A religion and philosophy, Buddhism is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, the "Buddha". Buddhism has emerged as a universal religion since its origin 2500 years ago. It is a fast growing religion especially in the western countries like Australia and United States.
Buddha means 'Enlightened one'. Siddhartha Gautama, the prince of Lombini, was impelled by a desire to deal the sorrows of human existence. At 29,he initiated a voyage by renouncing all attachments to worldly pleasures to seek an answer for the misery of human condition. Buddha attained a higher state of enlightenment after six years of rigorous tests including self-mortification and long period of fasts. Later, meditated beneath the Bodhi tree to achieve supreme enlightenment. Spent the later parts of his life establishing Buddhist monastic order or'Sangha' of monks and nuns. Died at the age of 80,in a small town called Kusinara.
Creation of major Buddhist sects due to philosophical differences led to its rapid spread. Buddhism is a principal/National religion in many countries such as in Japan, Sri-Lanka, China and many South East Asian Nations. Spread and influence of Buddhism had begun to be widened since the efforts of Emperor Asoka in 3rd century BC. Unfortunately, it has declined in its country of origin, India.
Explosions of interest have occurred in Buddhism in the western countries. It is argued that Buddhism always entered a rich and dynamic relationship with its host culture. Its teachings are relevant to modern society. It explores human sufferings to some extraordinary level and tries to discover freedom and dignity on the Buddhist path.