[Home Page]

[Depiction of Buddhas - Index][Chinese Books - Index][English Books - Index][Sutras - Index]

  History of Buddhism  

From the EditorGlossaryTemples

Sakyamuni Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama)

Sakyamuni Buddha (founder of Buddhism) was born about 2500 years ago on the 8th of April 545 B.C. in the Lumbini park near Kapilavastu, northeastern India.

His father, Sudhodana , was a ruler of Kapilavastu Sakya warrior class; his mother, Maya , died seven days after giving birth, and he was brought up by his Aunt, Mahabosubuddli .

Upon his birth his destiny was predicted either to become a universal monarch or a Buddha, who would teach countless living beings to find happiness and enlightenment.

As a young Prince, he lived a very sheltered life in the palace and was forbidden to travel beyond the Palace courtyard by his father.

Searching for an answer

At the age of 29, he secretly sneaked out of the palace and wandered around the city. During his excursions, he witnessed a lot of citizens suffering from poverty, old age, sickness and death. Disappointed by the experience, he decided to leave his family and become a monk to search for "Enlightenment".

For the first 6 years, he adopted the "severest asceticism" method to search for the answer, which at the end led nowhere, consequently suffered poor health and was on the brink of death. He realized that this method would not work and changed his approach. At the age of 35, he attained "Enlightenment" under the Bo tree in Buddha-Gaya.

Quote: "Enlightenment" must be directly experienced by self-realization and by practicing the Ways to eliminate "Greed, Hatred and Ignorance" that could cloud an individual's true nature.

After Buddha's Enlightenment

Accompanied by his disciples, Buddha traveled all over India, teaching his doctrines, which were recorded by his contemporary disciples.

His teachings later spread northward into Tibet, China, Korea and Japan, southward to Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam; and in 19th century to Europe, Australia and the USA.

For the first twelve years, Buddha Siddhartha Gautama taught "The Flower Adornment Sutra" , and later realized that such teaching was too advanced for the public in general to understand or accept, so he gradually included his teachings, "Pure Land Sutra" , which is one of the simpler approaches for those who wanted to cultivate in order to overcome the Cycle of Transmigration (see six sectors).

After Buddha passed away

Buddhist Councils

Three months after Buddha passed away, his followers called for the first meeting in order to preserve Buddha's Teachings.

One of his disciples, Ananda , famous for having a good memory, was also chosen as one of the members amongst the 500 Arhats to recite all the Buddha's sermons.

Responsibled for Sutra collections
Recited all the guidelines, rules etc, to form Vinayapitaka
Question and answer about Buddha's teaching, then gather together to form Abhidhamma.

Two other Buddhist Councils were later held after 100 and 236 years respectively from the first one.

In B.C. 83, the Buddhist Scriptures were first written on ola leaves during King Sinhala's reign of Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka), where a meeting was held in a village known as Aluvihara.

In 1203 A.D., Buddhism gradually diminished and disappeared in India after temples were destroyed and monks killed by followers of other religions. In the 17th century, with the help of British, a start was made to archive the teachings of Buddha and Latin was used to convert the sound of Sanskrit.

Note:- Monks through vivid recollection of memories and recitations passed on the teachings of Buddha to the next generations at that time.

Buddhism in China

Buddhism reached China via the Silk Road Trade route during the latter period of the Chun Dynasty (B.C. 221-206), and from the Han Dynasty (B.C. 2) onwards.

The Emperors invited numerous Indian Monks to China to translate most of the Sutras into the Chinese language, which were then documented on stone tablets and later onto paper. (one of the Chinese inventions)

Today, the collection of Chinese Sutras are comparatively more thorough and, perhaps, more precise.

In a collection known as Tai-Chong Jin , with more than 168 volumes, if one were to spent three months to read one volume, then a total of 42 years would be required to read the whole collection once.

84,000 Different Ways of Cultivation

There are 84,000 different ways to cultivate enlightenment and Buddha's teaching is about helping others, doing good deeds, to love and respect all sentient beings, perfecting ourselves, understanding, abstaining from "greed, hatred, and to learn in order to overcome ignorance" etc.

There are religions in this world teaching people similar caring and loving natures, that can also ultimately lead an individual to perfection.

Those who have not adopted any religion or teaching can also cultivate enlightenment in their own WAY by not harming others and abstaining from negative activities in their daily lifestyle, which constitutes one of the 84,000 Ways.

From the Editor

Buddha said: "Every sentient being was a Buddha before , only he walked a few steps before us to attain enlightenment and his teachings were from his experiences". 

One could learn from his experiences, hope that could guide us to progressing which requires "self-realization".

We hope this website will be of some assistance to those who seek Buddha's teachings and search for the "Ways of Cultivation".

For more information:- Do read other Buddhism books.