Origin of Buddhism
In India, one will never feel the dearth of associating oneself with any kind of religion or culture. One has to only pick and choose as to what one wants to believe in and the options will be right in front of you. However, the one name that claims to set itself apart from others is Buddhism-It says that it is a practice; it is a way of living which one wishes to incorporate within one and feel happy about.
Who invented this religion?
The one person who ideated and brought life to this religion was Gautama Siddhartha Buddha. The word Buddha implies “awakened one” or moreover “the enlightened one. Gautama becomes the primary figure in Buddhism, and it is only the account of his life, discourses, and other monastic rules which are believed by Buddhists to have been collected and written after his death and also learnt and applied by his followers. It is his collections of prude teachings which were passed down by the means of oral tradition, and also was first committed to writing something about 400 years later.
Origin of Buddhism
Buddhism, which was founded in the late 6th century B.C.E., by Siddhartha Gautama (the “Buddha”) is termed to be an important religion in most of the countries of Asia. This religion is not only one of the largest practiced religions in India but also in China, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan. Buddhism has assumed parallel and different forms, but in each of the cases there has been an attempt to draw from the eccentric life experiences of the Buddha. His teachings and the “spirit” of his teachings which are called dharma or dharma are considered as models for the religious life. However, this happened not until the writing of the Buddha Charita (life of the Buddha) was published by Ashvaghosa in the 1st or 2nd century C.E.
Gautama Buddha was born in a place called Lumbini which is near the Himalayan foothills. He began teaching around Benares (at Sarnath). His intellectual teachings consisted ideas of spiritual, intellectual, and social ferment. This was the same old age when the Hindu ideals of renunciation of not only family but also social life by holy persons seeking the Truth first became widespread, and this is also when the Upanishads were written. These both can be seen as significant moves away from the centrality of the Vedic fire sacrifice.
Estimate of the Buddhist population do vary significantly and it depends on the way Buddhist adherence is defined. The most widely accepted estimates of people following Buddhism range from 350 million to 550 million practicing Buddhist. This however ends up making Buddhism the fourth-largest religion after other religions like Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. According to studies, the Buddhist population exceeds 1 billion. Moreover, Buddhism adapts its ideology from all the other religions and also incorporates some of its own ideals from itself like for example peace of mind and body. It is a thorough practice which can change one’s belief and entire approach.
Propagation of Buddhism
Considered to be a nontheistic religion, Buddhism has been a form of religion that encompassed a whole variety of religions, traditions and practices. The religion is majorly based upon the teachings of Gautama Buddha. Also referred to as the “awakened one”, Buddha was believed to have lived and taught the people mainly in the Eastern part of the Indian subcontinent. This was between the 6th and the 4th centuries BCE.
Buddha’s teachings have always been directed towards helping the weaker human beings and to help them get away from their incessant sufferings and most importantly to remove ignorance and craving from the minds of the people. Basically the ultimate goal in a person’s life is to reach a state of Nirvana or complete surrender to the God. Truth and right action have always been the foundation of all of Buddha’s teachings. All the scriptures and His teachings discuss only the three things in life very importantly. They are the continuous process of birth and death of a person, the sufferings in a birth of a person that makes him to have a rebirth and in the end, the succession of lifetimes a person can have.
Buddhism as a religion gained a strong foothold in India from the beginning of the 6th century. Considered to be the oldest of religions, this slowly gained acceptance and popularity in several countries in the Asian continent. Places where Buddhism still has a lot of importance are Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, Tibet and few other parts of the central Asia to name a few. Till date, the religion has several followers in various parts of the world, apart from these places.
Propagation of the religion began, after the Buddhist scholars went about on pilgrimages across the country. They started teaching the people the various scriptures and the teachings of Gautama Buddha wherever they went. Soon a lot of people were interested to learn more about the religion and took steps to follow it. People felt that the teachings in Buddhism, can lead them to a better life and which also thought them how they can lead a life by honesty, morality and compassion to the other living beings.
Furthermore, the growth of the religion was kindled even more by several British and Indian scholars. Long time ago, when the Buddhist preachers had settled in India, they helped to build several monasteries that could provide people a far better understanding about the religion. This place was considered to be a place of worship and people from around the world started to visit them. By this way, the religion gained its popularity and Buddhism was wide known religion.
Though in between, the religion seemed to face a hit back, where people were no longer able to take up responsibilities to run the monasteries and also to keep track of the scriptures and the teachings. In that point of time, few British scholars, interested in the religion, helped the Buddhist teachers and the monks to establish and maintain the monasteries.
Current scenario of Buddhism in India
Buddhism, a religion purely based on the teachings of Buddha, encompasses a variety of traditions. Started between the 4th and the 6th BC, the religion has been the basis of belief for several people in the world. The religion has been held at high value, since it is regarded to have the central part of the education, which determines the moral conduct of any human being.
Places where Buddhism flourished:
Buddhism has had its popularity mainly in the Asian countries. Till date, this religion has been the belief of several people living in that part of the world. The religion has had strong foothold in places like Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Tibet, China, Japan, Korea, Singapore and few other parts of Southeast Asia and East Asia to name a few.
The popularity for the religion gained once the tourists from around the world started visiting these people just to learn about the heritage, culture and traditions, the religion follows. Due to this, Buddhism is considered to be the fastest growing religion in the world.
Yoga and meditation have been the major sources of liberation as described in the Buddhist scriptures. It is considered that, one who prays to the God with pure devotion, he can attain the path to nirvana without any trouble and all his previous life sins would be cleaned. Apart from this, the scriptures and the teachings in Buddhism mainly encompasses, freedom of thought, attainment of nirvana through self discovery, faith on others and oneself, impartiality to all the living things and the morality which determines the character of any person.
Current scenario in India
When we come to talk about the outreach of the religion in India, which has a different mix of religions to its name, we must try to understand the position of Buddhism in our country. It can be well noted that, Buddhism, by the 17th century, slowly faded in the regions of sub-Himalayas, though there are still very few monasteries in our country at few places left behind by the Buddhist scholars.
It can also be noted that, by the near end of the 19th century, along with the help of few British scholars, the Sri Lankans were able to establish and restore the monasteries in the country. This further helped India to slowly become a pilgrimage for the Buddhist people and also for the others who were interested in learning more about the age old religion.
Later, Ambedkar started the neo-Buddhist movement, where he introduced the religion to the so called untouchables in the society during that period of time. He died soon after and his policies were developed by his followers with the help of some British scholars. Buddhism has been the absolute exposure to the truth in life. The religion also teaches about the ways in which an individual can live in harmony and peace with the living things in his surroundings. The religion by far cannot be told that, it does not have much popularity among the people in India unlike other religions, but still the religion and its teachings are considered to be important for a better living.
Current Scenario of Buddhism across the world
We are living in the modern era of science technology. The rapid growth of scientific knowledge and technology has provided new dimensions to one’s life influencing each and every field of our life. Science has done a great deed to mankind by providing facilities of pleasant living and saved him from many afflictions and uncertainties of the primitive past. It has also eradicated many superstitions and religious dilemmas from society but at same time it has also uprooted the moral, ethics, religious and cultural values of our society. But in same time with growth of scientific knowledge and out-look it has thrown away our traditional religious values, ethics and beliefs. We know much about the atom-molecules but not about the moral values needed for a meaningful, happy and peaceful life. We are living in the state of mayhem; our life is full of emotional disorders and value-conflicts. Thus today our age is also the age of anxiety, worries and mental tensions.
Today, what is important for a human life is mental peace and complete integration with its own personality as well as social environment. But here question arise that Can religion in general and Buddhism in particular meet the need of current scenario? Yes, it can for sure. Buddhist Religion does not mean some superstitions and rituals; it has some eternal virtues, beliefs and values which can meet with the needs of present. First of all we should try to understand its introduction, real meaning and essence.
Introduction of Buddhism in the world
Buddhism involves teachings of Lord Buddha. The Buddhist believes in the achievement of human perfection which should be real purpose of life. It is in this sense that life has right meaning, which should inform the most essential aspects of human activity. A person who follows Buddhist teachings and has made progress along the Buddhist path would reach high degree of happiness, joy, freedom and contentment from fear. In current scenario, material affluence is the goal of many persons but these does not necessarily bring about the eternal happiness which the Buddha sought to promote.
The Buddha was a great, influential and effective Teacher who always reminded his followers that one must have only one aim in life that was to teach people how to understand the nature of suffering, miseries or dissatisfaction and how to eradicate it from life. He promises that who will follow his noble methods with determination and proper understanding will always lead happy and peaceful life.
Today it is very unfortunate that in many existing religions the disciples are not encouraged to respect the leaders of another religion. They are warned that if they will do so they would be committing sin. But the Buddha clearly tells us that we must respect those who are worth of respect. Although we may not agree with certain religious points of view they hold but if they are sincere in their efforts to serve humanity and its upliftment, we must respect them for it.
Lord Buddha always advised his followers to show the world what is right and what is wrong and to be good and to do the good. In today’s world, when we see so much conflict and violence, there cannot be any better solution than bringing Buddhist thoughts to the forefront in the world. Buddhist saints tried all the times to maintain the harmony in different religious faiths and to avoid religious conflicts. That is why Buddhism can survive through the ages. The Buddha’s message of goodwill, prosperity and understanding to all beings is a universal message. In present, the world needs this noble message more than ever before in history of humankind. Buddhism as a religion is the unique and great exposition of the absolute truth and faith which will show one how to live in peace and harmony with his fellow.