Friday, February 25, 2011

Buddha & Buddhism


    What is Buddhism ?
    Religion and philosophy that developed from the teachings of the Buddha Gautama (or Gotama), who lived as early as the 6th century BC. Spreading from India to Central and Southeast Asia, China, Korea, and Japan, Buddhism has played a central role in the spiritual, cultural, and social life of the Eastern world and during the 20th century has spread to the West. This article surveys Buddhism from its origins to its elaboration in various schools, sects, and regional developments.
    Ancient Buddhist scripture and doctrine developed primarily in two closely related literary languages of ancient India, Pali and Sanskrit. In this article, Pali and Sanskrit words that have gained some currency in English are treated as English words and are rendered in the form in which they appear in English-language dictionaries. Exceptions occur in special circumstances—as, for example, in the case of the Sanskrit term dharma (Pali: dhamma), which has meanings that are not usually associated with the English “dharma.” Pali forms are given in the sections that deal with Buddhists whose primary sacred language was Pali (including discussions of the teaching of the Buddha, which are reconstructed on the basis of Pali texts). Sanskrit forms are given in the sections that deal with Buddhists whose primary focus was on Sanskritic traditions.
    The foundations of Buddhism
    The cultural context
    Buddhism came into being in northeastern India during the period from the late 6th century to the early 4th century BC, a period of great social change and intense religious activity. There is disagreement among scholars about the dates of the Buddha's birth and death. Most scholars in Europe, the United States, and India believe that the historical Buddha lived from about 563 to about 483 BC. Many others, especially in Japan, believe that he lived about 100 years later (from about 448 to 368 BC).
    At this time in India, many were no longer content with the external formalities of Brahmanic (Hindu high-caste) sacrifice and ritual. In northwestern India there were ascetics who tried to go beyond the Vedas (Hindu sacred scriptures). In the literature that grew out of this movement, the Upanishads, a new emphasis on renunciation and transcendental knowledge can be found. But northeastern India, which was less influenced by the Aryans who had developed the main tenets and practices of the Vedic Hindu faith, became the breeding ground of many heterodox sects. Society in this area was troubled by the breakdown of tribal unity and the expansion of several petty kingdoms. Religiously, this was a time of doubt, turmoil, and experimentation.
    A proto-Samkhya sect (a Hindu school founded by Kapila) was already well-established in the area. New sects abounded, including various kinds of skeptics (e.g., Sañjaya Belatthiputta), atomists (e.g., Pakudha Kaccayana), materialists (e.g., Ajita Kesakambali), and antinomians (i.e., those against rules or laws; e.g., Purana Kassapa). Among the most important sects to arise at the time of the Buddha were the Ajivikas (Ajivakas), who emphasized the rule of fate (niyati), and the Jainas, an ascetic movement stressing the need to free the soul from matter. Though the Jainas, like the Buddhists, have often been regarded as atheists, their beliefs are actually more complicated. Unlike early Buddhists, both the Ajivikas and Jainas believed in the permanence of the elements that constitute the universe, as well as the existence of the soul.
    Despite the bewildering variety of religious communities, many shared the same vocabulary—nirvana (transcendent freedom), atman (“self,” or “soul”), yoga (“union”), karma (“causality”), Tathagata (“Thus-Gone,” or “He Who Has Thus Attained”), buddha (“enlightened one”), samsara (“eternal recurrence,” “becoming”), and dhamma (“rule,” or “law”)—and most were based on the practice of yoga. According to tradition, the Buddha himself was a yogi—that is, a miracle-working ascetic.
    Buddhism, like many of the sects that developed in northeastern India at the time, was constituted by the presence of a charismatic teacher, by the teachings this leader promulgated, and by a community of adherents that was often made up of renunciant members and lay supporters. In the case of Buddhism this pattern became the basis for the Triratna—the “Three Jewels” of Buddha (the teacher), dharma (the teaching), and sangha (the community)—in which Buddhists have traditionally taken refuge.
Chronological Table of Important Events
There are many problems in preparing a chronological table for a period of 2525 years. The fixing of the actual year of occurrence of an event is the chief among them. For example, although the historicity of the Buddha is now well established, there are several views regarding the year that is ascribed to the Parinibbana (demise) of the Buddha, which is the beginning of the Buddhist era. The year 544 B.C. was taken as the date of Parinibbana and the chronological table was constructed on this basis.
Due to scantiness of information, certain events are placed by historians within broad periods, running into sevral centuries. In such cases the event is included under the first year or century. As far as possible, the dates occurring in standard books were taken in preparing the chronology.

B.E. C.E.    
-80 -462 Birth of Prince Shiddhartha  
-45 -589 The Enlightenment Bimbisara, King of Magadha; Confucius and Lao-Tse in China and Mahavira in India, lived during this century.
1 -544 (-383) Parinibbana of the Buddha and First Council at Rajagha Ajatasattu, King of Magadha  
100 -444 (-383) Second Council at Vesali and first schism Kalasoka King of Magadha
218 -326   Expedition of Alexander the Great to India.
280 to -264 -227 Reign of Emperor Asoka Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage began (264BC)
294 -250 Emperor Asoka becomes a Buddhist after Kalinga war  
297 -247 Third Council at Pataliputta, sending of missionaries to Kasmira Gandhara, Mahisamandala, Vanavasa, Aparantaka, Maharattha all regions in India, Yona country (Greece), Himalaya Region, Suvannabhumi (Lower Burma, Siam and Cambodia) and Lanka (Ceylon)  
298 -246 Greco - Bactrian Kingdom founded by Dicdotus  
304 -240   Kustana, son of Asoka founded the kingdom of Khotan, Central Asia
330 -214   Great Wall of China begun
333 -211 First Buddhist Monastery in Khotan  
359 to -185 -72   Sunga Period in Central India.
443 to -101 -77 Building of the Great Thupa, Suvannamali in Anuradhapura. Beginning of the tradition of Rock cut temples at Karle (1st century BC) Nasik, Kanheri, Junnar, Bhaja (2nd century BC) Ajanta (2nd century BC-7 century CE) and Ellora (5 century - 8 century CE). King Dutugemunu in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. Andras in Ujjeni.
489 -55   Julius Caeser’s first expedition to Britain.
500 -44 King Menander, theBactrian king meets Van Nagasena in Sialkot, and becomes a Buddhist: writing of Milinda Pañha: Beginning of Greco-Buddhist Gandhara School of art and architecture which greatly influenced Central Asia. Bactrian Empire.
514 -30   Establishment of Roman Empire by Augustus.
515 to -29 -17 The Ti-pitaka rendered into writing for first time at Aloka-vihara, Matale, Sri Lanka: The Fourth Buddhist Council according to Theravada tradition held in Sri Lanka Reign of Vattagamini Abhaya in Sri Lanka (29-17 BC)
540 -4   True date of birth of Jesus of Nazareth
542 -2 Yi-chen, an envoy of the King of Yueh-chis arrived in Chang-an and taught Buddhist scriptures  
544     Christian era began.
569 25   Eastern Han dynasty in China. (25-221 CE)
611 67 Official introduction of Buddhism to China  
622 78 Fourth Buddhist Council (not recognized by Theravada) at Jalandhar in Kashmir: Ven. Vasumitra and Asvaghosa: writing of Vaibhasa-Sastra Reign of Kushan King, Kanishka. Beginning of Saka Era. (other dates 128 CE, 144 CE)
694 150 Ven Nagarjuna, the propounder of the Madhymika philoshophy a contemporary of Yajna Sri Gautamiputra  
710 166   Reign of Satavahana King of India, Yajna Sri Gautamiputra (166-196CE)
708 164   Great Plague began and lasted to the death of M. Aurelius (180CE) This devastated all Asia. Century of war and disorder in the Roman Empire began.
719 175- 225 Ven. Mon-tseu of China who wrote a treatise comparing Buddhism with the teachings of Confucius and Lao Tse.  
814 270- 350 Ven. Maitreya (natha) the founder of the Yogacara school  
824 280 Vasubandhu, brother of Asanga. (280-360 CE)  
843 299 Goodwill mission from King Vasudeva of Gandhara to China  
847 303   Persecution of Christian by Emperor Diocletian
864 320   Beginning of reign of Chandra Gupta and of the Gupta era (300-606 CE)
    With permission from King Chandragupta a Sinhalese monastery established at BuddhaGaya by King Sri Meghavanna (304-333 CE)  
888 344 Birth of Kumarajiva.  
894 350 Asanga, most prominent teacher of Yogacara  
916 372 Buddhism introduced to Kogaryu in North Korea by a Chinese monk  
928 384 Buddhism introduced from Central Asia to Pakche in S. W. Korea by a monk called Ven. Marananda  
930 386 Buddhism declared State religion in China Northern Wei dynasty in China 386-353 CE.
943 399 Travels of Fa-Hien (Fa-hsien) in India (399-414 CE) Reign of Chandragupta II of India 375-413 CE
946 402 Buddhism introduced to Silla in SE Korea: Buddhapalita and Bhavaviveke of Madhyamika school (1st half of 5 century CE): Dinnaga, acclaimed to be the founder of Buddhist logic; Buddhadatta  
953 409 Hiu Shen undertakes a mission to Mexico during the reign of King Yung Yuan. Returned 543 CE.  
964 420 Ven. Sanghavarman translated books on Vinaya from Sanskrit to Chinese  
975 431 Ven. Gunavarman’s mission to Vietnam, Java and China. Java became a Buddhist country under his influence.  
979 435 Ven. Gunabhadra, a Sri Lankan arrived in Indrapuri (Hue) from China.  
1002 458 Arrival of Ven. Buddhaghosa, the great pali commentator in Mahavihara, Anuradhapura; Samantapasadika, the Vinaya commentary was begun in the 20th and finished in the 21st year of the king’s reign. Reign of King Mahanama in Sri Lanka 458-480 CE
1032 488 Ven. Sangabodhi from Sri Lanka arrived in Tonking and proceeded to Jetavana Vihara Canton  
1046 502- 549 Ven. Bodhidharma, founder of the Chinese, Ch’an sect.  
1070 526 Ven. Bodhidharma left for China from Vietnam  
1092 548 Arrival of Ven. Paramartha (Po-lo-mo-tho) (513-569 CE) of Ujjain in Nanking  
1096 552 Buddhism introduced to Japan from Kudara (Pakche) one of the kingdoms of Korea.  
1114 570   Muhammad was born
1119 575 Ven. Chandrakirti of the Madhymika school  
1138 594 Prince Shotoku issued an Imperial Ordinance supporting and urging the development of the Three Jewels  
1150 606 Ascendancy of King Harsadeva of Kanauj, a great Buddhist benefactor (606-647 CE)  
1161 617 Ascendancy of King Sron-btsan-sgam-po in Tibet and official introduction of Buddbism into Tibet.  
1162 618   Tang dynasty in China 618-906CE
1173 629 Ven Yuan Chwang or Hieun Tsang (602-660CE) starts on his journey to India; Travelled in India from 633-644 and returned to China in 645 CE.  
1215 671 I’Tsing’s visit to kingdom of Sri Vijaya. On his outward journey to India, Sri Vijaya a Theravada centre; Travelled from 671-695 CE.  
1228 684 Talang Tuwo Ins. in Sri Vijaya Kingdom.  
1239 695 Re-Visit to Sri Vijaya by I’tsing: Sri Vijaya had become a Mahayana outpost.  
1254 710 Beginning of Nara period in Japan. Nara made the capital
1258 714 Persecution of Buddhists in China by Yen T’sing: Pala Rule in Bengal - a Buddhist dynasty: Rise of Nalanda University and the Universities of Vickremasila and Odantipuri.  
1299 755 Ascendancy of King Khri-Sron-Ide-btsan.  
1319 775 Ligor Inscription-patronage of the Sri Vijaya Kingdom to Mahayana Buddhism  
1338 794 Kyoto period in Japan Helan, Kyoto became the capital (794-1194 CE)

Life & Times
Buddha & Buddhism
Founder: Buddha
Location: India
Date: ~500 BCE
Primary Scripture: Tipitaka (Tripitaka)
Main Goal: Achieve Nirvana
Main Figures
  • Buddha
    • Other names
      • Sakyamuni (Sakya clan sage),
      • Siddhartha Gautama (Birth Name)
    • Contribution: Founded Buddhism
    • Occupation: Prince
Mahayana and Vajrayana sect Figures
  • Amitabha Buddha
    • Contribution: Established Pure Land sect (Mahayana)
  • Manjushri
    • Contribution: Bodhisattva of Wisdom
  • Avalokiteshvara
    • Other names/manifestations
      • Pure Land (Mahayana): A manifestation of Amidha Buddha (sits at his right hand)
      • China (Mahayana): Kuan Yin - Goddess of Compassion
      • Tibet (Vajrayana)
        • Chenrezig (Main form)- Male of couple that gave birth to Tibetan people
        • Tara (manifestation)- Female form of Chenrezig
        • King Songtsen Gampo (manifestation)- Brought Buddhism to Tibet
        • Dalai Lama (manifestation)- Chief spiritual and political leader of Tibet.
Contribution: Bodhisattva of Compassion

Buddha & Buddhism

The second great religion that originated in India is Buddhism. Ironically though Buddhism flourished overseas; in the land of its birth it was ti11 recently non-existent. It received a lease of life after independence, when Dr. B.R. Ambedkar decided to embrace Buddhism. A significant section of the scheduled castes followed Dr. Ambedkar and they today constitute an overwhelming portion of the adherents of Buddhism in India today. But they do not form part of the two traditional sects of Buddhism viz., (Mahanayana and Hinayana) and are generally termed as Neo-Buddhists (Nava-Baudha). The history of Buddhism in India starts with that of its founder Gautama Buddha who lived in the 6th century B.C.E.
Buddha was born in the Shakya clan that belonged to the warrior (Kshatriya) caste. His father was Shudhodana and his mother Maya. Before Buddha was born his mother had a dream in which a white elephant descended from heaven and entered her womb. Buddha was said to have been born in a grove named Lumbini near the ancient town of Kapilavastu. At birth the name given to him was Gautama, probably after the more ancient Vedic seer to whom some of the hymns in the Rigveda are ascribed. Buddha was also known as Siddhartha which means 'he whose aim is accomplished' The latter name seems to be a title given to him by his disciples} although varying opinions are held on this issue.
The Prophecy of Buddha
At his birth, a sage is said to have told King Shudhodana that Gautama would grow up to be a powerful king. But to become a king he should be kept away from the sorrows of 1ife. And if perchance he happened to see any of the sorrows of life he would become an universal teacher. Keen as King Shudhodhana was to see Gautama to be a sucessful ruler, he built up special palace for Gautama from where he could set his eyes on none of the world's sufferings. Even when the prince Gautama went out for stroll or ride, all unpleasant objects were removed so as to prevent Gautama's mind from being disturbed.
The Young Gautama is kept away from Real Life
But the prophesy of Gautama becoming an universal teacher was destined to be fulfilled. One day through some lapse, Gautama managed to s1ip out unnoticed from the palace. Riding through the streets of the city he saw for the first time in his life, a lame person, a sick person, a dead body and an ascetic.
These sights made a deep impact on his tender teenaged mind and he set thinking upon the cause of sufferings and sorrow. Consequently, Gautama began neglecting the affairs of the State which his father had assigned to him. Alarmed at his son's strange behaviour, King Shudhodana, to get his son off this brroding decided to marry him to a princess Yashodhara. Some days after marriage a son was born to them who was named Rahula.
But married life could not distract Gautama from his life's mission for long. When his patience was at the end of its tether, Gautawna decided to forsake family life and one day he slipped out of his palace alongwith his servant Chandaka. After moving out of the city, Gautema cut off his hair removed his royal ornaments and jewels, his rich garments and sandals and gave them to Chandaka and bid him to return to the palace with the news of his (Gautama's) departure.
Gautama becomes The Buddha - The Enlightened One
Thus Gautama set out on his quest for the cause of sufferings (Klesha). He undertook severe austerities by fasting continuously. In this he was accompanied by five disciples. But his frail and pampered body could not stand up to this self-inflicted punishment and one day he fainted. Realizing that this was not the way to arrive at the truth, he gave up the austerities. Horrified at their Master's apostasy the five disciples left him. But undaunted, Gautama continued his quest for the cause of sufferings. He seated himself under a fig tree (Mahabodhi tree) and decided not get up unless he found answers to his questions. His enlightenment is said to have come suddenly and was exceedingly simple - viz., that all pain is caused - by desire, and therefore peace comes when one ceases to crave for anything. This thought was new at that age and it struck him with blinding force, and not only influenced his future life but left a lasting imprint on Buddhist philosophy. Freedom from all desires was said to release a person from the cycle of re-birth and lead to his salvation (Nirvana).
After this revealation Gautama started preaching to people and for this he travelled from place to place. He is said to have delivered his first sermon at a deer park (Isipatana) setting in motion, the wheel of law (Dharma-chakra or Dhammachakra in Pali).
As his teachings impressed people his followlng grew. Among his early converts were Sariputta, Mogallana and Ananda. He even received the patronage of rich traders like Anathapindika (i.e. feeder of poor) and powerful kinqs of the age like Ajatashatru of Magadha. After the revelation (Bodhi), Gautama came to be known as Buddha or Gautama Buddha . He was also known as Shakyamuni (Sage of the Shakyas). The tree under which he attained enlightenment is known as the Bodhi or Mahabodhi tree But though he received an impressive following Buddha never claimed Divine status. Very few miracles are attributed to him.
"Miracles" by the Buddha
On one occasion a grieving lady carried her dead child to Buddha and asked him to revive it. This was a perfect setting for a miracle to be woven into religious folklore, but Buddhist records state that Buddha calmed the lady and told her that he would require three mustard seeds to revive her child. But the mustard seeds should be from a family where so far no one has ever died. To fulfill this seemingly simple request the lady went from house to house only to be told that sometime or the other, someone had died in every family. Gradually, the truth dawned upon the grieving lady and going to a cemetery, she laid down her child's body and taking its little hand in hers, she said "Beloved son, I thought that death has overtaken you alone. but no it overtakes all of us". She went back to Buddha and became his disciple.

The Major Sects of Buddhism
  • Theravada (Hinayana) Buddhism
    • Literal: School of the Elders (Small Vehicle)
    • Main Focus
      • Four Noble Truths
      • Meditation
      • Sage Buddha
    • Main adherents: Southeast Asia
  • Mahayana Buddhism
    • Literal: Large Vehicle
    • Main Focus
      • Four Noble Truths
      • Meditation
      • Divine Buddha
      • Bodhisattvas
    • Main adherents: China, Japan, and Korea
    • Subdivisions
      • Pure Land School
      • Tian Dai (China) or Tendai (Japan) Buddhism
        • Confucianism Influence
      • Chan (China) or Zen (Japan) Buddhism
        • Daoism Influence
        • Main Focus
          • Meditation
          • Chanting
          • Teacher-Student dialog
  • Vajrayana Buddhism
    • Literal: Diamond Vehicle
    • Main Focus
      • Meditation
      • Chanting
      • Enlightenment in one lifetime
      • Tibetan gods and demons
      • Religious visualizations
      • Philosophical debate
      • Ritual
      • Yoga
      • Tantric Sex
    • Main adherents: Tibet

Four Noble Truths
  1. Life is suffering - dukkha
    • Birth trauma
    • Illness
    • Old age
    • Fear of approaching death
    • Separation from what one loves
    • Stuck with what one hates
  2. The cause of suffering is desire - tanha
  3. The cure for suffering is to remove desire
  4. To remove desire, follow the Eightfold path 
Eightfold Path
  1. Right Knowledge
    • Understand the Four Noble Truths
  2. Right Thinking
    • Decide to set a life on the correct path
  3. Right Speech
    • Don't lie
    • Don't criticize others unjustly
    • Don't use harsh language
    • Don't gossip
  4. Right Conduct
    • Follow the Five Precepts
  5. Right Livelihood
    • Earn a living that does not harm living things
  6. Right Effort
    • Conquer all evil thoughts
    • Strive to maintain good thoughts
  7. Right Mindfulness
    • Become intensely aware of all the states in body, feeling, and mind.
  8. Right Concentration
    • Deep meditation to lead to a higher state of consciousness (enlightenment)

Five Precepts
  1. Do not kill
  2. Do not steal
  3. Do not lie
  4. Do not be unchaste
  5. Do not take drugs or drink intoxicants

Introduction of Buddhist Philosophy.
" Buddhist is a form of philosophy nevertheless most people consider it as a form of religion. As far as I concerned, I would say, "It is neither philosophy nor religion." Buddhism is Buddhism itself, it could not be defined as anything else. Buddhism is neither Theism nor Atheism. It refers to neither God nor Gods. On the other hand, it did not say God doesn't exist either. Anyway it is not mainly focusing on that phenomenon instead it focuses on, "Braking thru illusion then we see reality." It teaches us how to have good living (being) and underst and the world as reality. What is the reality then? According to Buddhism stand point, what that we see around us is not real, it is only perception therefore reality is beyond perception. Perception deludes us to illusion. Illusion is normal state of the mind that perceives the world around us. To brake through misapprehension, we need to understand basic concept of nature which part of it was found by Buddha, the great philosopher. To say, Buddhism is one of the way to enlightenment. "


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