Childhood name of Buddha was Siddhartha also known as Sakyamuni or Thathagata, was born 563 BC in Shakya Kshatriya Family in Lumbini in Nepal, Near Kapilvastu. His Father Suddhodhana was elected rular of Kapilvastu and headed the republical clan of the Shakyas. And his mother Mahamaya was princess of Kosalan dynasty. He was taken care of by Mahaprajapati Gautami. He married to Yasodhara at age of 16 and had a son named Rahul.


He left home when he was 29 years old to become a wandering ascetic. He kept wandering for about 7 years. The event of leaving home known as Mahabiniskarmana. He joined five ascetics Kondana, Vappa, Bhaidiya, Mahanama and Assagi and became their leader.

At the age of 35 he achieved enlightenment at Uruvela (Bodh-Gaya) on the bank of Niranjana River (528 BC) under a Peepal tree. His first Sermon is at Sarnath in Banaras, called Dharmachakra-pravartana.

He undertook long journeys and took his message foar and wide. He kept on wandering preaching and meditating continously for 40 years, resting only in the rainy season every year.

His missionary activities did not discriminate between the rich and poor, the high and low, the men and the women. Buddha attained mahaparinirvana at Kushinagara the viilage called Kasia Uttar Pradesh in 483 BC at age of 80.

Doctorines of Buddhism

The Buddha was the practical reformer, his primary aim to secure delivernance from the grim reality of sorrows and sufferings. So, he pronounced for the Four Noble Truth
These are

  1. Sorrow(dukkha) world is full of sorrow
  2. Cause of sorrow is desire.
  3. Cessation of sorrow(dukkha nirodha) is possible.
  4. The path leading to the cessation of sorrow (dukkha nirodha)

The middle Path avoided the two extremes the attachment to worldly pleasure and the practice of self-mortification.
The guiding principle for this path were embodied in a series of precepts, which came to be referred to as the Noble Eightfold Path or the Ashtangika marga knowledgem enlightment and release.

The Noble Eightfold Path (Ashtangika marga) include.

  1. Right views(samma-sankappa)
  2. Right understanding(samma-zditthi)
  3. Right speech(samma-vaka)
  4. Right conduct(samma-kammanta)
  5. Right livehood (samma-ajiva)
  6. Right effort (samma-vayamma)
  7. Right mindfulness(samma-sati)
  8. Right meditation (samma-samadhi)

The Councils of Buddhism

First Buddhist Council (483 BC)

  • Held soon after death of the Buddha
  • Under the chairmanship of monk Mahakasyapa
  • Held by Magadh king Ajatasatru of Haryanka Dynasty in Rajagriha
  • Objective was to preserve the Buddha’s saying (suttas) and monastic rules (Vinaya)

Second Buddhist Council (383 BC)

  • Held about 100 years after the Buddha’s demise
  • Held at Vaisali under the President Sabakami, convened by King Kalasoka of Shisunaga Dynasty
  • Objective was to settle a debate on certain practices of Buddhist monks, exp. In western India

Third Buddhist Council (250 BCE)

  • Held at Patliputra under the patronage of Ashoka(Maurya Dynasty)
  • Chief Monk was Mogaliputta Tissa
  • Sent Buddhist missionaries to other countries
  • Objective was to purify the Buddhist movement from opportunistic factions
  • Origin of Theravada School

Fourth Buddhist Councils (72 AD)

  • Held at Kundalvan, Kashmir under the chairmanship of Vasumitra and vice chairman Ashvaghosha in the 1st century BCE
  • Committed the Pali Canon to writing
  • Another possibly held under Saravastivada tradition, convened by Kanishka of around 100 CE in Kashmir under the leadership of monk Vasumitra
  • Kanishka’s council translated Abhidhama text from Prakrit to Sanskrit

Three Jewels

  1. The Buddha : The enlightmented
  2. The Dhamma : The doctrine
  3. The Sangha : The order

Dissensions in Buddhism

Like Jainism, Buddhism also faced dissensions. Buddhism was divided into three main sects.

1. Hinayana or the Lesser Wheel

  • Its follower believed to be original teaching of the Buddha .
  • Hinayana was a religion without God with Karma taking the place of God.

2. Mahayana or the Greater Wheel

  • Its followers believed on the heavenliness of the Buddha and sought the salivation of all
  • It believed in idol worship.
  • Mahayana has two chief philosophical schools namely the madayakima and Yogahara

3. Vajrayana or the'Vehicle of Thunderbolt'

  • Its followers believed that salvation could be best attained by acquiring the magical power, which they called Vajra
  • It become popular in Eastern India, particularly in Bengal and Bihar

The Buddhist Literature

Tripitakas of Buddhism

The Pali canons were first codified at the first Council held at Rajgriha. Anand recited the Sutta Pitaka while Upali recited the Vinaya Pitaka. Abhidhmma Pitaka was added in the 3rd Buddhist Council

  • Refers to three main books
    – Vinaya Pitaka: contains disciplinary rules for Buddhist monks
    – Sutta Pitaka: contains disclosure ascribed to the Buddha
    – Abhidhamma Pitaka: systematic explanations of the Buddha’s teachings
  • The Pali Tipitaka is the only one to survive in its original language
  • Originated from the First Buddhist Council (c. 400 BCE) under the leadership of monk Mahakasyapa
  • Used primarily by the Theravada tradition

Mahayana Sutras

  • Composed from the 1st century CE onwards
  • Claim to articulated the Buddha’s more advanced doctrine of followers of the bodhisattva path
  • Used by the Mahayana tradition.

Important Buddhist Sites

Lumbini (Nepal)

  • Site of the Buddha’s birth
  • In the present-day region of Tarai (Southern Nepal)
  • Houses the Mayadevi Temple and Pusakarini or Holy Pond (where the Buddha had his first bath)
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1997)

Bodh Gaya (Bihar)

  • Site of Buddha’s enlightenment
  • Home of the Mahabodhi Temple constructed in 6th Century CE by the Guptas
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (2002)

Sarnath (Uttar Pradesh)

  • Site of Buddha’s first Sermon
  • Place were the first Sangha came into existence
  • Home of Ashoka’s famous Sarnath Pillar
  • Contains the Dhamek Stupa Chaukhandi Stupa, Dharmarajika Stupa, Mulagandhakuti Vihara
  • Presently on the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list.

Kushinagar (Uttar Pradesh)

  • Site of Buddha’s death
  • Contains the Mahaparinirvana Stups
  • Houses the Mkutabandhana, cremation site of the Buddha
  • Maitreya Project to build a 500 ft statue of Buddha

Sanchi (Madhya Pradesh)

  • Houses several Buddhist Monuments from 3rd century BCE to 12th century CE
  • The Great Stupa at Sanchi was commissioned by Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1989)