History of Buddhism in India

Buddhism in India

  • Buddha was born in 563 BC on the Vaishakha Poornima Day at Lumbini (near Kapilavastu) in Nepal.
  • His father Suddhodana was the Saka ruler.
  • His mother (Mahamaya, of the Kosala dynasty) died after 7 days of his birth. Brought up by stepmother Gautami.
  • Married at 16 to Yashodhara. Enjoyed married life for 13 years & had a son named Rahula.
  • Left his palace at 29 (with Channa, the charioteer & his favorite horse, Kanthaka) in search of truth (also called ‘Mahabhinishkramana’ or The Great Renunciation) & wandered for 6 years.
  • Attained ‘Nirvana’ or ‘Enlightenment’ at 35 at Gaya in
  • Magadha (Bihar) under the Pipal tree.
  • Delivered the first sermon at Sarnath where his five disciples had settled. His first sermon is called ‘Dharmachakrapravartan’ or ‘Turning of the Wheel of Law’.
  • Attained Mahaparinirvana at Kushinagar (identical with village Kasia in Deoria district of UP) in 483 BC at the age of 80 in the Malla republic.

Buddhist Councils:

The monks gathered 4 times after the death of Buddha & the effect of these events had their effect on Buddhism.

First Council: At Rajgriha, in 483 BC under the chairmanship of Mehakassaapa (King was Ajatshatru). Divided the teachings of Buddha into two Pitakas – Vihaya Pitaka & Sutta Pitaka. Upali recited the Vinaya Pitaka & Ananda recited the Sutta Pitaka.

Second Council: At Vaishali, in 383 BC under Sabakami (King was Kalasoka). Followers divided into Sthavirmadins & Mahasanghikas.

Third Council: At Pataliputra, in 250 BC under Mogaliputta Tissa (King was Ashoka). In this, the third part of the Tripitaka was coded in the Pali language.

Fourth Council: At Kashmir (Kundalvan), in 72 AD under Vasumitra (King was Kanishka). Vice-Chairman was Ashwaghosha). Divided Buddhism into Mahayana & Hinayana sects.

Buddist Literature:

  • Buddhist scriptures in Pali are commonly referred to as Tripitakas, i.e. ‘Threefold Basket’.
  • Vinaya Pitaka: Rules of discipline in Buddhist monasteries.
  • Sutta Pitaka: Largest, contains a collection of Buddha’s sermons.
  • Abhidhamma Pitaka: Explanation of the philosophical principles of the Buddhist religion.

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