A Brief Overview Of The History Of Buddhism

Buddhism is a faith founded by Sidhartha Gautama more than 2500 years ago. Its practice has been most prominent in east and Southeast Asia. Buddhism doesn’t acknowledge a supreme god or deity, they focus on achieving enlightenment through various deeds. They are here to find inner peace and wisdom. Let us discuss more on Buddhism and its origin focusing on the history of Buddhism.

What is Buddhism?

Buddhism is a path of practising the religion through spiritual development and leading the nature of true reality to its followers. Meditation is a Buddhist practice that can change your inner self and thus, develop qualities like awareness, kindness and compassion. The experience created over Buddhism is thousands of years old and has an incomparable source of scriptures for those who wish to follow the path. It culminated in spiritual enlightenment in oneself. The basic rules of Buddhism teach straightforward and practical things. It isn’t permanent and this addresses itself to people of all race, caste, nationality or gender.

Where Did Buddhism Originate From?

Siddhartha Gautama is the one who is said to have brought the concept of Buddhism to India. Siddhartha was born in the Fifth Century BCE to a tribal chief in Nepal. If you went through any Buddhist literature you’ll know that it was prophesied that he would become the king if he stayed at home. However, to this prophecy, it was also added that if he did not stay home he would become a great sage and would save humanity. Siddhartha’s father did not want him to leave his home. He wanted him to be the next king. And thus, Sidharatha was brought with ultimate luxury and riches. And thus, he became used to it. He was always shielded from pain and ugliness, such that he never became aware of human suffering. But, one-day Sidhartha became restless of the luxury and wondered about the outside world. He tried to limit his experience but Sidhartha got to see the real world anyhow.

Story Of Siddhartha And The Origin Of Buddhism

According to the story, during his travels to the outside world, Siddhartha came across four flights that laid a deep impression on him.

  1. An Old Man: Since Siddhartha had never seen an old man, he was deeply touched when he came across an old man.
  2. An Ill Person: When Sidhartha was trying to find out more about the old man, he stumbled upon an ill person.
  3. A Funeral: While walking around he saw a funeral party by the side of a river. This was the most shocking moment for him.
  4. A Travelling Monk: Lastly, he had an encounter with a travelling monk who had just given up on all the pleasures of life.

Siddhartha learned all the simple truths of life form which had been shielded all his life. He realised how we all grow up, get sick and die. With all this realisation he decided to abandon his previous life and thus devote himself to working a way to end his suffering.

His initial approach included travelling as a monk and denying all the pleasures of life. He wanted to live a life of extreme asceticism. But, this state of living nearly got him killed. After this episode, he once heard the music on a Sitar. Where he observed that if the strings are too tight, the music didn’t feel right. However, if we loosen up some strings, beautiful music could be made. Thus, Sidhartha applied this to his lifestyle and decided to not totally deny the physical body. After meditating for some time he comprehended the concept of enlightenment.

What Is The History Of Buddhism?

After this episode, he came to be known as Buddha or the enlightened one. The short history of Buddhism begins after the enlightenment of Budha. At the age of thirty-five, he enlightened himself from the sleep of delusion and began gripping upon the endless cycle of ignorance and unnecessary suffering. Having enlightened, he went against his usual nature and communicated with himself to liberate himself through the constant suffering and thereby taught Dharma.

For Forty-Five years, he travelled across central India on foot to convey his wakefulness and profound knowledge of ancient buddha by all the means he could explain. He grew into a great body of spiritual, psychological and practical figures. His enlightenment passed down through various lineages of teachers and thus, has been spread through various countries from the very beginning laying the foundation for a concise history of Buddhism

What Happened After The Death Of Buddha?

At the time of the death of Lord Buddha, Dharma was already established in central India. Many followers of Budha already existed in this time period. Most of the people of the Dharma Community were monarchs or arhats. Arhats are one whole attainment of Nirvana at the end of their lifetime. Numerous monasteries were built around cities such as Rajagriha, Shravasti and Vaishali.

Mahakasyapa was the first to assume Budha’s Mantle and observed the duty of establishing a version of Budha’s teaching. Thus, during the first rainy season after Buddha’s death, Mahakashyapa brought in an assembly of five hundred Arhats. At this Assembly, all the sutras by Lord Budha were recited. Also, the names of places were given describing the whole circumstances.

In the early centuries after the death of Budha, Buddhism started spreading throughout the country with the help of the people. The strength of the religion lay in the teacher and the monasteries that sheltered the spiritual and intellectual communities. The monks travelled in between the monasteries to develop a great network.

As the Dharma started spreading, there were certain conflicts that started to arise. Thus, after the first council, a hundred years ago, another council was organised, with around seven hundred Arhats. Many notable donations were accepted here. In spite of this, the council’s great effort was put to maintain unity. Here there was a division created by the sangha into divergent schools.

King Ashoka, Mauryan Empire And History Of Buddhism In India

The third emperor of the Mauryan empire, King Ashoka covered all of the Indian subcontinent except the southern tip. His personal acceptance of Dharma and renouncing the principle of governance was a great leap in the spread of Budha’s teachings. The government in his realm started preaching Buddhism. It supported the monasteries and propagandized the same throughout Southeast Asia. Under King Ashoka’s name institutions of Nonviolence and compassion were established throughout India. There were peaceful relations with all the neighbouring states. Thus, with all the preaching and god karma he was the paragon of Buddhism. His reign was looked upon as the golden age for Buddhism.

What Are The Four Major Truths Of Buddhism?

The four noble truths that are preached through Buddhism are as follows:

  1. Dukha: Suffering
  2. Samudaya: Cause of suffering
  3. Nirhodha: End of suffering
  4. Magga: Path that sets us free from suffering

The ultimate origin and history of Buddhism laid the goal to attain a spiritual life where the suffering of anyone can be ended. Buddhism throughout history has taught methods that enable people to realise the pain and thus, use it to transform their experience and end that suffering. The studies help us live our lives responsibly. Well, don’t you think it is only sensible to focus on leaving the pain out by oneself, rather than just praying for it to end?

Doesn’t Buddhism look like an answer to that question?