• Founded by Gautam Buddha (Original Name Siddhartha)
  • Born in 563 BC at Lumbini in Nepal near Kapilavastu (As a kshatriya in Shakya clan)
  • Parents Suddhodhana & Mahamaya
  • Left Home at the age of 29 in search of truth & did intense penance & meditation
  • Attained Nirvana under a Pipal tree at Bodh Gaya & henceforth known as Buddha (The enlightened one)
  • Delivered his 1st sermon at Sarnath (Banaras) & died at the age of 80 at Kushinagar (U.P)


Noble truth by Buddha

  • World is full of sorrow
  • People suffer on account of desires
  • If desires are conquered, Nirvana can be achieved i.e. free from cycle of birth & death & which can be done by following 8 fold path (ashtangika marga):


Right Understanding Right Determination Right Speech Right Action
Right livelihood Right Exercise Right Mindfulness Right Medication



Tri Ratnas of Buddhism

  • Budhha (The enlightened)
  • Dhamma ( Doctrine of Buddhism)
  • Sangha (Order of Buddhism)


Teachings by Buddha

  • Budhha was a practical reformer & did not believe in soul or god or metaphysical world & concerned himself with the worldly problems
  • Suggested that a person should avoid excess of both, Luxury & Austerity & prescribed a middle path
  • Laid great emphasis on Karma (Varna based on action not on birth) & Ahimsa
  • Opposed varna system & laid down the principle of social equality


Spread of Buddhism

  • Buddhism had 2 kinds of disciples – Monks (Bhikshus) & Lay worshippers (Upasikas)
  • Monks were organised into sangha for the purpose of spread of Buddhist teachings
  • Membership was open to all, Male or female without any cast distinction, but every member had to take vow of continence, poverty & faith (Penance to achieve liberation )
  • Use of Pali language also contributed to the spread of Buddhism


Buddhist Text

  • Tripitakas All written in Pali Language
  • Sutta-pitaka
  • Vinaya-pitaka
  • Abhidhamma-pitaka


Contribution of Buddhism

  • Slaves & debtors couldn’t join sangha rule helped moneylenders & richer sections of society
  • Earliest Budhhist text “ Suttanipata” pleads for protection of cattles & helped to prevent their decimation
  • Taught people to put reason in everything & pleaded for logic instead of superstitions hence promoted rationalism in people
  • Promoted education through residential universities like Valabhi, Nalanda & Vikramshila
  • Formed Hybrid Sanskrit by mixture of Pali & Sanskrit


Cause of Decline

  • Revival of Brahmanism & rise of Bhagavatism
  • Use of Sanskrit instead of Pali from 4th Buddhist council (Around 100 AD)
  • After birth of Mahayana, Practice of Idol worship, Huge offerings & donations became common & led to the deterioration of moral standards
  • Attack of Hunas (Around 500 – 600 AD) & Attack of Turkish invaders (1200 AD) destroyed major Buddhist Monasteries
  • Brahamana ruler Pushyamitra have said to persecuted Buddhists
  • Shaivite Shashanka have said to cut the original Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya

Buddhist Councils

1st Council @ Rajgir

  • Was held immediately after the death of Buddha at Saptaparni cave in which the unwritten teachings of Buddha were penned down after his death.
  • Held at Rajgir under the patronage of Ajatashatru under the chairmanship of Mahakashyap
  • Ananda composed Suttapitaka (Buddha’s Teachings) & Upali composed Vinaypitaka ( Monastic code for Buddhism)


2nd Council @ Vaishali

  • Was held approx. 100 years after the death of Buddha under the patronage of King Kalasoka under the chairmanship of Sabakami
  • Mainly due to 10 disputed points under Vinaypitaka (Monastic codes of Buddhism)


3rd Council @ Patliputra

  • Held under the patronage of Ashoka under the chairmanship of Mogliputra tissa
  • Compilation of Abhidhamma pitaka took place (Philosophical exposition of Budhhism)
  • Budhhism preached & Propagated by Ashoka is known as Hinyana


4th Council @ Kashmir

  • Held under the patronage of Kanishka under the chairmanship of Vasumitra
  • Resulted in division of Buddhism into Hinyana & Mahayana
  • Asvaghosa participated in this council & all the deliberations were made in Sanskrit

Origin of Mahayana Buddhism

  • Monks around beginning of Christian era started to accept huge cash & donations & even started accepting non-vegetarian foreigners in Sangha
  • Monks became more lax in day to day life, started accepting gold & silver, started eating non-veg food & started wearing elaborated robes
  • Disciples even deserted religious order of Sangha & resumed their householder’s life; Started using Sanskrit instead of Pali & started worshipping statues of Buddha & started practicing rituals instead of his symbols.
  • This new kind of Buddhism was known as Mahayana (Greater vehicle) & Hinyana (Lesser vehicle); the former believed in image worship, rituals and Bodhisattvas, (incarnations of Buddha) while the latter continued the practices of the earlier Buddhism.


Mahayana Hinyana
Individual as center & firm to letter of Buddhist teachings Sangha as center & firm to essence of Buddhist teaching
Scriptures written in sanskrit are sutra, in Angas Scriptures written in Pali as Pitakas
Salvation by work & Believed in Karmas Salvation by faith & Believed in karma
Strives after his own salvation Concerned with the salvation of others
India Yearbook English India Yearbook Hindi Economic Survey 2017


  1. Thanks For this wonderful post on Buddhism. I love the reading.

  2. Please have look and fix bugs on the ancient history link

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