Buddhism was one of the most popular religions around the world once. Siddhartha Gautama was the person who became Buddha, meaning ‘the awakened one’, and started Buddhism. He was born in Nepal, in the Kingdom called Shakya and his father was King Suddhodana. When he was 29, he decided to find a solution to human distresses and troubles. During his meditation under the Pipal tree, he gained enlightenment and made a point that he will live a much moderate life. Thus Siddhartha became Buddha and started preaching people that everyone should follow Ahimsa in life. Desire is the main cause of sorrow, so you should live without any desire. He had this enlightenment at Bodh Gaya which is in Bihar now. Buddha had a great support from emperor Bimbisara of Maghada. Thus he was able to spread his ideologies and he had many followers. That’s how Buddhism was spread in and around India.
The Spread of Buddhism Across the World
Buddhism is actually known to be the oldest religion across the world. It was established in 500 BC in India. Buddha lived a major part of his life in India. Buddhism believes in non-violence and thus it had many followers. In 250 BC, it had followers in Sri Lanka which were introduced by Emperor Asoka’s children named Sangamitta, Charumati, and Mahendra. This was the first step of Buddhism outside of India. Burma was the next in the 3rd century where it was introduced by King Asoka. Then it got into China and Cambodia. Indonesia was the next place where Buddhism was established. Later, from China, it went to Korea in the 4th century. During the 5th century, it was spread to Japan. Thailand was amazed by and took Buddhism into their life from Burma in the 6th century. Tibet was the last to adopt Buddhism which was in the 8th century.
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Emperor Asoka of Maurya destiny was the most powerful person among rulers of his time. He had conquered almost all regions in and around India. His capital was Pataliputra. But when he won the war in Kalinga, he felt very sad by seeing the dead bodies and wounded enemies. He decided to stop all fight and converted into Buddhism. Since he was a powerful Emperor, he decided to the spread this religion around the world. Buddha never asked his followers to preach or appoint any successor to establish his beliefs. Buddha preached only orally because it was not that easy to establish his ideologies in other parts of the world. For more than 40 years, Buddha roamed around India and exercised his beliefs and thoughts in India. Buddha had many followers in India. But later, when Asoka started to expand Buddhism around the world, it got split into branches – Sthaviravada and Mahasamghika.
Buddhism was later divided into many branches. Lack of leadership in Buddhism had many issues and that leads to the spilled. Buddha inscription was written in Pali. Pali is a Prakrit language and he had many followers who used to go to many villages and towns to spread the inscriptions among people. At present there are 2 major branches of Buddhism is there in the world one is Theravada and Mahayana. Part of South East Asia and Sri Lanka is following Theravada and Himalayan and east part of Asia is following Mahayana. At present Buddhism is followed in West Bengal, Darjeeling, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Karnataka, and Ladakh in India. From the 12th century onwards, it started losing its importance when Islam intruded in India.
Buddhism in Tibet
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Tibet is the place where Buddha’s ideology is having many followers. Dalia Lama, the revered Buddhist monk of Tibet is the main person who is having many followers all over the world. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for peace also. Dr. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism later in his career because of his distasteful experiences in the younger years as a lower caste in India. Seeing this, many lower caste people decided to convert to Buddhism. According to government records, around 5 million Buddhists were there in Maharashtra at the end of the 1980s. As per the records, it shows that most of the people converted from backward class and they wanted to come out from the Hindu caste system that was prevalent in India.
Buddhism was established in India and spread all over the world. The main purpose was to spread the thoughts of Buddha who believed that desires lead humans to sorrow. Buddha said, ‘there is no one in your life you are alone, it’s better not to have any attachment to anyone. Attachments will lead you to sorrow and not to hurt anyone.’ Ahimsa was another strong message preached by Buddha. But how far that was absorbed by the followers is to be debated!