Gautam Buddha founded Buddhism and is known as Supreme Buddha. He was born in Lumbini, a little principality of Kapilvastu in modern day Nepal.
Buddhahood or Buddhatva is the state of perfect enlightment attained by a Buddha. This refers to the universal and innate property of absolute wisdom.
Symbols of 5 great events of Buddha’s Life:
• Buddha’s Birth: Lotus & Bull.
• The Great Departure (Mahabhinishkramana): Horse.
• Enlightment (Nirvana): Bodhi Tree.
• First Sermon (Dhammachakraparivartan): Wheel.
• Death (Parinirvana): Stupa.
Four Noble Truths:
Four noble truths were taught by Buddha in Dhammachakraparivartan. They are the core teachings of Buddhism.
• Sorrow: The world is full of sorrow and everything from birth to death brings sorrows in life.
• Cause of Sorrow: The cause of sorrows is desire. It is the un-fulfillment of human desires which leads him to the vicious cycle of births and rebirths.
• Prevention of Sorrow: It is possible to prevent sorrow. Man can get rid of sorrow by triumphing over the desires.
• The path of Prevention of Sorrow: Man can avoid sorrow by avoiding extremes of life and following middle path or Madhyam Patipada. The life of moderation and self control along with pursuance of 8 fold path is essential to prevent the sorrow.
The Eightfold Path of Buddhism:
They are also called the Middle Path and is the system of following these eight divisions of the path to achieve spiritual enlightenment and cease suffering:
• Right understanding: Understanding that the Four Noble Truths are noble and true.
• Right thought: Determining and resolving to practice Buddhist faith.
• Right speech: Avoiding slander, gossip, lying, and all forms of untrue and abusive speech.
• Right conduct: Adhering to the idea of nonviolence (ahimsa), as well as refraining from any form of stealing or sexual impropriety.
• Right means of making a living: Not slaughtering animals or working at jobs that force you to violate others.
• Right mental attitude or effort: Avoiding negative thoughts and emotions, such as anger and jealousy.
• Right mindfulness: Having a clear sense of one’s mental state and bodily health and feelings.
• Right concentration: Using meditation to reach the highest level of enlightenment.
• Tripitaka: Tripitaka or Three Baskets is a traditional term used for various Buddhist scriptures. It is known as pali Canon in English. The three pitakas are Sutta Pitaka, Vinaya Pitaka and Abhidhamma Pitaka.
• Sutta Pitaka: It contains over 10 thousand suttas or sutras related to Buddha and his close companions. This also deals with the first Buddhist council which was held shortly after Buddha’s death, dated by the majority of recent scholars around 400 BC, under the patronage of king Ajatasatru with the monk Mahakasyapa presiding, at Rajgir.
• Vinaya Pitaka: The subject matter of Vinay Pitaka is the monastic rules for monks and nuns. It can also be called as Book of Discipline.
• Abhidhammapitaka: It deals with the philosophy and doctrine of Buddhism appearing in the suttas. However, it does not contain the systematic philosophical treatises. There are 7 works of Abhidhamma Pitaka which most scholars agree that don’t represent the words of Buddha himself.
Some terminologies associated with Buddhism
• Nirvana: The concept of Nirvana in Buddhism is entirely different from the Hinduism. Buddhism denied the concept of Moksha, however it defines Nirvana has to getting rid of Cycle of Death and birth. It is achieved in the lifetime itself and not after death. To achieve nirvana one should follow moral code of Conduct.
• Jatakas: Jatakas are very much close to folklore literature and they contain the tales of previous births of Buddha in poems. The Jataka have also ben mentioned in the Khuddaka Nikaya. There are 547 poems.
• Buddha Charita: Buddha Charita is an epic style Sanskrit work by Ashavaghosa and was compiled in second century BC. Dharmaraksa who is known to have translated many works of Buddhism in Chinese, translated this work in Chinese in 420AD. It mainly deals with Buddha’s Life. Asvaghosa also wrote a Sanskrit Drama “Sariputra Prakaran” which deals about Sariputta or Sariputra the disciple of Buddha.
• Bodhi Vamsa: Bodhi Vamsa is a mix Sanskrit Pali text which was composed by Upatissa under the rule of Mahinda IV of Sri Lanka in 10th century AD. It describes the arrival of branch of Bodhi tree in Sri Lanka and many other things which mentioned in Mahavamsa.
a) Hînayâna is the orthodox, conservative schools of Buddhism
b) Don’t believe in Idol Worship and try to attain individual salvation through self discipline and meditation.
c) Asoka Patronized Hinayana
d) Pali the language of masses was use by the Hinayana scholars.
e) It is the dominant form of religion in Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Burma.
a) Mahayana Buddhism, also known as the Great Vehicle, is the form of Buddhism prominent in North Asia, including China, Mongolia, Tibet, Korea, and Japan.
b) This sect believes in the heavenliness of Buddha and believes in Idol Worship.
c) Fundamental principles of Mahayana doctrine were based on the possibility of universal liberation from suffering for all beings (hence the “Great Vehicle”) and the existence of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas embodying Buddha Nature.
d) It allows salvation to be alternatively obtained through the grace of the Amitâbha Buddha by having faith and devoting oneself to mindfulness of the Buddha. This sect believes in Mantras.
e) The main Mahayana sects include Pure Land, Zen, and Vajrayana (or Tantric) Buddhism.
• Vajrayana Buddhism
a) The Vajrayana tradition of Buddhism spread to China, Mongolia, and Tibet.
b) Vajrayana Buddhists recognise a large body of Buddhist Tantras, some of which are also included in Chinese and Japanese collections of Buddhist literature, and versions of a few even in the Pali Canon.
• Zen Buddhism
a) Zen Buddhism pronounced Chan in Chinese, seon in Korean or Zen in Japanese (derived from the Sanskrit term dhyana, meaning “meditation”) is a form of Buddhism that became popular in China, Korea and Japan and that lays special emphasis on meditation.
b) Zen places less emphasis on scriptures than some other forms of Buddhism and prefers to focus on direct spiritual breakthroughs to truth.
c) Zen Buddhist teaching is often full of paradox, in order to loosen the grip of the ego and to facilitate the penetration into the realm of the True Self or Formless Self, which is equated with the Buddha himself.
• Bodhisattva: A Bodhisattva means one who has essence of enlightment. Anyone who has a spontaneous wish to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all is a Bodhisattva. It’s a very popular subject in Buddhist art. A bodhisattva is bound to enlightment and refers to all who are destined to become Buddhas in this life or another life. There are celestial bodhisattvas which are manifestations of Gautam Buddha.
• Buddhist Shrines: Astamahasthanas: These are 8 great holy places. They are as follows:
a) Lumbini: Birth of Buddha.
b) Bodhgaya: Enlightment of Buddha.
c) Sarnath: First sermon or Dhammachakraparivartan.
d) Kushinagar: Death or mahaparinirvana.
Along with them, Sravasti, Sankasya, Rajgir and Vaishali are known as Astamahasthanas.
• Religious places:
c) Ajanta Caves
d) Angkor Wat (Cambodia)
e) Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya
f) Borobudur (Indonesia)
g) Bamyan Caves (Afghanistan)
h) Ellora Caves
Royal Patronage to Buddhism
Emperor Asoka Maurya, Kanishka, ruler of Magadha emperor Bimbisara from India and Countries like Laos, Cambodia, Tibet, Thailand, some parts of China, Japan and Malaysia gave royal patronage to Buddhism.
A Jain is a follower of Jina. A Jina is a victor or Conqueror. The Jains are followers of certain ascetics who obtained omniscience and who preached a doctrine which promises a super mundane bliss of eternal salvation. Jainism originated centuries before Buddhism, but revived by Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankar of Jainism.
A Tirtha is a religious pilgrim place. A Tirthankara is a founder of a Tirtha. He achieves the enlightment and then shows the path to others. A Tirthankar achieves Moksha or liberation at the end of his human life. There are 24 Tirthankaras of Jainism. The first Tirthankara was Rishabhdev and Last 24th Tirthankara was Mahavira.
Kundagrama where Mahavira was born is located in Muzaffarpur Bihar.
The most notable text about Mahavira is Kalpasutra by Acharya Bhadrabahu I. The first Sanskrit biography of Mahavira was Vardhamacharitra by Asaga.
3 jewels of Jainism:
1. Right faith
2. Right knowledge
3. Right conduct
The principles of Jainism as preached by Mahavir-
1. Rejected the authority of Vedas & Vedic rituals
2. Did not believe in the existence of god.
3. Believed in karma & the transmigration of soul.
4. Lead great infancies on equality
Around 300 century B.C Jainism was divided into 2 parts:
Svetambara (white-clad) is a term describing its ascetics practice of wearing white clothes, which sets it apart from the Digambara (sky-clad) Jainas, whose ascetic practitioners go naked. Svetambara, unlike Digambaras, do not believe that ascetics must practice nudity.
Svetambaras also believe that women are able to obtain moksha. They maintain that the 19th Tirthankara, Mallinath, was a woman.
The Svetambara tradition follows the lineage of Acharya Sthulibhadra Suri. The Kalpa Sutra mentions some of the lineages in ancient times. The Svetambara monastic orders are branches of the Vrahada Order, which was founded in 937 AD. The most prominent among the classical orders today are the Kharatara (founded 1024 AD), the Tapa (founded 1228 AD) and the Tristutik.
It is one of the two main sects of Jainism. The Digambar sect of Jainism rejects the authority of the Jain Agama compiled by Sthulabhadra. They believe that by the time of Dharasena, the twenty-third teacher after Gandhar Gautama, knowledge of only one Anga was there.
According to Digambar tradition, Mahavir, the last Jain tirthankara, never married. He renounced the world at the age of thirty after taking permission of his parents. The Digambara believe that after attaining enlightenment, Mahavira was free from human activities like hunger, thirst, and sleep. Monks in the Digambar tradition do not wear any clothes. They carry only a broom made up of fallen peacock feathers and a water gourd.
One of the most important scholar-monks of Digambara tradition was Acharya Kundakunda. He authored Prakrit texts such as Samayasar and Pravachansar. Samantabhadra and Siddhasena Divakara were other important monks of this tradition.
First Council was held at Patliputra by Suthabhandra in the beginning of 3rd century BC & resulted in the compilation of 12 Angas.
Second council was held at Vallabhi in the 5th century BC under the leadership of Devardhi kashmashravan & resulted in the final compilation of 12 Angas & 12 Upangas.
Royal Patrons of Jainism:
Asoka’s Grandson Samprati King Kharvela of Orissa: set up jain rock cut cave. Gangs, Kadambs, Chalukyas, Rastrakutas had patronized Jainism. King Amoghavarsha of Rastrakuta dynasty became a Jain Monk. He wrote Ratnamalika. The Chalukyan period rock cut caves at badami and aihole have the figures of Jain Tirthankaras. Samatabhadra in Kanchi preached this religion. The Dilwara Jain temples at Mount Abu were built by Chalukya Dynasty kings between 11 to 13th century.
It is called Jain Agamas. They are canonical texts of Jainism based on Mahavira’s teachings. There are in all 45 texts. 12 Angas, 12 Upanga Agams, 6 Chedasutras, 4 Mulasutras, 10 Prakirnaka sutras and 2 Culikasutras comprise of Jain literature.
Ahimsa is the fundamental principle of Jainism. Most Jains are vegetarians and this practice shows their faith in the principle of Ahimsa. Apart from that there are 5 Mahavratas:
• Non-violence (Ahimsa).
• Truth (Satya).
• Non-stealing (Asteya).
• Chastity (Brahmacharya).
• Non-possession (Aparigraha).