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A Few Minutes Series – History(1st March)

By March 1, 2022March 9th, 2022Ancient History, GS1, History

History

Buddhism:

  • 6th century BCE – A period of great Religious upheaval – As many as 63 Heterodox sects came forward to challenge the Brahmanical dominance prevalent at that time, Out of these 63 – Buddhism and Jainism came to the forefront and laid a strong foundation that exists even to this day.
  • Causes of Origin of these sects
  • Revolt against Brahmanical Dominance – Kshatriya reaction against the dominance of the Brahmans.
  • Rise of new Agricultural Economy which demanded Animal Husbandry.
  • Patronizing of these sects by Vaishyas and other mercantile groups who wanted better social status and a reign of peace. (6th can CE – Era of Second Urbanisation)
  • Simple methods of these new sects as compared to complex rituals of Vedic Age.

Sources of Buddhism and their ideology

  • Canonical texts – Directly linked to Gautam Buddha in one way or the other. (Difference among various sects as to, which source can be considered as canonical).
  • Books which lay down the basic tenets and principles of Buddhism such as the Tipitakas (The Three Baskets/Collections). These are the Buddha’s teachings written on long Narrow Leaves.
    • Sutta Pitaka (Conventional Teaching) – recited by Ananda
    • Vinaya Pitaka (Disciplinary Code) – recited by Upali
    • Abhidhamma Pitaka (Moral Psychology)
  • Sutta Pitaka (Basket of Discourses) – These texts are known as words of Buddha as it refers to what the Buddha himself said, The authority of these texts has been accepted by all the schools of Buddhism. These texts are arranged in the manner of how they were delivered by Buddha.
  • Vinaya Pitaka (Discipline Basket) – This contains the rule for monks and nuns of the Monastic Order (Sangha).
  • Abhidhamma Pitaka (Basket of Higher Teachings) – contains a thorough study and systemization of the teachings of the Sutta Pitaka through summaries, questions, and answers.
  • Sutta Pitaka (Basket of Discourses) – These texts are known as words of Buddha as it refers to what the Buddha himself said, The authority of these texts has been accepted by all the schools of Buddhism. These texts are arranged in the manner of how they were delivered by Buddha.
  • Vinaya Pitaka (Discipline Basket) – This contains the rule for monks and nuns of the Monastic Order (Sangha).
  • Abhidhamma Pitaka (Basket of Higher Teachings) – contains a thorough study and systemization of the teachings of the Sutta Pitaka through summaries, questions, and answers.

Non-canonical texts or semi-canonical texts

  • Commentaries and observations on canonical texts, Historic information, quotes, etc.
    • Milindaphano – A dialogue in Pali language consisting of a conversation between Indo-Greek King Milinda/Menander and the monk Nagasena.
    • Neetipakrana – The book on Guidance, which gives a connected account of the Buddha’s teaching.
  • Vishuddhimagga – The Path to Purity, written by Buddhaghosa, deals with the development from the purity of discipline to Nibbana/enlightenment.
  • Nidanakatha – First connected life story of Buddha.
  • Dipavamsa and Mahavamasa – Historical cum mythical account of Buddha’s life in Pali Language-based out of Srilanka.
  • Mahavastu – written in mixed Sanskrit – Prakrit, lays down the hagiography of Buddha.

Buddha – The Story

  • The sacred biography of Buddha is briefed in Sutta and Vinaya Pitaka.
  • According to sources, Gautam Buddha (Sakyamuni/Tathagata) was born as Siddhartha in 563 BCE at Lumbini (Nepal) to father – Suddodana (Chief of Republic Sakya Clan, who ruled from Kapilavastu in the Kosala Kingdom) and mother – Mahamaya (Princess of Kosala dynasty), who died at the time of his birth, and thus he was raised by his stepmother Gautami. (32 marks of Mahapursha)
  • According to sources, Gautam Buddha (Sakyamuni/Tathagata) was born as Siddhartha in 563 BCE at Lumbini (Nepal) to father – Suddodana (Cheif of Republic Sakya Clan, who ruled from Kapilavastu in the Kosala Kingdom) and mother – Mahamaya (Princess of Kosala dynasty), who died at the time of his birth, and thus he was raised by his stepmother Gautami. (32 marks of Mahapursha)/

Life of Buddha

  • At the age of 29, he saw an old man, a sick man, a corpse, and an ascetic, and thus he left his place to become a wanderer in the last phase of dark night with Channa, the charioteer, and his favorite horse Kanthaka in search of truth (Mahabhinishkramana/Great Renunciation) and thus he wandered for 6 years.
  • He meditated with established teachers of that era (Alara Kalama, Uddaka Ramaputta)
  • Then, being unconvinced he left all the teachers and sat on the foot journey in search of truth with his 5 companions – Kondanna, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahanama, and Assaji – he practiced severe austerities until his body was almost emaciated, and thus he realized that these austerities will not lead to enlightenment.
  • Then he reached the village named Senani, where he was offered a bowl of milk rice by a girl named Sujata, because of which his companions deserted him. After all this, he took a seat under the Peepal tree facing east, where he resolved not to rise again until enlightenment was attained.
  • The story of Mara – The lord of Illusions happened to distract Buddha from his vow, but Gautam’s wisdom broke through his illusion, and the power of his compassion transformed the demon’s weapons into flowers.

  • Thus, at the age of 35, he ultimately attained Nirvana/Enlightenment at Gayam under a Peepal Tree at Uruvela, on the banks of river Niranjana, and came to be known as Buddha, the enlightened one.
  • (Attempts to Destroy this tree – By Ashoka’s queen, Pushyamitra Sunga in 2nd can BCE and King Shasanka in 600 AD)
  • Buddha delivered his first sermon on the deliverance of suffering to his five former companions who had deserted him in a deer park at Sarnath.
  • This event is known as ‘Dhamma Chakka Pavattana’ meaning ‘turning the wheel of Dharma’ – and this way his disciples became Arhats. (A perfected person, one who has gained insight into the true nature of existence and has achieved nirvana (spiritual enlightenment)
  • Thus, Buddha constituted an audience of his disciples which came to be known as Sangha.
  • He finally attained Mahaparinirbana at the age of 80 at Kusinara (Malla Mahajanapada).
    • His last words were – ‘All composite things decay, stove diligently’

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