Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 17

1

LIFE AND TEACHINGS OF GAUTAM BUDDHA –RAJ KRISHNA


INTRODUCTION

Aims and Objectives: The aim of the researcher is to present a detailed study of the teachings
of Gautama Buddha. It includes the life of Buddha, teachings of Buddhism, spread and division
of Buddhism and further the decline of Buddhism.

Research Questions: The three research questions are as follows

1. What are the teachings of Buddhism?


2. What are the different schools of Buddhism?
3. What was the reason of decline of Buddhism?

Scope and Limitations: Owing to the large number of topics that could be included in the
project, the scope of this research paper is exceedingly vast. However in the interest of brevity,
this paper has been limited to the topics which deal with the important teachings of Buddhism. It
is because with time Buddhism got divided into various sects. As a result the teachings and
practices of this religion also increased.

Research Methodology:

The researcher has used Doctrinal Method of research to complete the project.

Sources of Data:

The researcher has relied on the secondary sources of data which are various books written on
Gautama Buddha and Buddhism.

Mode of Citation:

The researcher has followed a uniform mode of citation in this project.

BUDDHISM: AN INTRODUCTION

In the 6th century BC we noticed a growing opposition to the ritualistic orthodox ideas of the
Brahmans. This led to the emergence of many heterodox religious movements. It is considered
that during this time, almost 62 heterodox sects prevailed in India.
2

Among these 62 heterodox sects, Buddhism became the most accepted religion. Buddhism1 is a
nontheistic religion or philosophy that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual
practices largely based on teachings attributed to Gautama Buddha, commonly known as the
Buddha ("the awakened one"). According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha lived and taught in
the northeastern part of the Indian subcontinent sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BC.
He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to
help sentient beings end their suffering through the elimination of ignorance and craving.The
main principles of Buddhism are covered by the teachings in the form of ‘The Three Jewels’,
‘The Four Noble Truths’, ‘The Noble Eightfold Path’, ‘The Five Precepts’, ‘The Three Marks of
Conditioned Existence’ etc…which shall be discussed later.

Two major extant branches of Buddhism are generally recognized by scholars: Hinayana ("The
School of the Elders") and Mahayana ("The Great Vehicle"). Hinayana has a widespread
following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia (Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, etc.). Mahayana
is found throughout East Asia(China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, etc.) and
includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Shingon, and Tiantai (Tendai).
Vajrayana, a body of teachings attributed to Indian siddhas, may be viewed as a third branch or
merely a part of Mahayana. Tibetan Buddhism2, as practiced in Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, the
Himalayan region of India, Mongolia and surrounding areas, preserves the Vajrayana teachings
of eighth century India.

Buddhist schools vary on the exact nature of the path to liberation, the importance and canonicity
of various teachings and scriptures, and especially their respective practices. One consistent
belief held by all Buddhist schools is the lack of a creator deity. The foundations of Buddhist
tradition and practice are the Three Jewels3: the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings), and the
Sangha (the community). Taking "refuge in the triple gem" has traditionally been a declaration
and commitment to being on the Buddhist path, and in general distinguishes a Buddhist from a
non-Buddhist. Other practices may include following ethical precepts; support of the monastic
community; renouncing conventional living and becoming a monastic; the development of
mindfulness and practice of meditation; cultivation of higher wisdom and discernment; study of
scriptures; devotional practices; ceremonies; and in the Mahayana tradition, invocation of
Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Buddhists number between an estimated 488 million and 535 million,
making it one of the world's major religions.

1
Buswell, Robert E.(ed.)(2004), Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Macmillan Reference Books.
2
John Powers (2007). Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism (Rev.ed), New York Snow Lion Publications.
3
www.buddhaweb.org
3

THE LIFE OF GAUTAMA BUDDHA

The sources which tell us about Gautama Buddha and Buddhism are the ‘Tripitakas’ (Vinaya,
Sutta, Abhidhamma), ‘Jatakas’ etc…

The evidence of the early texts suggests that Buddha was born in 563BC as Siddhartha4. His
family name was Gautama. The place of his birth was Kapilavastu. It was either a small republic,
in which case his father was an elected chieftain, or an oligarchy.

According to this narrative, shortly after the birth of young prince Gautama, an astrologer named
Asita visited the young prince's father, Suddhodana, and prophesied that Siddhartha would either
become a great king or renounce the material world to become a holy man, depending on
whether he saw what life was like outside the palace walls.

Suddhodana was determined to see his son become a king, so he prevented him from leaving the
palace grounds. He was also married to Yashodhara with whom he had a son named Rahul. But
at the age of 29, despite his father's efforts, Gautama ventured beyond the palace several times.
In a series of encounters—known in Buddhist literature as the four sights—he learned of the
suffering of ordinary people, encountering an old man, a sick man, a corpse and, finally, an
ascetic holy man, apparently content and at peace with the world. These experiences prompted
Gautama to abandon royal life and take up a spiritual quest.

Gautama first went to study with famous religious teachers5 (Alara Kalma, Udraka Ramputra) of
the day, and mastered the meditative attainments they taught. But he found that they did not
provide a permanent end to suffering, so he continued his quest. He next attempted an extreme
asceticism, which was a religious pursuit common among the sramaṇas, a religious culture
distinct from the Vedic one. Gautama underwent prolonged fasting, breath-holding, and exposure
to pain. He almost starved himself to death in the process. He realized that he had taken this kind
of practice to its limit, and had not put an end to suffering. So in a pivotal moment he accepted
milk and rice from a village girl and changed his approach. He devoted himself to anapanasati
meditation, through which he discovered what Buddhists call the Middle Way: a path of
moderation between the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification.

Gautama was now determined to complete his spiritual quest. At the age of 35, he famously sat
in meditation under a peepal tree now called the Bodhi Tree in the town of Bodh Gaya and
vowed not to rise before achieving enlightenment. After many days, he finally destroyed the
fetters of his mind, thereby liberating himself from the cycle of suffering and rebirth, and arose
as a fully enlightened being. Soon thereafter, he attracted a band of followers and instituted a
monastic order. Now, as the Buddha, he spent the rest of his life teaching the path of awakening

4
www.souledout.org
5
www.biography.com/people/buddha
4

he had discovered, traveling throughout the northeastern part of the Indian subcontinent, and
died at the age of 80 (483 BC) in Kushinagar, India6.

6
www.buddhist-tourism.com
5

TEACHINGS OF BUDDHISM

His first sermon was given at Sarnath which is at Varanasi. This is called as
Dharmachakrapravartan. He raised his voice against the priesthood, superstition, sacrifices and
he denied the divinity of God. He further did not accept the authority of the Vedas. His ultimate
aim is Nirvana.

The Four Noble Truths

The teachings on the Four Noble Truths are regarded as centre to the teachings of Buddhism, and
are said to provide a conceptual framework for Buddhist thought. These four truths explain the
nature of dukkha (suffering, anxiety, unsatisfactoriness), its causes, and how it can be overcome.
The four truths are7:

1. The truth of dukkha (suffering, anxiety, unsatisfactoriness)

2. The truth of the origin of dukkha

3. The truth of the cessation of dukkha

4. The truth of the path leading to the cessation of dukkha

The first truth explains the nature of dukkha. Dukkha is commonly translated as "suffering",
"anxiety", "unsatisfactoriness", "unease", etc., and it is said to have the following three aspects:

1. The obvious suffering of physical and mental illness, growing old, and dying.
2. The anxiety or stress of trying to hold onto things that are constantly changing.
3. A subtle dissatisfaction pervading all forms of life due to the fact that all forms of life are
changing, impermanent and without any inner core or substance. On this level, the term
indicates a lack of satisfaction, a sense that things never measure up to our expectations
or standards.

The second truth is that the origin of dukkha can be known. Within the context of the four noble
truths, the origin of dukkha is commonly explained as craving (Pali: tanha) conditioned by
ignorance. On a deeper level, the root cause of dukkha is identified as ignorance of the true
nature of things. The third noble truth is that the complete cessation of dukkha is possible, and
the fourth noble truth identifies a path to this cessation.

7
www.thebuddhistsociety.org
6

Noble Eightfold Path

The Noble Eightfold Path—the fourth of the Buddha's Noble Truths—consists of a set of eight
interconnected factors or conditions, that when developed together, lead to the cessation of
dukkha. These eight factors are: Right View (or Right Understanding), Right Intention (or Right
Thought), Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and
Right Concentration8.

1. Right view (samyag dṛṣṭi, sammā ditthi): Viewing reality as it is, not just as it appears to be.

2. Right intention (samyag saṃkalpa, sammā sankappa): Intention of renunciation, freedom and
harmlessness.

3. Right speech (samyag vāc,sammā vāca ):Speaking in a truthful and non-hurtful way.

4. Right action (samyag karman, sammā kammanta): Acting in a non-harmful way.

5. Right livelihood (samyag ājīvana, sammā ājīva): A non-harmful livelihood.

6. Right effort (samyag vyāyāma,sammā vāyāma ):Making an effort to improve

7. Right mindfulness (samyag smṛti, sammā sati): Awareness to see things for what they are with
clear consciousness, being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or
aversion.

8. Right concentration ( samyag samādhi, sammā samādhi): Correct meditation or concentration.

Middle Way

An important guiding principle of Buddhist practice is the Middle Way (or Middle Path), which
is said to have been discovered by Gautama Buddha prior to his enlightenment9. The Middle
Way has several definitions:

1. The practice of non-extremism: a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-
indulgence and self-mortification;

2. The middle ground between certain metaphysical views (for example, that things
ultimately either do or do not exist);

3. An explanation of Nirvana (perfect enlightenment), a state wherein it becomes clear that


all dualities apparent in the world are delusory;

8
www.age-of-the-sage.org/buddhism/buddha_teachings.html

9
www.aboutbuddha.org/english/buddha-teachings.htm/
7

4. Another term for emptiness, the ultimate nature of all phenomena (in the Mahayana
branch), a lack of inherent existence, which avoids the extremes of permanence and
nihilism or inherent existence and nothingness.

The Three Marks of Existence

The Three Marks of Existence are impermanence, suffering, and not-self.

Impermanence expresses the Buddhist notion that all compounded or conditioned phenomena
(all things and experiences) are inconstant, unsteady, and impermanent. Everything we can
experience through our senses is made up of parts, and its existence is dependent on external
conditions. Everything is in constant flux, and so conditions and the thing itself are constantly
changing. Things are constantly coming into being, and ceasing to be. Since nothing lasts, there
is no inherent or fixed nature to any objects or experience. According to the doctrine of
impermanence, life embodies this flux in the aging process, the cycle of rebirth, and in any
experience of loss. The doctrine asserts that because things are impermanent, attachment to them
is futile and leads to suffering.

Suffering is also a central concept in Buddhism. The word roughly corresponds to a number of
terms in English including suffering, pain, unsatisfactoriness, sorrow, affliction, anxiety,
dissatisfaction, discomfort, anguish, stress, misery, and frustration. Although the term is often
translated as "suffering", its philosophical meaning is more analogous to "disquietude" as in the
condition of being disturbed. As such, "suffering" is too narrow a translation with "negative
emotional connotations" that can give the impression that the Buddhist view is pessimistic, but
Buddhism seeks to be neither pessimistic nor optimistic, but realistic. In English-language
Buddhist literature translated from Pāli, "dukkha" is often left untranslated, so as to encompass
its full range of meaning.

Not-self is the third mark of existence. Upon careful examination, one finds that no phenomenon
is really "I" or "mine"; these concepts are in fact constructed by the mind. In fact, the Buddha
rejected both of the metaphysical assertions "I have a Self" and "I have no Self" as ontological
views that bind one to suffering.[note 9] When asked if the self was identical with the body, the
Buddha refused to answer. By analyzing the constantly changing physical and mental
constituents of a person or object, the practitioner comes to the conclusion that neither the
respective parts nor the person as a whole comprise a self10.

The Five Percepts

10
www.thebuddhistcentre.com
8

All religions have some basic rules that define what good conduct is and what kind of conduct
should be avoided. In Buddhism, the most important rules are the five percepts. These have been
passed down from the Buddha himself.

1. No killing - Respect for life


2. No stealing - Respect for others' property
3. No sexual misconduct - Respect for our pure nature
4. No lying - Respect for honesty
5. No intoxicants - Respect for a clear mind 11

Buddhist concepts

Saṃsāra

Within Buddhism, samsara is defined as the continual repetitive cycle of birth and death that
arises from ordinary beings' grasping and fixating on a self and experiences. Specifically,
samsara refers to the process of cycling through one rebirth after another within the six realms of
existence, where each realm can be understood as physical realm or a psychological state
characterized by a particular type of suffering. Samsara arises out of avidya (ignorance) and is
characterized by dukkha (suffering, anxiety, and dissatisfaction). In the Buddhist view, liberation
from samsara is possible by following the Buddhist path.

Karma

In Buddhism, Karma is the force that drives saṃsāra—the cycle of suffering and rebirth for each
being. Good, skillful deeds and bad, unskillful actions produce "seeds" in the mind that come to
fruition either in this life or in a subsequent rebirth. The avoidance of unwholesome actions and
the cultivation of positive actions is called sīla. Karma specifically refers to those actions of
body, speech or mind that spring from mental intent and brings about a consequence or "fruit" or
"result".

In Hinayana Buddhism there can be no divine salvation or forgiveness for one's karma, since it is
a purely impersonal process that is a part of the makeup of the universe. In Mahayana Buddhism,
the texts of certain Mahayana sutras (such as the Lotus Sutra, the Aṅgulimālīya Sūtra and the
Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra) claim that the recitation or merely the hearing of their texts
can expunge great swathes of negative karma. Some forms of Buddhism (for example,
Vajrayana) regard the recitation of mantras as a means for cutting off of previous negative

11
www.aboutbuddha.org/english/buddha-teachings.htm/
9

karma. The Japanese Pure Land teacher Genshin taught that Amitābha has the power to destroy
the karma that would otherwise bind one in saṃsāra12.

Rebirth

Rebirth refers to a process whereby beings go through a succession of lifetimes as one of many
possible forms of sentient life, each running from conception to death. The doctrine of anattā
rejects the concepts of a permanent self or an unchanging, eternal soul, as it is called in
Hinduism and Christianity. According to Buddhism there ultimately is no such thing as a self-
independent from the rest of the universe. Buddhists also refer to themselves as the believers of
the anatta doctrine—Nairatmyavadin or Anattavadin. Rebirth in subsequent existences must be
understood as the continuation of a dynamic, ever-changing process of pratītyasamutpāda
("dependent arising") determined by the laws of cause and effect (karma) rather than that of one
being, reincarnating from one existence to the next13.

12
www.thebuddhistsociey.org

13
www.age-of-the-sage.org/buddhism/buddha_teachings.html
10

SPREAD OF BUDDHISM AND ITS DIVISION

Buddhism attracted the Kshatriyas, the Vaishyas and the Shudras who were all fed up of the
orthodox Brahmanical rituals preached by the Brahmanas. The Brahmanical rituals became
complicated. Whereas the teachings of Buddhism were simpler to follow and practice. Hence the
religion became popular among a larger section of the society. Due to simplicity and the efforts
of kings like Ajatshatru, Kalashoka, Ashoka, Kanishka that Buddhism became a world religion14.
It was under these kings when the Buddhist Council was held. These councils helped in the
propagation of the religion.

First Buddhist Council: 483 BC

 Held soon after the mahaparinirvana of the Buddha, around 400 BC under the patronage
of king Ajatshatru with the monk Mahakasyapa presiding, at Rajgriha.

 The idea was to preserve Buddha’s teachings (Sutta) and rules for disciples (Vinaya).
Ananda , one of the great disciples of Buddha recited Suttas and Upali, another disciple
recited Vinaya. Abhidhamma Pitaka was also included.

Second Buddhist Council: 383 BC

 It was held in 383 BC. This idea of this council was to settle a dispute on Vinaya Pitaka,
the code of discipline.

 The dispute was on 10 Points such as storing salt in horn, eating after midday, eating
once and going to villages for alms, eating sour milk after one’s meal etc. It was not
settles and Buddhism sects appeared for the first time.

 The subgroups were Sthaviravada, Mahasanghika and Sarvastivada.

 It was held at Vaishali under the patronage of King Kalasoka and the presidency of
Sabakami.

 Sthaviravada followed the teachings of the elders and Mahasanghika became extinct
later.

 Sthaviravada later continued till 3rd Buddhist council.

Third Buddhist Council: 250 BC

14
www.thebuddhistsociety.org
11

 Third Buddhist council was held in 250 BC at Pataliputra under the patronage of King
Ashoka and under the presidency of Moggaliputta Tissa. The teachings of Buddha which
were under two baskets were now classified in 3 baskets as Abhidhamma Pitaka was
established in this council, and they were known as " Tripitaka". It also tried to settle all
the disputes of Vinaya Pitaka.

Fourth Buddhist Council: 72AD

 The Fourth Buddhist Council was held at Kundalvana, Kashmir in 72 AD under the
patronage of Kushan king Kanishka and the president of this council was Vasumitra, with
Aśvaghosa as his deputy15.

In the 4th Buddhist Council which was held at Kundalvana in 72 AD this religion got divided into
two. Two major extant branches of Buddhism are: Hinayana ("The School of the Elders") and
Mahayana ("The Great Vehicle"). Hinayana has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and
Southeast Asia (Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, etc.). Mahayana is found throughout East
Asia (China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, etc.) and includes the traditions of Pure
Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Shingon, and Tiantai (Tendai). Vajrayana, a body of teachings
attributed to Indian siddhas, may be viewed as a third branch or merely a part of Mahayana.
Tibetan Buddhism, as practiced in Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, the Himalayan region of India,
Kalmykia16, Mongolia and surrounding areas, preserves the Vajrayana teachings of eighth
century India17.

HINAYANA BUDDHISM

In Hinayana Buddhism, a person may awaken from the "sleep of ignorance" by directly realizing
the true nature of reality; such people are called arahants and occasionally buddhas. After
numerous lifetimes of spiritual striving, they have reached the end of the cycle of rebirth, no
longer reincarnating as human, animal, ghost, or other being. The commentaries to the Pali
Canon classify these awakened beings into three types:

 Sammasambuddha, usually just called the Buddha, who discovers the truth by himself
and teaches the path to awakening to others

 Paccekabuddha, who discovers the truth by himself but lacks the skill to teach others

 Savakabuddha, who receive the truth directly or indirectly from a Sammasambuddha

Bodhi and nirvana carry the same meaning, that of being freed from craving, hate, and delusion.
In attaining bodhi, the arahant has overcome these obstacles. As a further distinction, the

15
Charles S. Prebish. "A Review of Scholarship on the Buddhist Councils"; Journal of Asian Studies 33 (2), pg. 239-
254
16
Barbara Sundberg Baudot, “Candles in the dark: A New Spirit for a plural world” p305
17
White, David Gordon (2000) Tantra in Practice. Princeton University Press. P.21
12

extinction of only hatred and greed (in the sensory context) with some residue of delusion, is
called anagami18.

MAHAYANA BUDDHISM

In the Mahayana, the Buddha tends not to be viewed as merely human, but as the earthly
projection of a beginningless and endless, omnipresent being (see Dharmakaya) beyond the
range and reach of thought. Moreover, in certain Mahayana sutras, the Buddha, Dharma and
Sangha are viewed essentially as one: all three are seen as the eternal Buddha himself.

The Buddha's death is seen as an illusion, he is living on in other planes of existence, and monks
are therefore permitted to offer "new truths" based on his input. Mahayana also differs from
Theravada in its concept of śūnyatā (that ultimately nothing has existence), and in its belief in
bodhisattvas (enlightened people who vow to continue being reborn until all beings can be
enlightened).

The method of self-exertion or "self-power"—without reliance on an external force or being—


stands in contrast to another major form of Buddhism, Pure Land, which is characterized by
utmost trust in the salvific "other-power" of Amitabha Buddha. Pure Land Buddhism is a very
widespread and perhaps the most faith-orientated manifestation of Buddhism and centres upon
the conviction that faith in Amitabha Buddha and the chanting of homage to his name liberates
one at death into the Blissful, Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha. This Buddhic realm is variously
construed as a foretaste of Nirvana, or as essentially Nirvana itself. The great vow of Amitabha
Buddha to rescue all beings from samsaric suffering is viewed within Pure Land Buddhism as
universally efficacious, if only one has faith in the power of that vow or chants his name19.

18
Charles S. Prebish – A to Z of Buddhism, Vision Books
19
A.K. Warder). Indian Buddhism ("The Mahayana, 'Great Vehicle' or 'Great Carriage' (for carrying all beings to
nirvana), is also, and perhaps more correctly and accurately, known as the Bodhisattvayana, the bodhisattva's
vehicle.") . (3rd edn. 1999) p. 338
13

DOWNFALL OF BUDDHISM

By the twelfth century Buddhism became virtually extinct in India. It had continued to exist in
altered form in Bengal and Bihar till the eleventh century, but after that Buddhism almost
completely vanished from India. What caused this? We find that at the outset every religion is
inspired by the spirit of reform, but eventually it succumbs to the rituals and ceremonies it
originally denounces. Buddhism underwent a similar metamorphosis. It became the victim to the
evils of Brahmanism against which it had initially fought. To meet the Buddhist challenge, the
brahmanas reformed their religion. Buddhism on the other hand change for the worse. Gradually
the Buddhist monks were cut off from the mainstream of people’s life; they gave up Pali, the
language of the people and took to Sanskrit, the language of the intellectuals. From the 1st
century onwards, they practiced idol worship on a large scale and received numerous offerings
from devotees. The rich offerings supplemented by generous royal grants to the Buddhist
monasteries made the life of monks easy. By the 7th century, the Buddhist monasteries had come
to be dominated by ease-loving people and became centers of corrupt practices which had been
prohibited by Buddha. The enormous wealth of the monasteries with increasing sexual activity
led to further degeneration. Buddhists began looking upon women as objects of lust. The Buddha
is reported to have said to his favorite disciple Ananda: “If women were not admitted into the
monasteries Buddhism would have continued for 1000 years, but because this admission has
been granted it will last only 500 years.20 ”

The Brahmana ruler Pashyamitra Shunga is said to have persecuted the Buddhists. Several
instances of persecution occur in the sixth-seventh centuries. The Huna king Mihirakula, who
was a worshipper of Shiva, killed hundreds of Buddhists. The Shaivite Shashanka of Gauda
felled the Bodhi tree at Bodh-Gaya where the Buddha had attained enlightenment. Hsuan Tsang
states that 1600 stupas and monasteries were destroyed, and thousands of monks and lay
followers killed; this may not be without some truth. The Buddhist reaction can be seen in some
pantheons in which Buddhist deities trample brahmanical deities. In south India both the
Shaivites and Vasishnavites bitterly opposed the Jains and Buddhists in early medieval times.
Such conflicts may have weakened Buddhism.

For their riches the monasteries came to be coveted by the Turkish invaders, becoming special
targets of the invaders’ greed. The Turks killed a large number of Buddhist monks in Bihar,
although some of the monks managed to escape to Nepal and Tibet. In any event, by the twelfth
century, Buddhism had virtually disappeared from the land of its birth21.

20
R.S. Sharma ,” India’s Ancient Past”,(Rev.ed), Oxford University Press, New Delhi, Pg. no 140
21
R.S. Sharma ,” India’s Ancient Past”,(Rev.ed), Oxford University Press, New Delhi
14
15

CONCLUSION

Buddhism gave the greatest jolt to the orthodox Hinduism. Buddhism exercised profound
influence in shaping the various aspects of Indian society. It developed a popular religion
without any complicated, elaborate and unintelligible rituals requiring necessarily a priestly
class. The Buddhist form of art and architecture which developed during that time is even
famous today. Apart from that the ancient Indian universities were centered on Buddhism only.
These universities made India the teacher of the world.

Today Buddhism remains as a great civilizing force in the modern world. As a civilizing force,
Buddhism awakens the self-respect and feeling of self-responsibility of countless people and stirs
up the energy of many a nation. It fosters spiritual progress by appealing to the thinking powers
of human beings. It promotes in people the sense of tolerance by remaining free from religious
and national narrowness and fanaticism. It tames the wild and refines the citizens to be clear and
sober in mind. In short, Buddhism produces the feeling of self-reliance by teaching that the
whole destiny of humanity lies in their own hands, and that they themselves possess the faculty
of developing their own energy and insight in order to reach the highest goal. For over two
thousand years, Buddhism has satisfied the spiritual needs of nearly one-fifth of mankind. Today
the appeal of Buddhism is as strong as ever. The Teachings of the Buddha remain among the
richest spiritual resources of mankind because they lift the horizon of human effort to a higher
level beyond a mere dedication to man’s insatiable needs and appetites. Owing to its breadth of
perspective, the Buddha’s vision of life has a tendency to attract intellectuals who have
exhausted their individual quest for meaning. However, the fruit of the Buddha’s vision is
something more than intellectual gymnastics or solace for the intellectually effete. Buddhism
does not encourage verbal speculation and argument for its own sake. Buddhism is practical,
rational and offers a realistic view of life and of the world. It does not entice people into living in
a fool’s paradise, nor does it frighten and agonize people with all kinds of imaginary fears and
guilt-feelings. It does not create religious fanatics to disturb the followers of other religions. The
Buddhist attitude to other religions is remarkable. Instead of converting the followers of other
religions into Buddhism, Buddhists can encourage them to practise their own religions because
Buddhists never think the followers of other religions are bad people. Buddhism tells us exactly
and objectively what we are and what the world around us is, and shows us the way to perfect
freedom, peace, tranquility and happiness. If humanity today is to be saved from reacting against
the moral standards taught by religions, Buddhism is a most effective vehicle. Buddhism is the
religion of humanity, whose founder was a human being who sought no divine revelation or
intervention in the formulation of His Teachings. In an age when human beings are overwhelmed
by their success in the control of the material universe, they might like to look back and take
stock of the achievements they have made in controlling the most difficult of all phenomena:
their own selves. It is in this quest that the modern human beings will find in Buddhism an
answer to their numerous problems and doubts. Today, Buddhism appeals to the West because it
has no dogmas, and it satisfies both the reason and the heart alike. It insists on self-reliance
16

coupled with tolerance for others. It embraces modern scientific discoveries if they are for
constructive purposes. Buddhism points to man alone as the creator of his present life and as the
sole designer of his own destiny. Such is the nature of Buddhism. This is why many modern
thinkers who are not themselves Buddhist have described Buddhism as a religion of freedom and
reason. The Buddha’s message of peace and compassion radiated in all directions and the
millions who came under its influence adopted it very readily as a new way of religious life.
17

BIBLIOGRAPHY

The researcher consulted following books for making the project:

1. R.S. Sharma – India’s Ancient Past, Oxford University Press, New Delhi.
2. Romila Thapar – The Penguin History of Early India, Scholastic India, New
Delhi.
3. A.L. Basham – The Wonder that was India, Vintage Publication.
4. Charles S. Prebish – A to Z of Buddhism, Vision Books.
5. Charles S. Prebish – Journal of Buddhist articles, Vision Books
6. John Powers - Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, New York Snow Lion
Publications.

The researcher has consulted following websites while making this project:

1. www.thebuddhistsociey.org
2. www.aboutbuddhism.com
3. www.buddhist-tourism.com
4. www.buddhaweb.org
5. www.thebuddhistcentre.com
6. www.age-of-the-sage.org/buddhism/buddha_teachings.html
7. www.aboutbuddha.org/english/buddha-teachings.htm/