Buddhism: Origin and Teachings of Buddha

Buddhism is one of the greatest religions of the world that developed from the doctrines of Buddha. His teachings form the basis of the Buddhist tradition. The ultimate aim of the teachings of Buddha is to help an individual in attaining the good life. Also, his teachings form the basis of a philosophical tradition that developed and defended varieties of sophisticated theories in metaphysics and epistemology.

About Gautama Buddha

Gautama Buddha (563 B.C.– 483 B.C.) the founder of Buddhism was born as Prince Siddhartha at Lumbini near Kapilavastu (present Nepal).

He was the son of Suddhodhana and Mahamaya. His father was the chief of the Sakya clan and due to this he was also known as ‘Sakyamuni’.

His mother died after giving birth to him or after seven days. Therefore, he was brought up by his maternal aunt, Prajapati Gautami and so his name is ‘Gautama’.

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He was married to Yashodhara and had a son Rahula. At the age of 29, he left the home to become an ascetic. This event is known as Mahabhishkramana.

When Buddha saw four different states of man, the idea of renunciation occurred to Buddha. The four different states of man were sick man, old man, corpse and ascetic.

He wandered for seven years and at the age of 35, he attained enlightenment at Uruvela while meditating under a Peepal tree or Fig tree on the banks of the river Niranjana. This tree later came to be known as ‘Bodhi tree’ and the place as Bodh Gaya in Bihar.

At Sarnath, Buddha gave his first sermon near Varanasi and this event is known as Dharamchakra Pravartana or Dhammachakkappavattan.

In 483 B.C, he died in Kushinagar in UP. This event is known as Mahaparinirvana. Let us tell you that the term ‘Buddha’ means ‘enlightened one’.

Some of the important contemporaries of Buddha were Mahavira Jaina, Kings Prasenjit, Bimbisara and Ajatasatru.

It is said that in India Buddhism started over 2,600 years ago as a way of life that had the potential of transforming a person.

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What are the Tenets of Buddhism?

Buddha asked his followers to avoid the two extremes of indulgence in worldly pleasure and the practice of strict abstinence and asceticism.

He ascribed the ‘Madhyam Marg’ or the middle path which was to be followed.

According to Buddha, everyone was responsible for their own happiness in life.

In the four noble truths and the eight-fold path, his main teachings are encapsulated.

In Buddhism, the four noble truths or Arya Satya are:

  1. The world is full of sorrow.
  2. Desire is the root cause of all sorrow.
  3. Sorrow can be conquered by conquering desire.
  4. Desire can be conquered by following the eight-fold paths (Ashtangirka Marga).

In Buddhism, the eight-fold path is:

Right view

Right intention

Right speech

Right action

Right livelihood

Right mindfulness

Right effort

Right concentration

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Central to the Buddha’s doctrine is Dukkha and its extinction. The essence of Buddhism is the attainment of enlightenment. Suffering is not limited to the actual pain but also to the potential to experience things.

In Buddhism, there is no supreme God or deity. The ultimate goal of Buddha’s teaching was the attainment of nirvana. He stressed on karma and ahimsa. He did not support the varna system and he taught in Pali language. Buddhism spread to several countries outside India.

Triratna’s of Buddhism are Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha where:

  • Buddha is the highest spiritual potential in everyone.
  • Dhamma, the teaching of Buddha and
  • Sangha was the order of monks who follow Buddhism.

He also established the code of conduct for both the monastic order and the laymen to follow which are called the Five Precepts or Pancasil and refrain from them.

Five Precepts or Pancasil are:

– Violence

– Stealing

– Sexual misconduct

– Lying or gossip

– Taking intoxicating substances like drugs or drink

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