brahmins claimed honour merely by their birth.
Buddha Temple in India
They neglected the study of the Vedas and the practice of virtue. The Brahmins were treated in a good manner, while the Sudras (the servant class) had no respect.
The time when Buddha appeared, animals were slaughtered and sacrificed in Yajnas. His tender heart could not bear the shedding of so much innocent blood in the sacred name religion.
Buddha declared that merit and not birth, determined the position of a man in society. The illtreated Sudras joined him in large numbers and he unconsciously became the founder of a new faith.
There are two major branches of Buddhism, such as - Theravada (The School of the Elders) and Mahayana (The Great Vehicle).
Theravada is the oldest surviving branch, which has a widespread followers in Sri Lannka and Southeast Asia, whereas, Mahayana is found throughout east Asia.
In some classifications Vajrayana, which is practiced in Tibet and Mongolia, is recognized as a third branch and -A subcategory of Mahayana.
Buddhism is maximum followed within Asia, however both the branches are followed throughout the world. The number of Buddhists worldwide vary significantly according to the way Buddhist followership is defined.
The Lower numbers are between 300-500 million. However, if Chinese belt is considered, then the number would range from 1-1.6 billion.
The foundations of Buddhist tradition and practice are the Three Jewls - "the Buddha", "the Dharma" (the teachings), and "the Sangha" (the community).
Taking "Refuge in the triple gem" is a commitment to being on the Buddhist path and generally distinguishes a Buddhist from a non - Buddhist.
Buddha is one of the greatest spiritual teachers of mankind India has produced. He is honoured as the "Light of Asia".Buddha's teachings and messages have captured the hearts and minds of billions of people inside and outside India.
The capital Kapilavastu was situated at the foot of Himalayas, ruled by the king Shuddhodana. Siddharth was his son who was prophesied by a royal astrologer that he would become either a famous emperor or a world-renowned ascetic.
king Shuddhodana was worried that his son should not take to the thorny path and took precautions to keep him away from such temptations of ascetic life.
Siddhartha never knew the sorrows, miseries and tensions of life. One day when he became a grown up boy, he desired to see the capital.
The king Shuddhodan took all the steps to make the city very joyous and interesting, so that wherever Siddharth would go, he will have only pleasing sights and experience.
It was then, an old and crippled man sitting by the roadside who came into the view of the prince. Siddharth had never seen such a person before with a sunken face, a toothless mouth, the whole body bent and totally streghthless.
Shocked with sight, the prince asked the charioteer, who that person was. The charioter, Chenna informed him that he is a very old man.
He was very healthy in his youth and Chenna further convinced him that every human being had to become like him after the youthful days are gone.
The sad prince returned to the palace, deeply engrossed in various thoughts. The king Shuddhodan wanted to cheer up his spirits and he again ordered for his son's visit to the capital.
This time the prince Siddhartha saw a dead body being carried for the cremation. But Chenna, the charioteer again convinced him that the human beings were prone to illness and that the death is iunavoidable.
On his next visit, coincidently Siddhartha saw a person with his face beaming tranquility and heard from Chenna that he was an ascetic.
He had triumphed over the worldly temptations, worries, fears, sorrows and attained the highest bliss of life. And that was it.
It was the time when Siddharth was hardly twenty-nine years by age, when in the full bloom of youth in the midnight of a full-moon day, he left everyone.
He left his dear parents, his beloved wife Yashodhara, loving little child Rahul, all the royal luxuries and left for the forest to seek for himself answers for the riddles of human miseries.
Siddhartha wandered in the forests for seven years, underwent severe austerities and finally, on the Vaishaakha Purnima Day, the supreme light of Realisation dawned on him and thereafter he became Buddha, the Enlightened One.
He was called Gautama when he was traveller monk and now he became popular as Gautam Buddha. Buddha's overflowing love for the needy and destitute, was the greatest factor for social harmony and justice to the weaker sections in the society.
Buddha is revered as an Avataar of God by Hindus. The spiritual and moral forces generated by Buddha have strengthened and enriched Hinduism and Buddha.
Gaya where he attained his supreme enlightenment is one of the most sanctified places of pilgrimage for all the hindus.
Buddha denounced the animal sacrifices in the yajnas and yagas and himself stood as the very embodiment of compassion to all living beings.
Largest Buddha Statue In China
The influence of Buddha's teachings spiritually elevated several races all over the world which includes - Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Syria, Egypt, Brahmadesh, Siam, Cambodia, Laos. Also,
Vietnam, Malaya, China, Korea, Japan, Tibet, Cochin, China, Sumatra and Java. All these countries revere Buddha as their supreme spiritual leader and teacher.
Buddha passed into eternity at the age of eighty, after completing his Sahasra Chandra Darshana i.e. 1000 full moon days, on the full moon day of Vaishaakh,which is the day of his birth as also of his Enlightenment.
The Teachings Of Buddha
Buddhism also advocated the doctrines of Karma and reincarnation. Buddha preached that the soul goes through many incarnations before it finally sheds all its Karma and is reunited to its pure state.
He called this state Nirvana. This is a state where all the desires and cravings of the mind become extinct and a state of total, uninterrupted bliss is experienced.
What is notable about Buddhism is the absence of a personal Creator or God in its tenets. While Buddha did not deny the existence of God.
He preached that the universe is guided and governed by a Supreme Power that did not possess a name or form. Consequently, all rites and rituals became defunct.
Gautama Buddha delivered his first sermon in the Pali language, on the banks of the river Ganges at Varanasi, India. He delivered his lecture to only five men.
They experienced Buddha glowed with a brilliant inner radiance and became his first followers. Later on, Buddha was involved in a larger crowd and instructed them to spread his message all over.
The Four Noble Truths of Buddha
1. The world is full of suffering and sorrow.
2. The cause of suffering is desire.
3. The renunciation of desires will lead to salvation from the world, and
4. The path to salvation can be achieved by following The Eight-Fold Path.
The Eight Fold Path
1) Right Knowledge means a basic and thorough understanding of the Four Noble Truths.
2) Right Attitude means having an unselfish and mentally healthy attitude to life, free from hatred
3) Right Speech means speaking words that are good and true. One should not lie or gossip.
4) Right Action means always conducting oneself in a way that does not harm, hurt nor displease anyone. Adultery, cheating, stealing and murder are specifically denounced.
5) Right Means of Livelihood means that one must always strive to earn one's livelihood by honest means.
6) Right Effort means one should conscientiously strive to develop good tendencies and destroy negative inclinations.
7) Right Awareness means we should introspect about our inclinations and not give in easily to temptation.
8) Right Meditation means working towards training your mind towards intense concentration, which, in turn, will lead to salvation.
O Keshava !
O Lord of the universe !
O Lord Hari, who have assumed the form of Buddha !
All glories to You ! O Buddha of compassionate heart,
you decry the slaughtering of poor animals
performed according to the rules of Vedic Sacrifice !