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About Buddhism

What is Buddhism

Buddhism is a world religion, which arose in and around ancient Kingdom of Magadha (now in Bihar, India), and is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama (born as a prince of the ancient Kapilavastu kingdom now in Lumbini of Nepal), who has the Indian Sanskrit name "Siddhārtha Gautama" and the Indian pali name Siddhattha Gotama Buddha (literally the Enlightened One or Awakened One).

It spread outside of Magadha starting in the Buddha's lifetime, and with the reign of the Buddhist Mauryan Emperor Asoka, spread across Nepal straight down to China and all the way to Japan and became one of the dominant religions in these parts of Asia. Followers of Buddhism, called Buddhists in English, referred to themselves as Saugata.

Another terms were Sakyans or Sakyabhiksu in ancient India. Sakyaputto was another term used by Buddhists, as well as Ariyasavako and Jinaputto. Buddhist scholar Donald S. Lopez asserts they also used the term Bauddha, although scholar Richard Cohen asserts that that term was used only by outsiders to describe Buddhists. Buddhism has spread outside of India through two main traditions;

Theravada which extended south and east and now has widespread following in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka, and Mahayana, which diffused first west, then north and later east throughout East Asia. Both traditions have since spread throughout the world, mainly in North America and Europe. The practice of Buddhism as a distinct and organized religion declined from the land of its origin in around 13th century, but not without leaving a significant impact.

Hindus continued to absorb Buddhist practices and teachings, such as Ahimsa and the renunciation of the material world. Buddhist practice is most common in Himalayan areas like Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. Buddhism has been reemerging in India since the past century, due to its adoption by many Indian intellectuals, the migration of Buddhist Tibetan exiles, and the mass conversion of hundreds of thousands of Hindu Dalits.

After asceticism and meditation which was a Vedic practice, he discovered the Buddhist Middle Way—a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification. Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment sitting under a pipal tree, now known as the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India.

Gautama, from then on, was known as "The Perfectly Self-Awakened One," the Samyaksambuddha. Buddha found patronage in the ruler of Magadha, emperor Bimbisara. The emperor accepted Buddhism as personal faith and allowed the establishment of many Buddhist "Viharas."

This eventually led to the renaming of the entire region as Bihar. At the Deer Park Water Reservation near Vārāṇasī in northern India, Buddha set in motion the Wheel of Dharma by delivering his first sermon to the group of five companions with whom he had previously sought enlightenment.

They, together with the Buddha, formed the first Saṅgha, the company of Buddhist monks, and hence, the first formation of Triple Gem (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha) was completed. For the remaining years of his life, the Buddha is said to have traveled in the Gangetic Plain of Northeastern India and other regions. Buddha attained Parinirvana in the abandoned jungles of Kuśināra.

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