Gautama Buddha, also known as Siddhārtha Gautama, Shakyamuni, or simply the Buddha, was a sage on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. He is . Religion, Philosophy, and all things based on Faith. Download: The history of Buddhism is the story of one man's spiritual journey to Enlightenment, and of the teachings .
Published on May 10, 2015
Gautama Buddha, also known as Siddhārtha Gautama, Shakyamuni, or simply the Buddha, was a sage on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. He is believed to have lived and taught mostly in eastern India sometime between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE.
The word Buddha means "awakened one" or "the enlightened one". "Buddha" is also used as a title for the first awakened being in an era. In most Buddhist traditions, Siddhartha Gautama is regarded as the Supreme Buddha (Pali sammāsambuddha, Sanskrit samyaksaṃbuddha) of our age. Gautama taught a Middle Way between sensual indulgence and the severe asceticism found in the Sramana (renunciation) movement common in his region. He later taught throughout regions of eastern India such as Magadha and Kośala.
Gautama is the primary figure in Buddhism and accounts of his life, discourses, and monastic rules are believed by Buddhists to have been summarized after his death and memorized by his followers. Various collections of teachings attributed to him were passed down by oral tradition and first committed to writing about 400 years later.
Scholars are hesitant to make unqualified claims about the historical facts of the Buddha's life. Most accept that he lived, taught and founded a monastic order during the Mahajanapada era in India during the reign of Bimbisara, the ruler of the Magadha empire, and died during the early years of the reign of Ajatshatru who was the successor of Bimbisara, thus making him a younger contemporary of Mahavira, the Jain teacher. Apart from the Vedic Brahmins, the Buddha's lifetime coincided with the flourishing of other influential sramana schools of thoughts like Ājīvika, Cārvāka, Jain, and Ajñana. It was also the age of influential thinkers like Mahāvīra, Pūraṇa Kassapa , Makkhali Gosāla, Ajita Kesakambalī, Pakudha Kaccāyana, and Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta, whose viewpoints the Buddha most certainly must have been acquainted with and influenced by.[note 7] Indeed, Sariputta and Maudgalyāyana, two of the foremost disciples of the Buddha, were formerly the foremost disciples of Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta, the skeptic. There is also evidence to suggest that the two masters, Alara Kalama and Udaka Ramaputta, were indeed historical figures and they most probably taught Buddha two different forms of meditative techniques. While the most general outline of "birth, maturity, renunciation, search, awakening and liberation, teaching, death" must be true, most scholars do not consistently accept all of the details contained in traditional biographies.
The times of Gautama's birth and death are uncertain. Most historians in the early 20th century dated his lifetime as circa 563 BCE to 483 BCE. More recently his death is dated later, between 411 and 400 BCE, while at a symposium on this question held in 1988, the majority of those who presented definite opinions gave dates within 20 years either side of 400 BCE for the Buddha's death. These alternative chronologies, however, have not yet been accepted by all historians.
The evidence of the early texts suggests that Siddhārtha Gautama was born into the Shakya clan, a community that was on the periphery, both geographically and culturally, of the northeastern Indian subcontinent in the 5th century BCE. It was either a small republic, in which case his father was an elected chieftain, or an oligarchy, in which case his father was an oligarch. According to the Buddhist tradition, Gautama was born in Lumbini, nowadays in modern-day Nepal, and raised in Kapilavastu (Shakya capital), which may either be in present day Tilaurakot, Nepal or Piprahwa, India.[note 1] He obtained his enlightenment in Bodh Gaya, gave his first sermon in Sarnath, and died in Kushinagara.
No written records about Gautama have been found from his lifetime or some centuries thereafter. One edict of Emperor Ashoka, who reigned from circa 269 BCE to 232 BCE, commemorates the Emperor's pilgrimage to the Buddha's birthplace in Lumbini. Another one of his edict mentions several Dhamma texts, establishing the existence of a written Buddhist tradition at least by the time of the Mauryan era and which may be the precursors of the Pāli Canon. The oldest surviving Buddhist manuscripts are the Gandhāran Buddhist texts, reported to have been found in or around Haḍḍa near Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan and now preserved in the British Library. They are written in the Kharoṣṭhī script and the Gāndhārī language on twenty-seven birch bark scrolls, and they date from the first century BCE to the third century CE.