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Buddhism

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The social-religious norms that were well followed were criticized by the then great scholars like Zoroaster in Iran and Confucius in China in the 6th century BC.

They emphasized ethical and moral values. Two alternate religions, Buddhism and Jainism emerged in India also. Both these religions believed in good social conduct, charity, nonviolence and generosity. They emphasized that true happiness does not lie in materialism. There is no need to perform rituals.

Buddhism is an important topic for the civil service exam and an integral part of the History syllabus.

Buddhism was divided into two sects: Mahayana and Hinayana upon the death of Gautam Buddha in 400 BC.

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Mahayana sect

It means ‘Great Vehicle’ in Sanskrit and believed in the divinity of the Gautam Buddha act which encouraged idol worship in Buddhism.

Hinayana Sect

It means ‘Small Vehicle’ in Sanskrit and it did not believe in the divinity of the Buddha but stressed individual salvation through meditation and self-discipline.

Mahayana

  • Mahayana followers consider Gautam Buddha to be a divine being; they believe that Buddha will help his followers to attend Nirvana.
  • The followers of Mahayana can be found in China, Japan, Korea and Tibet.
  • Descriptions of Mahayana Buddhism were written in Sanskrit
  • There are three bodies of a Buddha as per Mahayana Buddhism

-Nirmanakaya

-Sambhogakaya

-Dharmakaya

  • There are ten-far reaching attitudes in Mahayana
  1. Self-discipline
  2. Generosity
  3. Patience
  4. Mental stability
  5. Perseverance
  6. Wisdom
  7. Aspirational Prayers
  8. Skills in Means
  9. Deep Awareness
  10. Strengthening
  • Mahayana Buddhism started to flourish around 500 BC.
  • In measurable joy is the wish that others have the joy of unending enlightenment in Mahayana Buddhism

Hinayana

  • Hinayana Buddhists consider Gautam Buddha as an ordinary person who attained Nirvana. Hinayana Buddhism is followed in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.
  • The Scriptures of Hinayana Buddhism are available in Pali and they don’t believe in the three bodies of a Buddha as they believe an individual must find his own path to salvation.
  • These are ten-far reaching attitudes in Hinayana Buddhism.
  1. Patience
  2. Self Discipline
  3. Generosity
  4. Being True to one’s words
  5. Perseverance
  6. Wisdom
  7. Resolution
  8. Renunciation
  9. Equanimity
  10. Love
  • Immeasurable joy means rejoicing in the happiness of others in Hinayana Buddhism. Don’t get jealous and accept anything in return.
  • Hinayana Buddhism began to flourish around 250 BC.

Doctrines of Buddhism

The core of Buddha’s doctrine is articulated in the Ariya-Sacchani, Ashtangika Marg, Middle Path, Social Code of Conduct and attainment of Nirvana.

Gautam Buddh says that one should not clutch to anything, even his teachings. He asked that teachings are only Upaya or skilful means but not dogma. It is fingers pointing at the moon but you should not confuse the finger for the moon.

Three main pillars of Buddhism are

  1. Buddha- Teacher or Founder
  2. Dhamma- Teaching
  3. Sangha- Order of Buddhist Monks and Nuns

Four noble truths

Suffering (Dukha)

Everything is suffering and the reason for suffering is desire according to Buddhism. It does not only mention actual pain and sorrow faced by an individual but also the potential to experience pain.

Samuday

Desire or Trishna is the main reason for suffering and every suffering has a reason.  However, it is a part and parcel of living

Nirodh

The suffering can be ended by the achievement of Nirvana.

Ashtangika- Marg

Ashtangika Marg is the truth of the path leading to the end of suffering.

The end to suffering consisted in the eightfold path or Ashtangika Marg.

Bodhisattva

Bodhisattva means a person who intends to become a Buddh in Sanskrit. in other words the individual who is on the path to becoming Buddha or attending salvation is known as Bodhisattva.

Bodhisattva is one of the 10 realms whose teachings are included in Buddhism. These are very important from the perspective of the UPSC exam.

Gautam Buddh referred to himself as a Bodhisattva during all his incarnations as per Theravada. When he had got complete enlightenment he claimed himself as Buddha.

A being who is on the path to enlightenment is a Bodhisattva and attains the title of Buddha only after complete enlightenment.

Mahayana Buddhism defines Bodhisattva as ‘any being who intends to achieve enlightenment and Buddhahood’.

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