Gautama Buddha was born in Lumbini near Kapilavastu in 563 BC.
His father’s name was Shuddhodana who was the chief of the Shakya clan.
His mother was Mayadevi or Mahamaya who was from Koliyan clan.
The childhood name of Gautam Buddha was Siddhartha.
A few days after his birth, his mother died. Therefore, he was raised by his aunt Prajapati Gautami.
He was married at the age of sixteen to Yashodhara, daughter of Shakya Clan. In the later Buddhist texts, other names of Yashodhara are Gopa, Bimba, Bhadkachhana, etc.
Their son’s name was Rahul.
Four scenes had a great impact on Buddha’s life. These were an old man, a sick person, a deceased and the blessed Saints.
Siddhartha decided to abandon his wife and children and left the home while they were sleeping. At the time of renunciation, Siddhartha was 29 years old.
Abandoning of home in Buddhist texts has been called ‘Mahabhinishkramana’.
He met the Acharya of Sankhya philosophy, Alar Kalam, near Vaishali.
Gautama got enlightened in the might of Vaishakh Purnima after six years of continuous meditation under a Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya at the age of 35. After enlightenment, he was called ‘Buddha’.
Another name of the Buddha is ‘Tathagat’, which means – whose truth is knowledge. He was called ‘Shakyamuni’ due to his birth in the Shakya clan.
After enlightenment, Gautama Buddha started preaching his opinion. From Uruvela (Bodh Gaya) he first reached Rishipattan (present-day Sarnath, Varanasi). There he gave the first sermon to five Brahmin sanyasis. This first sermon was called ‘Dharmachakrapravartana’.
He spent the second, third, and fourth year of rain at the Rajgrih. Bimbisara, the Ruler of Magadha built a ‘Mahavihara’ called ‘Velavan’ for his residence.
Travelling from Rajgriha, Buddha reached Vaishali, the capital of Lichchhivi where he spent the fifth year of the rain. Lichchhivians built the famous ‘Kutagrasala’ in Mahavan for his residence.
Vaishali’s royal courtesan, Amrapali, became his disciple and provided his Amravatika for the residence of the Buddhist monks.
In the eighth year of Enlightenment, Gautama Buddha permitted women to enter as Bhikshuni into Buddhist Sangha at Vaishali on the advice of his beloved disciple Anand.
Buddha’s aunt (Mahaprajapati) who raised him as a mother was the first woman to enter the Buddhist Sangh.
Devadatta was the cousin of Buddha. *Devadatta firstly became a follower and then became an enemy of Buddha. He wanted to remove Buddha from the Buddhist Sangh and become the head of the Sangh himself, but he did not succeed in it.
The most propagated skill of Buddhism was in the Koshal state.A wealthy businessman named Anathpindak of the Koshal kingdom became his disciple and donated him ‘Jetavana’ Vihara for the Buddhist Sangh.
Koshal King Prasenjit also adopted Buddhist religion along with his family, and he built ‘Pubbarama’ (Pura – Ram) vihara for Buddhist Sangh.
Buddha spent his last rainy season in Vaishali. While preaching Buddhism, he reached Pava, where he stayed in the Amravatika of Chund, a blacksmith. He gave Buddha ‘Sukaramaddva’ food to eat, this caused him ‘bleeding’. Then he went to Kushinagar (Kushinara) and here he gave his last sermon to Subhad.
He died in Kushinagar (capital of the Republic Mall) in 483 BC at the age of 80. In Buddhist texts, this event is called ‘Mahaparinirvana’.
Buddha’s first sermon is termed as ‘Dharmachakrapravartana’. The sermon was related to suffering, the cause of suffering and its solution. The concept of eight-fold path forms the theme of ‘Dharma Chakra Pravartana Sutra’ which means sermon of the turning of the wheel of law. He gave ‘Noble Eightfold Path’ and ‘Four Noble Truths’ which were accepted as basic tenets by all Buddhist sects.
The four noble truths are as follows.
There is suffering. ii.
There is the cause of suffering.
There is a cessation of suffering.
There is a path leading to the cessation of suffering.
The main reason for the spread of Buddhism was its simplicity. Its eight-fold path known as ‘Arya-Satya’ and concept of non-violence were simple and understandable by the common people. Buddha spread his message in the simple language or the language of common people.
Buddhism did not believe in caste-distinctions. The non-Brahmins, particularly Dalits, were attracted by the simplicity of Buddhism. They also followed the missionary concept.
First century those who believed in traditional faith were called ‘Sthavir’ or ‘Theravadi’. These were led by Mahakachchayan. Those who accepted the change were called ‘Mahasanghika’. They were led by Mahakasappa.
In the fourth Buddhist council, there was a dominance of the Mahasanghikas.
The fourth council held during the reign of Kanishka divided Buddhism into two sects, namely Hinayana and Mahayana.
In Mahayana, Gautama Buddha was treated as God and its followers started worshipping Buddha through idols. Gautama Buddha was elevated to the position of God during the period of Kanishka.
The fundamental difference between Hinayana and Mahayana sects of Buddhism is regarding treating Buddha as God. Hinayana believes in Buddha as a great man, whereas Mahayana started worshipping Buddha through idols treating him as God.
Sarvastivada literally means “Doctrine that all exist”. Sarvastivadin described a complex system in which past present and future phenomena are all held to have some form of their own existence.
Like all Buddhist, the Sarvastivadins consider everything empirical to be transient but they maintain that the dharma factors are eternally existing realities.
Impermanence, also called Anitya, is one of the essential doctrines and part of three marks of existence in Buddhism. This doctrine was presented by Buddha himself. The doctrine asserts that all of conditioned existence, without exception, is “transient, evanescent, inconstant”. This impermanence is a source of Dukkha (sufferings).
Nagarjuna’s primary contribution to Buddhist philosophy was the use of the concept of Sunyata or doctrine of void. The famous literary work “Madhyamika Karika” provides one of Nagarjuna’s most famous quotations on emptiness or co-arising. Nagarjuna was an eminent personality in the court of Kanishka. *Hiuen Tsang called him one of the world’s four great guiding powers. In the book “Madyamik Karika” he has discussed the theory of relativity. He is also known as the Indian Einstein. According to Chinese mythology, Nagarjuna travelled to China and preached Buddhism.
‘Maitreya’ has been called ‘future Buddha’ in Buddhist tradition. *“Padmapani or “Lotus-Bearer” is one of the most common epithets of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of infinite compassion. This superbly modelled sculpture stands in a tribhanga or tri-bent pose.
A Bodhisattva is a living being (sattva) who aspires to enlightenment (bodhi) and carries out altruistic practices. The Bodhisattva ideal is central to the Mahayana Buddhist tradition as the individual who seeks enlightenment both for himself or herself and for others.
In order to preach the doctrine of Buddhism (Mahatma Buddha), the Buddhists compiled a new type of literature (Tripitaka) that can be divided into three categories – (1) Sutta Pitaka, (2) Vinaya Pitaka and (3) Abhidhamma Pitaka.
Sutta Pitaka contains the sayings and teachings of the Buddha. Vinaya Pitaka deals with the rules to be observed by members of the Sangha. Abhiddhamma Pitaka presents the philosophical exposition of the Dhamma.
The Abhidhamma Pitaka consists of seven books – Yamaka, Patthana, Kathavatthu, Puggalapannatti, Dhatukatha, Vibhanga and Dhammasangani.
The religious texts of the Buddhists, in which the stories of the previous birth of Gautama Buddha are compiled, are called Jataka. It is written in the Pali language.
In Bhumisparsha Mudra, Buddha is seen seated with his right hand as a pendant over the right knee reaching towards the ground with the palm inward while touching the lotus throne. In the meantime, the left hand can be seen with the palm upright in his lap. This gesture represents the moment of the Buddha’s awakening as he claims the earth as the witness of his enlightenment just before he realized enlightenment.
During the Buddhist period, some of the most important centres of learning in India were Nalanda, Vikramshila and Vallabhi. These centres of learning were not only popular among the different Janapadas from where students came for learning but also attracted students from abroad i.e. China, Japan, Tibet and other countries of South-East Asia.
Nalanda was the main centre for the education of Mahayana Buddhism and Vallabhi for Hinayana Buddhism.
Vikramshila Mahavihara was established by Pala King Dharmapala.
Odantipur (also called as Uddandapura) was a prominent education centre of ancient time. It was situated in Magadha, now Bihar, India. It was established by the Pala emperor Gopala first.
“Chaitya” literally means – related to Chita. *Samadhis were built on the ground after the burial of dead bodies, they were initially called Chaitya or Stupa. In these samadhis, residues of great men were kept safe therefore, Chaityas became a centre of worship.
The houses built near monasteries or Chaitya Griha were called Vihara.
The word stupa has been used for the fi rst time in Rig Veda. In Rig Veda texts, stupa means “tree stem.” Rigveda refers to a stupa raised by the king Varuna above the forest in a place having no foundation. Anything that is raised on the ground like heap/pile might have been known as Stupa. The Stupa at Bodhgaya is related to the enlightenment of Buddha.
Sanchi Stupa is not related to any episode of Buddha’s life. In these stupas the remains of Buddha or his chief disciples were kept, so they became the main centres of devotion and worship of the Buddhists.
Gautama Buddha is known as ‘Light of Asia’. The book ‘Light of Asia’ on the life of Gautama Buddha was written by Edwin Arnold.
Mahaparinirvana temple is located in Kushinagar district of Uttar Pradesh. Statue of Lord Buddha in the temple was obtained by excavation in 1876 AD. The statue of Lord Buddha is 6.10 meters high in this temple and is placed in a lying pose.
This idol reflects the period when Lord Buddha at the age of 80 left his earthly body and became free from the bondage of death i.e Parinirvana.
Multiple Choice Question on Gautam Buddha
Gautam Buddha was born in which present-day country? a) India b) Nepal c) Bangladesh d) Sri Lanka Solution: b) Nepal
What was Gautam Buddha’s birth name? a) Siddhartha Gautama b) Ashoka the Great c) Chandragupta Maurya d) Mahavira Solution: a) Siddhartha Gautama
At what age did Siddhartha Gautama leave his palace to seek enlightenment? a) 20 b) 25 c) 29 d) 35 Solution: c) 29
Where did Siddhartha Gautama achieve enlightenment? a) Lumbini b) Sarnath c) Bodh Gaya d) Kushinagar Solution: c) Bodh Gaya
What is the term used to describe Gautam Buddha’s teachings? a) Vedas b) Upanishads c) Dhamma d) Tantra Solution: c) Dhamma
Gautam Buddha’s first sermon is known as: a) Mahabharata b) Ramayana c) Tripitaka d) Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta Solution: d) Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
Which noble truth states that suffering exists? a) Dukkha b) Samudaya c) Nirodha d) Magga Solution: a) Dukkha
What is the final goal of Buddhist practice? a) Nirvana b) Moksha c) Karma d) Samsara Solution: a) Nirvana
The Eightfold Path is also known as: a) Noble Truth b) Middle Way c) Five Precepts d) Four Brahmaviharas Solution: b) Middle Way
What is the symbol representing Gautam Buddha’s teachings? a) Swastika b) Om c) Dharmachakra d) Lotus Solution: c) Dharmachakra
Gautam Buddha emphasized the practice of: a) Meditation b) Sacrifice c) Rituals d) Asceticism Solution: a) Meditation
Who was Gautam Buddha’s famous disciple? a) Mahavira b) Ashoka the Great c) Ananda d) Devadatta Solution: c) Ananda
Gautam Buddha preached his teachings primarily in which language? a) Sanskrit b) Pali c) Prakrit d) Magadhi Solution: b) Pali
What is the term for the community of Buddhist monks and nuns? a) Ashram b) Vihara c) Sangha d) Gurukula Solution: c) Sangha
Which king became a Buddhist after witnessing the horrors of war? a) Chandragupta Maurya b) Ashoka the Great c) Kanishka the Great d) Bimbisara Solution: b) Ashoka the Great
Gautam Buddha’s teachings are preserved in a collection called: a) Vedas b) Upanishads c) Tripitaka d) Bhagavad Gita Solution: c) Tripitaka
Gautam Buddha rejected the caste system prevalent in: a) Hinduism b) Jainism c) Sikhism d) Zoroastrianism Solution: a) Hinduism
Gautam Buddha’s father was the ruler of which kingdom? a) Magadha b) Kosala c) Kapilavastu d) Kalinga Solution: c) Kapilavastu
What is the term for Gautam Buddha’s departure from his luxurious lifestyle? a) Parinirvana b) Mahaparinibbana c) Mahaparinirvana d) Mahasamadhi Solution: c) Mahaparinirvana
Gautam Buddha’s teachings were primarily focused on: a) Material wealth b) Spiritual enlightenment c) Political power d) Social status Solution: b) Spiritual enlightenment
Gautam Buddha advocated for the practice of: a) Non-violence b) War c) Caste discrimination d) Animal sacrifice Solution: a) Non-violence
Which city is considered the holiest pilgrimage site for Buddhists? a) Varanasi b) Bodh Gaya c) Lumbini d) Sarnath Solution: b) Bodh Gaya
Gautam Buddha’s teachings spread to various countries, including: a) China b) Japan c) Sri Lanka d) All of the above Solution: d) All of the above
The festival celebrating Gautam Buddha’s birth is called: a) Diwali b) Holi c) Vesak d) Navratri Solution: c) Vesak
Gautam Buddha attained parinirvana in which place? a) Lumbini b) Sarnath c) Kushinagar d) Bodh Gaya Solution: c) Kushinagar
Gautam Buddha is often depicted in a seated posture known as: a) Samadhi b) Padmasana c) Dhyan mudra d) Anjali mudra Solution: c) Dhyan mudra
The core philosophy of Gautam Buddha can be summarized as: a) Four Noble Truths b) Five Pillars of Faith c) Ten Commandments d) Eightfold Path Solution: a) Four Noble Truths
Gautam Buddha’s teachings had a significant influence on the development of which Asian martial art? a) Kung Fu b) Judo c) Taekwondo d) Karate Solution: a) Kung Fu
Gautam Buddha’s teachings are often classified as: a) Monotheistic b) Polytheistic c) Non-theistic d) Pantheistic Solution: c) Non-theistic
The branch of Buddhism prevalent in Tibet is known as: a) Theravada Buddhism b) Mahayana Buddhism c) Vajrayana Buddhism d) Zen Buddhism Solution: c) Vajrayana Buddhism
Gautam Buddha’s teachings had a profound impact on the development of which ancient Indian empire? a) Maurya Empire b) Gupta Empire c) Chola Empire d) Vijayanagara Empire Solution: a) Maurya Empire
Gautam Buddha’s mother’s name was: a) Maya b) Sita c) Draupadi d) Radha Solution: a) Maya
Gautam Buddha is said to have achieved enlightenment under which tree? a) Banyan tree b) Neem tree c) Peepal tree d) Mango tree Solution: c) Peepal tree
Gautam Buddha’s teachings emphasize the concept of impermanence, known as: a) Anicca b) Dukkha c) Anatta d) Karuna Solution: a) Anicca
The “Three Jewels” in Buddhism refer to: a) Buddha, Dharma, Sangha b) Compassion, Wisdom, Enlightenment c) Karma, Samsara, Nirvana d) Meditation, Chanting, Rituals Solution: a) Buddha, Dharma, Sangha
Gautam Buddha’s cousin, Ananda, played a significant role in: a) Writing down the Buddha’s teachings b) Establishing Buddhist monasteries c) Spreading Buddhism to Southeast Asia d) Engaging in philosophical debates Solution: a) Writing down the Buddha’s teachings
The first sermon of Gautam Buddha was delivered to: a) His disciples b) Brahmins c) Merchants d) Kings and nobles Solution: a) His disciples
The term “Bodhisattva” refers to: a) A fully enlightened being b) An aspirant seeking enlightenment c) A Buddhist monk d) A sacred text in Buddhism Solution: b) An aspirant seeking enlightenment
Gautam Buddha’s teachings had a significant influence on the development of which branch of psychology? a) Psychoanalysis b) Behaviorism c) Humanistic psychology d) Mindfulness-based therapy Solution: d) Mindfulness-based therapy
The symbol of the “Wheel of Life” represents: a) The cycle of birth and death b) The path to enlightenment c) The unity of all beings d) The cosmic order Solution: a) The cycle of birth and death
Gautam Buddha’s teachings are based on: a) Divine revelation b) Philosophical speculation c) Personal experience d) Scriptural authority Solution: c) Personal experience
Gautam Buddha’s teachings emphasize the importance of: a) Material possessions b) Sensual pleasures c) Renunciation d) Social status Solution: c) Renunciation
The term “Noble Eightfold Path” includes aspects such as: a) Right understanding, right action, right livelihood b) Right effort, right concentration, right mindfulness c) Right view, right intention, right speech d) All of the above Solution: d) All of the above
Gautam Buddha’s teachings promote the cultivation of qualities such as: a) Loving-kindness, compassion, and equanimity b) Greed, hatred, and ignorance c) Power, fame, and wealth d) Dogma, ritual, and blind faith Solution: a) Loving-kindness, compassion, and equanimity
Gautam Buddha’s teachings encourage individuals to take responsibility for: a) Their own actions and their consequences b) The actions of others c) Achieving worldly success d) Accumulating material wealth Solution: a) Their own actions and their consequences
Gautam Buddha’s teachings emphasize the practice of mindfulness, which refers to: a) Paying attention to the present moment with non-judgmental awareness b) Engaging in ritualistic practices c) Focusing on achieving supernatural powers d) Seeking pleasures and desires Solution: a) Paying attention to the present moment with non-judgmental awareness
Gautam Buddha’s teachings are often referred to as the “Middle Way” because they advocate for: a) Extreme asceticism and self-mortification b) Hedonistic indulgence and sensual pleasures c) Striking a balance between extreme practices and indulgence d) Complete detachment from worldly affairs Solution: c) Striking a balance between extreme practices and indulgence
Gautam Buddha’s teachings are open to people of: a) All genders and castes b) Only the Brahmin caste c) Only the male gender d) Only the ruling class Solution: a) All genders and castes
Gautam Buddha’s teachings are relevant to modern society because they address: a) The causes of suffering and ways to overcome it b) Political ideologies and power struggles c) Scientific advancements and technological innovations d) The pursuit of material wealth and consumerism Solution: a) The causes of suffering and ways to overcome it
Gautam Buddha’s teachings inspire individuals to cultivate inner peace and: a) Practice loving-kindness towards oneself and others b) Engage in worldly attachments and desires c) Seek external validation and fame d) Abandon personal responsibilities and duties Solution: a) Practice loving-kindness towards oneself and others