Buddhism and Gautama Buddha

Buddhism and Gautama Buddha

Gautama Buddha Founder of Buddhism.

  • Born in 563 BC in a Shakya (kshtriya) family in Lumbini near Kapilvastu (Nepal).
  • Parents Shudhodana (head of the Shakyas) & Mahamaya.
  • Original name → Siddhartha Gautama (named after stepmother Gautami).
  • Spouse Yoshodhara.
  • Son Rahula.
  • Left his palace at 29 (with Channa, the charioteer and his favourite horse, Kanthaka) in search of ‘Mahabhinishkramana’ (truth) & wandered for 6 years.
  • 1st meditated with Alara Kama. But he was not convinced that man could obtain liberation from sorrow by mental discipline and knowledge.
  • Next teacher was Udraka Ramputra.
  • Attained ‘Nirvana’ or ‘Enlightenment’ at 35 at Gaya in Magadha (Bihar) under the Pipal tree.
  • Delivered the first sermon at Sarnath where his five disciples had settled. His first sermon is called ‘Dharmachakrapravartan’ or ‘Turning of the Wheel of Law’.
  • Attained Mahaparinirvana at Kushinagar in 483 BC at the age of 80 in the Malla republic.
Three Ratnas of Buddhism:
  1. Buddha: Its Founder.
  2. Dhamma: His Teachings.
  3. Sangha: Order of Buddhist monks and nuns.

Dhamma Teachings of Buddha.

1.The Four Great Truths:

  1. The world is full of sorrow and misery.
  2. The cause of all pain and misery is desire.
  3. Pain and misery can be ended by killing or controlling desire.
  4. Desire can be controlled by following the Eight Fold Path.

2.Astanga margha (Eight-fold Path):

  1. Right observation,
  2. Right determination,
  3. Right speech,
  4. Right action,
  5. Right livelihood,
  6. Right exercise,
  7. Right memory and viii. Right meditation.

3.Belief in Nirvana:

  • When desire ceases, rebirth ceases and nirvana is attained i.e. freedom from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth is gained by following the 8-fold path.
  • Buddhism does not recognise the existence of God and soul(atma).

4. Belief in Ahimsa: One should not cause injury to any living being, animal or man.

5. Law of Karma: Man reaps the fruits of his past deeds.

Sangha History:
  • Consists of monks and nuns.
  • Bhikshus acted as a torch bearer of the dhamma.
  • Apart from Sangha, the worshippers were called Upasakas.
Spread of Buddhism:
  • Pali, the language of the people, contributed to the spread of Buddhism.
  • Gautama Buddha also organised the sangha for the religious order, whose doors work Open to everybody, irrespective of caste and sex.
  • Ashoka and Kaniska embraced buddhism.
  • Promoted education through residential universities like Valabhi, Nalanda & Vikramshila.

Buddhist Councils: The monks gathered four times after the death of Buddha and the effect of these events had their effect on Buddhism.

First Buddhist council:

Venue: Rajgriha in 483 BC
Chairmanship: Mahakassaapa
King: Ajatshatru
Outcome: Compostion of Suttapitaka (Buddha’s Teachings) by Ananda & Vinaypitaka ( Monastic code for Buddhism) by Upali.
Second Buddhist council:
Venue: Vaishali in 383 BC
Chairmanship: Sabakami
King: Kalasoka
Outcome: Followers divided into Sthavirmadins and Mahasanghikas.
Third Buddhist council:
Venue: Pataliputra in 250 BC
Chairmanship: Mogaliputta Tissa (Upagupta)
King: Ashoka the Great
Outcome: Tripitaka was coded in the Pali language.
Fourth Buddhist council:
Venue: Kundalvan (Kashmir) in 72 AD
Chairmanship: Vasumitra
King: Kaniska
Outcome: Divided Buddhism into Mahayana and Hinayana sects.
Buddist Literature:


  • Language Pali.
  • Sacred books of Buddhism.
  • They are 3 in number. They are Vinaya Pitaka, Sutta pitaka and Abhidhamma Pitaka.


  • Mahavansh and Deepvansh are the other Buddhist texts. They provide information about the then SriLanka.
  • Jataks are the fables about the different births of Buddha.
  • They are many important Buddhist authors like Asvaghosha, Nagarjuna, Buddhaghosa, Dinnaga Asanga and Vasubandhu etc….

Division in Buddhism : Like Jainism, Buddhism also faced division. It was divided into first two sects and later three.

1.Hinayana Buddhism:

    • Followers believed in the original teaching of Buddha.
    • Don’t believe in the Idol worship.
    • Believe only in Karma.
    • Pali was their language.
    • Ashoka Patronised Hinayanaism.

2.Mahayana Buddhism:

  • Followers believed in the heavenliness of Buddha.
  • Believes in the Idol worship.
  • Sanskrit was their language.
  • Kanishka patronised Mahayanism.

3.Vajrayana Buddhism:

  • Followers believed that salvation be best attained by acquiring the magical power, which they called Vajra.
  • Became popular in eastern India, particularly Bengal and Bihar.

Causes for the decline of Buddhism:

  • It accepted to the Brahmanic rituals and ceremonies, such as idol worship, etc, which Buddhism had earlier denounced.
  • Revival of reformed Hinduism with the preaching of Shankaracharya from 9th century onwards.
  • Use of Sanskrit, the language of intellectuals, in place of Pali, the language of the common people.
  • Decline in the moral standards among the monks living in Buddhist monasteries.
  • Entry of women into Buddhist monasteries.
  • Practise of Idol worship on a large scale and received numerous offerings from devotees.
  • Attacks of Huna king Mihirkula in the sixth century and the Turkish invaders in the 12th century AD.
  • Pushyamitra Sunga (a Brahamana ruler) oppressed Buddhists.
  • The Original Bodhi tree at Gaya was cut down by Shasanka (Saviate), a Bengal ruler.

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