Gautama Buddha (563 BC - 483 BC),
founded Buddhism, one of the greatest religions of the world. He was a
contemporary of Mahavira. He was born in a Kshatriya family in
Kapilvastu, in the foothills of Nepal. His father, who feared a
prophecy, according to which his only son would renounce the world, kept
him in a little Garden of Eden, surrounded by luxury & beauty.
From then on, he became known as the
Buddha. He passed away at the age of eighty at Kusinagara in eastern
Uttar Pradesh. Buddha discarded Vedic religion in its totality. He
strongly opposed rituals, sacrifices and ceremonial worship. He
condemned the caste system as being false and wrong. Like Jainism, it
was also atheistic in nature. The existence of God is irrelevant to the
Buddhist doctrine. Buddha laid emphasis on self-effort and nothing was
left to divine intervention. He also believed that the soul does not
exist. The attainment of Nirvana (Salvation) is the chief objective of
The universal appeal of Buddha's message
captured the imagination of the intellectuals and the common man alike.
And Buddhism spread like a breath of fresh wind from the mountains. It
won the patronage of many states like Magadha, Kosala and Kausambi.
Great kings like Ashoka and Kanishka were great patrons of Buddhism.
Ashoka' son, Mahendra preached Buddhism in Ceylon and the king of Ceylon
It was at the fourth council, held in Kashmir in the early second century AD, that the schism in Buddhism was recognised. One branch was called Hinayana and the other, Mahayana. Eventually, Hinayana Buddhism found its stronghold in Ceylon, Burma and the countries of south-east Asia, whereas Mahayana Buddhism became the dominant sect in India, central Asia, Tibet, China and Japan.