Other Spellings / Synonyms :
Buddhadhamma in Pali and Buddhadharma in Sanskrit.
About Buddhist :
Adherents of Buddhism are called Buddhists. Buddhism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, who lived in northern India between 563 and 483 BCE. It is said that Buddhism grew out of Hinduism around 300 BC. Buddhists believe in the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth of the Hindus. Buddhists look at the Buddha as their guide to Nirvana, the state of enlightenment reached when one breaks out of the cycle of life. Buddhist believes in moderation in everything, the so-called middle way. It is a mellow gentle religion, which is usually tolerant of other faiths. Many Buddhists are vegetarian abhorring the taking of life.
The Four Noble Truths :
Or Chatur Arya Satya in Sanskrit. These are:
The Eight fold Path :
- Dukkha: All worldly life is unsatisfactory, disjointed, containing suffering.
- Samudaya: There is a cause of suffering, which is attachment or desire (tanha) rooted in ignorance.
- Nirodha: There is an end of suffering, which is Nirvana.
- Magga: There is a path that leads out of suffering, known as the Noble Eight fold Path.
In order to fully understand the noble truths and investigate whether they were in fact true, Lord Buddha recommended that a certain lifestyle or path be followed which consists of:
Buddhist Precepts :
- Right understanding
- Right thought
- Right speech
- Right action
- Right livelihood
- Right effort
- Right mindfulness
- Right concentrations
There are five precepts taught by Buddha that all Buddhists should follow:
- Kill no living thing
- Do not steal
- Do not commit adultery
- Tell no lies
- Do not drink intoxicants or take drugs
Gautama Buddha also known as Siddhartha
Time of Origin :
Around 480 BC
Place of Origin :
Ganges Valley, India
Buddhism is considered a major world religion with approx. 700 million followers.
Regional Spread :
Buddhism spread from India to Sri Lanka, Tibet (and thence to China and Japan), but is strongest in South-East Asian countries like Thailand, Burma and Cambodia.
Major Sects :
Buddhism is divided into two main branches:
Religious Texts :
- Theravada Buddhism (Southeast Asian) - The followers of Theravada Buddhism take the scriptures known as the "Pali suttas, vinaya and abhidhamma" (the Tipitaka/Tripitaka) as normative and authoritative.
- Mahayana Buddhism. (Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, etc.) - The followers of Mahayana Buddhism base themselves chiefly on the "Mahayana sutras" (sutra/sutta is generally a scripture in which the Buddha himself gives instruction), as well as on various versions of the vinaya.
In Theravada Buddhism, there are three groups of writings considered as Holy Scripture, known as the "Three Baskets" or Tripitaka. The Vinaya Pitaka (discipline basket) contains rules for the higher class of Buddhists; the Sutta Pitaka (teaching basket) contains the discourses of Buddha; and the Abidhamma Pitaka (metaphysical basket) contains Buddhist theology. Mahayana Buddhism contains an incredibly large amount of holy writings, over five thousand volumes.
Sacred Symbols :
There are Eight Auspicious Symbols, known in Sanskrit as Ashtamangala - Dharmachakra (Wheel), Lotus, Deer, Buddhapada (Footprints), Bodhi Tree, Empty Throne, Lions and Swastika.
Food Habits :
There is no such clear distinction between permitted and forbidden foods in Buddhism. Therefore, there is a great deal of diversity in Buddhist practice. There are some, particularly in the Mahayana school, who eat meat, fish and eggs. Others, particularly from China and Vietnam, refrain from eating the Five Pungent Spices such as garlic, onion and leek, because they are considered to increase one's sexual desire and anger. Tibetans will never eat fish, and usually stay away from foul. The reason is that different kinds of meat supposedly give different kinds of obscurations.
The first Precept of Buddhism is 'do not harm,' and many Buddhists choose to be vegetarian because of this precept. One basic tenet of Buddhism is that of reincarnation and the belief that animals can be reincarnated as humans and vice versa. As a result, Buddhists do not kill animals, and many do not eat meat or fish because this is considered to be bad for their karma.
Marriage Traditions :
Marriage in Buddhism is purely a secular affair. A Buddhist's decision to wed is not affected by or intertwined with a desire to continue the Buddhist faith. Marriage is considered a personal concern and there are no religious directions on whether or not one should marry or remain unwed. There is also no formal wedding service. However, this does not mean that Buddhist weddings do not have a rich tradition. Throughout the subcontinent, Buddhist communities have assembled creative wedding ceremonies out of Asian and Buddhist rituals.