Buddhism is the world’s fourth-largest religion, with over 520 million followers or over 7% of the global population. It follows the non-theistic tradition and is primarily concerned with teaching the right way to lead a good life with its principles of karma and rebirth.
Buddhism chapter begins with the story of Buddha, somewhere between 6th century BC and 4th century BC. Note that his actual name was Gautama Siddhartha, and Buddha is the title awarded to him.
It is believed that he was born in Lumbini, which is in present day Nepal. Before his birth, his mother saw a dream, which was interpreted (by a sage) telling her that she would have a son and that son would go on to become a great king or spiritual leader.
Gautama’s father Suddhodana, an elected chief of the Shakya clan”, wanted his son to become a great king and not a spiritual leader. So, in order to maintain Gautama’s interest in worldly things, his father bestowed all kinds of luxuries and pleasure upon him. He enjoyed the comforts, got married and even had a son, until…
Until, one day, when he ventured outside his palace and saw a diseased man, a corpse and an ascetic. This disturbed him deeply, and he started to realise that life comes with sufferings. This changed his life and he left everything in search of meaning.
After travelling extensively and meditating, Gautama discovered the Middle Way – a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification. Following this, Gautama famously sat under a pipal tree in Bodh Gaya, India – where he finally attained Enlightenment.
Here are the four noble truths that Buddha upheld:
It is a noteworthy fact that Buddhism did not spread immediately after the death of Buddha, and it was King Ashoka who made it the state religion in 3rd century BC.
Books on Buddhism: