|Other names||Siddhartha Gautama, Siddhattha Gotama, Shakyamuni|
c. 563 or c. 480 BCE[note 1]
|Died||c. 483 or c. 400 BCE (aged 80)[note 1]|
|Known for||Founder of Buddhism|
|Other names||Siddhartha Gautama, Siddhattha Gotama, Shakyamuni|
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Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit/Devanagari: सिद्धार्थ गौतम Siddhārtha Gautama, c. 563/480 – c. 483/400 BCE)[note 1] or Siddhattha Gotama in Pali,[note 4] also called the Gautama Buddha,[note 5] the Shakyamuni Buddha ("Buddha, Sage of the Shakyas")[note 6] or simply the Buddha, after the title of Buddha, was a monk (śramaṇa), mendicant, sage, philosopher, teacher and religious leader on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. He is believed to have lived and taught mostly in the northeastern part of ancient India sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE.[note 7]
Gautama taught a Middle Way between sensual indulgence and the severe asceticism found in the śramaṇa movement common in his region. He later taught throughout other regions of eastern India such as Magadha and Kosala.
Gautama is the primary figure in Buddhism. He is believed by Buddhists to be an enlightened teacher who attained full Buddhahood and shared his insights to help sentient beings end rebirth and suffering. Accounts of his life, discourses and monastic rules are believed by Buddhists to have been summarised after his death and memorized by his followers. Various collections of teachings attributed to him were passed down by oral tradition and first committed to writing about 400 years later.
- 1 Historical Siddhārtha Gautama
- 2 Traditional biographies
- 3 Biography
- 4 Teachings
- 4.1 Tracing the oldest teachings
- 4.2 Influence of Brahmanism and Sramana Traditions
- 4.3 Teachings preserved in the Early Buddhist Texts
- 4.4 Scholarly Perspectives on the Earliest Buddhism
- 5 Physical characteristics
- 6 Nine virtues
- 7 Other religions
- 8 Depiction in arts and media
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
- 12 Sources
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
Historical Siddhārtha Gautama
Scholars are hesitant to make unqualified claims about the historical facts of the Buddha's life. Most people accept that the Buddha lived, taught, and founded a monastic order during the Mahajanapada era during the reign of Bimbisara (c. 558 – c. 491 BCE, or c. 400 BCE), the ruler of the Magadha empire, and died during the early years of the reign of Ajatasatru, who was the successor of Bimbisara, thus making him a younger contemporary of Mahavira, the Jain tirthankara. While the general sequence of "birth, maturity, renunciation, search, awakening and liberation, teaching, death" is widely accepted, there is less consensus on the veracity of many details contained in traditional biographies.
The times of Gautama's birth and death are uncertain. Most historians in the early 20th century dated his lifetime as c. 563 BCE to 483 BCE. More recently his death is dated later, between 411 and 400 BCE, while at a symposium on this question held in 1988, the majority of those who presented definite opinions gave dates within 20 years either side of 400 BCE for the Buddha's death.[note 7] These alternative chronologies, however, have not been accepted by all historians.[note 8]
The evidence of the early texts suggests that Siddhārtha Gautama was born into the Shakya clan, a community that was on the periphery, both geographically and culturally, of the eastern Indian subcontinent in the 5th century BCE. One of his usual names was "Sakamuni" or "Sakyamunī" ("Sage of the Shakyas"). It was either a small republic, or an oligarchy, and his father was an elected chieftain, or oligarch. According to the Buddhist tradition, Gautama was born in Lumbini, now in modern-day Nepal, and raised in the Shakya capital of Kapilvastu, which may have been either in what is present day Tilaurakot, Nepal or Piprahwa, India.[note 2] According to Buddhist tradition, he obtained his enlightenment in Bodh Gaya, gave his first sermon in Sarnath, and died in Kushinagar.
Apart from the Vedic Brahmins, the Buddha's lifetime coincided with the flourishing of influential Śramaṇa schools of thought like Ājīvika, Cārvāka, Jainism, and Ajñana. Brahmajala Sutta records sixty-two such schools of thought. In this context, a śramaṇa refers to one who labors, toils, or exerts themselves (for some higher or religious purpose). It was also the age of influential thinkers like Mahavira, Pūraṇa Kassapa, Makkhali Gosāla, Ajita Kesakambalī, Pakudha Kaccāyana, and Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta, as recorded in Samaññaphala Sutta, whose viewpoints the Buddha most certainly must have been acquainted with.[note 10] Indeed, Sariputta and Moggallāna, two of the foremost disciples of the Buddha, were formerly the foremost disciples of Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta, the sceptic; and the Pali canon frequently depicts Buddha engaging in debate with the adherents of rival schools of thought. There is also philological evidence to suggest that the two masters, Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, were indeed historical figures and they most probably taught Buddha two different forms of meditative techniques. Thus, Buddha was just one of the many śramaṇa philosophers of that time. In an era where holiness of person was judged by their level of asceticism, Buddha was a reformist within the śramaṇa movement, rather than a reactionary against Vedic Brahminism.
Historically, the life of the Buddha also coincided with the Achaemenid conquest of the Indus Valley during the rule of Darius I from about 517/516 BCE. This Achaemenid occupation of the areas of Gandhara and Sindh, which was to last for about two centuries, was accompanied by the introduction of Achaemenid religions, reformed Mazdaism or early Zoroastrianism, to which Buddhism might have in part reacted. In particular, the ideas of the Buddha may have partly consisted of a rejection of the "absolutist" or "perfectionist" ideas contained in these Achaemenid religions.
No written records about Gautama were found from his lifetime or from the one or two centuries thereafter. But from the middle of the 3rd century BCE, several Edicts of Ashoka (reigned c. 269–232 BCE) mention the Buddha, and particularly Ashoka's Lumbini pillar inscription commemorates the Emperor's pilgrimage to Lumbini as the Buddha's birthplace, calling him the Buddha Shakyamuni (Brahmi script: 𑀩𑀼𑀥 𑀲𑀓𑁆𑀬𑀫𑀼𑀦𑀻 Bu-dha Sa-kya-mu-nī, "Buddha, Sage of the Shakyas"). Another one of his edicts (Minor Rock Edict No. 3) mentions the titles of several Dhamma texts, establishing the existence of a written Buddhist tradition at least by the time of the Maurya era. These texts may be the precursor of the Pāli Canon.[note 11]
"Sakamuni" in also mentioned in the reliefs of Bharhut, dated to circa 100 BCE, in relation with his illumination and the Bodhi tree, with the inscription Bhagavato Sakamunino Bodho ("The illumination of the Blessed Sakamuni").
The oldest surviving Buddhist manuscripts are the Gandhāran Buddhist texts, reported to have been found in or around Haḍḍa near Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan and now preserved in the British Library. They are written in the Gāndhārī language using the Kharosthi script on twenty-seven birch bark manuscripts and date from the first century BCE to the third century CE.
On the basis of philological evidence, Indologist and Pali expert Oskar von Hinüber says that some of the Pali suttas have retained very archaic place-names, syntax, and historical data from close to the Buddha's lifetime, including the Mahāparinibbāṇa Sutta which contains a detailed account of the Buddha's final days. Hinüber proposes a composition date of no later than 350–320 BCE for this text, which would allow for a "true historical memory" of the events approximately 60 years prior if the Short Chronology for the Buddha's lifetime is accepted (but he also points out that such a text was originally intended more as hagiography than as an exact historical record of events).
The sources for the life of Siddhārtha Gautama are a variety of different, and sometimes conflicting, traditional biographies. These include the Buddhacarita, Lalitavistara Sūtra, Mahāvastu, and the Nidānakathā. Of these, the Buddhacarita is the earliest full biography, an epic poem written by the poet Aśvaghoṣa in the first century CE. The Lalitavistara Sūtra is the next oldest biography, a Mahāyāna/Sarvāstivāda biography dating to the 3rd century CE. The Mahāvastu from the Mahāsāṃghika Lokottaravāda tradition is another major biography, composed incrementally until perhaps the 4th century CE. The Dharmaguptaka biography of the Buddha is the most exhaustive, and is entitled the Abhiniṣkramaṇa Sūtra, and various Chinese translations of this date between the 3rd and 6th century CE. The Nidānakathā is from the Theravada tradition in Sri Lanka and was composed in the 5th century by Buddhaghoṣa.
From canonical sources come the Jataka tales, the Mahapadana Sutta (DN 14), and the Achariyabhuta Sutta (MN 123), which include selective accounts that may be older, but are not full biographies. The Jātakas retell previous lives of Gautama as a bodhisattva, and the first collection of these can be dated among the earliest Buddhist texts. The Mahāpadāna Sutta and Achariyabhuta Sutta both recount miraculous events surrounding Gautama's birth, such as the bodhisattva's descent from the Tuṣita Heaven into his mother's womb.
Nature of traditional depictions
In the earliest Buddhist texts, the nikāyas and āgamas, the Buddha is not depicted as possessing omniscience (sabbaññu) nor is he depicted as being an eternal transcendent (lokottara) being. According to Bhikkhu Analayo, ideas of the Buddha's omniscience (along with an increasing tendency to deify him and his biography) are found only later, in the Mahayana sutras and later Pali commentaries or texts such as the Mahāvastu. In the Sandaka Sutta, the Buddha's disciple Ananda outlines an argument against the claims of teachers who say they are all knowing  while in the Tevijjavacchagotta Sutta the Buddha himself states that he has never made a claim to being omniscient, instead he claimed to have the "higher knowledges" (abhijñā). The earliest biographical material from the Pali Nikayas focuses on the Buddha's life as a śramaṇa, his search for enlightenment under various teachers such as Alara Kalama and his forty-five-year career as a teacher.
Traditional biographies of Gautama generally include numerous miracles, omens, and supernatural events. The character of the Buddha in these traditional biographies is often that of a fully transcendent (Skt. lokottara) and perfected being who is unencumbered by the mundane world. In the Mahāvastu, over the course of many lives, Gautama is said to have developed supramundane abilities including: a painless birth conceived without intercourse; no need for sleep, food, medicine, or bathing, although engaging in such "in conformity with the world"; omniscience, and the ability to "suppress karma". Nevertheless, some of the more ordinary details of his life have been gathered from these traditional sources. In modern times there has been an attempt to form a secular understanding of Siddhārtha Gautama's life by omitting the traditional supernatural elements of his early biographies.
Andrew Skilton writes that the Buddha was never historically regarded by Buddhist traditions as being merely human:
It is important to stress that, despite modern Theravada teachings to the contrary (often a sop to skeptical Western pupils), he was never seen as being merely human. For instance, he is often described as having the thirty-two major and eighty minor marks or signs of a mahāpuruṣa, "superman"; the Buddha himself denied that he was either a man or a god; and in the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta he states that he could live for an aeon were he asked to do so.
The ancient Indians were generally unconcerned with chronologies, being more focused on philosophy. Buddhist texts reflect this tendency, providing a clearer picture of what Gautama may have taught than of the dates of the events in his life. These texts contain descriptions of the culture and daily life of ancient India which can be corroborated from the Jain scriptures, and make the Buddha's time the earliest period in Indian history for which significant accounts exist. British author Karen Armstrong writes that although there is very little information that can be considered historically sound, we can be reasonably confident that Siddhārtha Gautama did exist as a historical figure. Michael Carrithers goes a bit further by stating that the most general outline of "birth, maturity, renunciation, search, awakening and liberation, teaching, death" must be true.
Conception and birth
The Buddhist tradition regards Lumbini, in present-day Nepal to be the birthplace of the Buddha.[note 2] He grew up in Kapilavastu.[note 2] The exact site of ancient Kapilavastu is unknown. It may have been either Piprahwa, Uttar Pradesh, in present-day India, or Tilaurakot, in present-day Nepal. Both places belonged to the Sakya territory, and are located only 15 miles (24 km) apart.
Gautama was born to a Hindu Kshatriya family,[note 13] the son of Śuddhodana, "an elected chief of the Shakya clan", whose capital was Kapilavastu, and who were later annexed by the growing Kingdom of Kosala during the Buddha's lifetime. Gautama was the family name. His mother, Maya (Māyādevī), Suddhodana's wife, was a Koliyan princess. Legend has it that, on the night Siddhartha was conceived, Queen Maya dreamt that a white elephant with six white tusks entered her right side, and ten months later Siddhartha was born. As was the Shakya tradition, when his mother Queen Maya became pregnant, she left Kapilavastu for her father's kingdom to give birth. However, her son is said to have been born on the way, at Lumbini, in a garden beneath a sal tree.
The day of the Buddha's birth is widely celebrated in Theravada countries as Vesak. Buddha's Birthday is called Buddha Purnima in Nepal, Bangladesh, and India as he is believed to have been born on a full moon day. Various sources hold that the Buddha's mother died at his birth, a few days or seven days later. The infant was given the name Siddhartha (Pāli: Siddhattha), meaning "he who achieves his aim". During the birth celebrations, the hermit seer Asita journeyed from his mountain abode and announced that the child would either become a great king (chakravartin) or a great sadhu. By traditional account,[which?] this occurred after Siddhartha placed his feet in Asita's hair and Asita examined the birthmarks. Suddhodana held a naming ceremony on the fifth day, and invited eight Brahmin scholars to read the future. All gave a dual prediction that the baby would either become a great king or a great holy man. Kondañña, the youngest, and later to be the first arhat other than the Buddha, was reputed to be the only one who unequivocally predicted that Siddhartha would become a Buddha.
While later tradition and legend characterised Śuddhodana as a hereditary monarch, the descendant of the Suryavansha (Solar dynasty) of Ikṣvāku (Pāli: Okkāka), many scholars think that Śuddhodana was the elected chief of a tribal confederacy.
Early texts suggest that Gautama was not familiar with the dominant religious teachings of his time until he left on his religious quest, which is said to have been motivated by existential concern for the human condition. The state of the Shakya clan was not a monarchy and seems to have been structured either as an oligarchy, or as a form of republic. The more egalitarian gana-sangha form of government, as a political alternative to the strongly hierarchical kingdoms, may have influenced the development of the śramanic Jain and Buddhist sanghas, where monarchies tended toward Vedic Brahmanism.
|Birth and childhood of the Buddha|
Early life and marriage
Siddhartha was brought up by his mother's younger sister, Maha Pajapati. By tradition, he is said to have been destined by birth to the life of a prince and had three palaces (for seasonal occupation) built for him. His father, said to be King Śuddhodana, wishing for his son to be a great king, is said to have shielded him from religious teachings and from knowledge of human suffering. While Śuddhodana has traditionally been depicted as a king, and Siddhartha as his prince, more recent scholarship suggests the Shakya were in-fact organised as a semi-republican oligarchy rather than a monarchy.
When he reached the age of 16, his father reputedly arranged his marriage to a cousin of the same age named Yaśodharā (Pāli: Yasodharā). According to the early Buddhist Texts of several schools, and numerous post-canonical accounts, she gave birth to a son, named Rāhula. Siddhartha is said to have spent 29 years as a prince in Kapilavastu. Although his father ensured that Siddhartha was provided with everything he could want or need, Buddhist scriptures say that the future Buddha felt that material wealth was not life's ultimate goal.
Renunciation and ascetic life
Siddhartha Gautama continued to ponder about religious questions. At the age of 29, Gautama left his palace to meet his subjects. Despite his father's efforts to hide from him the sick, aged and suffering, Gautama is said to have seen an old man. When his charioteer Chandaka (Pali: Channa) explained to him that all people grew old, the prince went on further trips beyond the palace. On these he encountered a diseased man, a decaying corpse, and an ascetic that inspired him. Traditional accounts state that he saw these for the first time in his life. Shortly after, Gautama woke up at night and saw his female servants lying in unattractive poses, which shocked him. Therefore, he discovered what he would later understand more deeply during his enlightenment: suffering and the end of suffering. Some time later, he heard the news that a son had been born to him. Moved by all the things he had experienced, he decided to leave the palace behind in the middle of the night against the will of his father, to live the life of a wandering ascetic. Accompanied by Channa and riding his horse Kanthaka, Gautama left his palace for the life of a mendicant, leaving behind his son Rahula and Yaśodhara. He traveled to the river Anomiya with Chandaka and Kanthaka, and cut off his hair. Leaving his servant and horse behind, he journeyed into the woods and changed into monk's robes there, though in some other versions of the story, he received the robes from a brahma deity at Anomiya.
The now mendicant Gautama began his ascetic life. He went to Rajagaha (present-day Rajgir), begging for alms in the streets. After King Bimbisara's men recognised Gautama and the king learned of his quest, Bimbisara offered Gautama a share of his kingdom. Gautama rejected the offer but promised to visit the king's kingdom of Magadha first, upon attaining enlightenment.
Siddhartha Gautama left Rajagaha and practised under two teachers of yogic meditation. After mastering the teachings of the first master, Ārāḍa Kālāma (Pali: Alara Kalama), he was asked by him to succeed him. However, Gautama felt unsatisfied by the practice, and moved on to become a student of Udraka Rāmaputra (Pali: Udaka Ramaputta). With him, he achieved high levels of meditative consciousness and was again asked to succeed his teacher. But, once more, he was not satisfied and moved on.
According to the early Buddhist texts, after realising that meditative dhyana was the right path to awakening, but that extreme asceticism did not work, Gautama discovered what Buddhists know as being, the Middle Way—a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification, or the Noble Eightfold Path, as described in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, which is regarded as the first discourse of the Buddha. In a famous incident, after becoming starved and weakened, he is said to have accepted milk and rice pudding from a village girl named Sujata. Such was his emaciated appearance that she wrongly believed him to be a spirit that had granted her a wish.
Following this incident, Gautama was famously seated under a pipal tree—now known as the Bodhi tree—in Bodh Gaya, India, when he vowed never to arise until he had found the truth. Kaundinya and four other companions, believing that he had abandoned his search and become undisciplined, ceased to stay with him, and went to somewhere else. After a reputed 49 days of meditation, at the age of 35, he is said to have attained Enlightenment, and became known as the Buddha or "Awakened One" ("Buddha" is also sometimes translated as "The Enlightened One").
According to some sutras of the Pali canon, at the time of his awakening he realised complete insight into the Four Noble Truths, thereby attaining liberation from samsara, the endless cycle of rebirth, suffering and dying again. According to scholars, this story of the awakening and the stress on "liberating insight" is a later development in the Buddhist tradition, where the Buddha may have regarded the practice of dhyana as leading to nirvana and moksha.[note 14]
Nirvana is the extinguishing of the "fires" of desire, hatred, and ignorance, that keep the cycle of suffering and rebirth going. Nirvana is also regarded as the "end of the world", in that no personal identity or boundaries of the mind remain. In such a state, a being is said to possess the Ten Characteristics, belonging to every Buddha.
According to a story in the Āyācana Sutta (Samyutta Nikaya VI.1)—a scripture found in the Pāli and other canons—immediately after his awakening, the Buddha debated whether or not he should teach the Dharma to others. He was concerned that humans were so overpowered by ignorance, greed, and hatred that they could never recognise the path, which is subtle, deep and hard to grasp. However, in the story, Brahmā Sahampati convinced him, arguing that at least some will understand it. The Buddha relented and agreed to teach.
Formation of the sangha
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After his awakening, the Buddha met Taphussa and Bhallika—two merchant brothers from the city of Balkh in what is currently Afghanistan—who became his first lay disciples. It is said that each was given hairs from his head, which are now claimed to be enshrined as relics in the Shwe Dagon Temple in Rangoon, Burma. The Buddha intended to visit Asita, and his former teachers, Alara Kalama and Udaka Ramaputta, to explain his findings, but they had already died.
He then traveled to the Deer Park near Varanasi (Benares) in northern India, where he set in motion what Buddhists call the Wheel of Dharma by delivering his first sermon to the five companions with whom he had sought enlightenment. Together with him, they formed the first saṅgha: the company of Buddhist monks.
All five become arahants, and within the first two months, with the conversion of Yasa and fifty-four of his friends, the number of such arahants is said to have grown to 60. The conversion of three brothers named Kassapa followed, with their reputed 200, 300 and 500 disciples, respectively. This swelled the sangha to more than 1,000.
Travels and teaching
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For the remaining 45 years of his life, the Buddha is said to have traveled in the Gangetic Plain, in what is now Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and southern Nepal, teaching a diverse range of people: from nobles to servants, murderers such as Angulimala, and cannibals such as Alavaka. Although the Buddha's language remains unknown, it is likely that he taught in one or more of a variety of closely related Middle Indo-Aryan dialects, of which Pali may be a standardisation.
The sangha traveled through the subcontinent, expounding the dharma. This continued throughout the year, except during the four months of the Vassa rainy season when ascetics of all religions rarely traveled. One reason was that it was more difficult to do so without causing harm to animal life. At this time of year, the sangha would retreat to monasteries, public parks or forests, where people would come to them.
The first vassana was spent at Varanasi when the sangha was formed. After this, the Buddha kept a promise to travel to Rajagaha, capital of Magadha, to visit King Bimbisara. During this visit, Sariputta and Maudgalyayana were converted by Assaji, one of the first five disciples, after which they were to become the Buddha's two foremost followers. The Buddha spent the next three seasons at Veluvana Bamboo Grove monastery in Rajagaha, the capital of Magadha.
Upon hearing of his son's awakening, Suddhodana sent, over a period, ten delegations to ask him to return to Kapilavastu. On the first nine occasions, the delegates failed to deliver the message and instead joined the sangha to become arahants. The tenth delegation, led by Kaludayi, a childhood friend of Gautama's (who also became an arahant), however, delivered the message.
Now two years after his awakening, the Buddha agreed to return, and made a two-month journey by foot to Kapilavastu, teaching the dharma as he went. At his return, the royal palace prepared a midday meal, but the sangha was making an alms round in Kapilavastu. Hearing this, Suddhodana approached his son, the Buddha, saying:
Ours is the warrior lineage of Mahamassata, and not a single warrior has gone seeking alms.
The Buddha is said to have replied:
That is not the custom of your royal lineage. But it is the custom of my Buddha lineage. Several thousands of Buddhas have gone by seeking alms.
Buddhist texts say that Suddhodana invited the sangha into the palace for the meal, followed by a dharma talk. After this he is said to have become a sotapanna. During the visit, many members of the royal family joined the sangha. The Buddha's cousins Ananda and Anuruddha became two of his five chief disciples. At the age of seven, his son Rahula also joined, and became one of his ten chief disciples. His half-brother Nanda also joined and became an arahant.
Of the Buddha's disciples, Sariputta, Maudgalyayana, Mahakasyapa, Ananda and Anuruddha are believed to have been the five closest to him. His ten foremost disciples were reputedly completed by the quintet of Upali, Subhoti, Rahula, Mahakaccana and Punna.
In the fifth vassana, the Buddha was staying at Mahavana near Vesali when he heard news of the impending death of his father. He is said to have gone to Suddhodana and taught the dharma, after which his father became an arahant.
The king's death and cremation were to inspire the creation of an order of nuns. Buddhist texts record that the Buddha was reluctant to ordain women. His foster mother Maha Pajapati, for example, approached him, asking to join the sangha, but he refused. Maha Pajapati, however, was so intent on the path of awakening that she led a group of royal Sakyan and Koliyan ladies, which followed the sangha on a long journey to Rajagaha. In time, after Ananda championed their cause, the Buddha is said to have reconsidered and, five years after the formation of the sangha agreed to the ordination of women as nuns. He reasoned that males and females had an equal capacity for awakening. But he gave women additional rules (Vinaya) to follow.
According to the Mahaparinibbana Sutta of the Pali canon, at the age of 80, the Buddha announced that he would soon reach parinirvana, or the final deathless state, and abandon his earthly body. After this, the Buddha ate his last meal, which he had received as an offering from a blacksmith named Cunda. Falling violently ill, Buddha instructed his attendant Ānanda to convince Cunda that the meal eaten at his place had nothing to do with his death and that his meal would be a source of the greatest merit as it provided the last meal for a Buddha. Mettanando and von Hinüber argue that the Buddha died of mesenteric infarction, a symptom of old age, rather than food poisoning.
The precise contents of the Buddha's final meal are not clear, due to variant scriptural traditions and ambiguity over the translation of certain significant terms; the Theravada tradition generally believes that the Buddha was offered some kind of pork, while the Mahayana tradition believes that the Buddha consumed some sort of truffle or other mushroom. These may reflect the different traditional views on Buddhist vegetarianism and the precepts for monks and nuns.
Waley suggests that Theravadins would take suukaramaddava (the contents of the Buddha's last meal), which can translate literally as pig-soft, to mean "soft flesh of a pig" or "pig's soft-food", that is, after Neumann, a soft food favoured by pigs, assumed to be a truffle. He argues (also after Neumann) that as "plant names tend to be local and dialectical", as there are several plants known to have suukara- (pig) as part of their names,[note 15] and as Pali Buddhism developed in an area remote from the Buddha's death, suukaramaddava could easily have been a type of plant whose local name was unknown to those in Pali regions. Specifically, local writers writing soon after the Buddha's death knew more about their flora than Theravadin commentator Buddhaghosa who lived hundreds of years and hundreds of kilometers remote in time and space from the events described. Unaware that it may have been a local plant name and with no Theravadin prohibition against eating animal flesh, Theravadins would not have questioned the Buddha eating meat and interpreted the term accordingly.
According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha died at Kuśināra (present-day Kushinagar, India), which became a pilgrimage centre. Ananda protested the Buddha's decision to enter parinirvana in the abandoned jungles of Kuśināra of the Malla kingdom. The Buddha, however, is said to have reminded Ananda how Kushinara was a land once ruled by a righteous wheel-turning king and the appropriate place for him to die.
The Buddha then asked all the attendant Bhikkhus to clarify any doubts or questions they had and cleared them all in a way which others could not do. They had none. According to Buddhist scriptures, he then finally entered parinirvana. The Buddha's final words are reported to have been: "All composite things (Saṅkhāra) are perishable. Strive for your own liberation with diligence" (Pali: 'vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā'). His body was cremated and the relics were placed in monuments or stupas, some of which are believed to have survived until the present. For example, the Temple of the Tooth or "Dalada Maligawa" in Sri Lanka is the place where what some believe to be the relic of the right tooth of Buddha is kept at present.
According to the Pāli historical chronicles of Sri Lanka, the Dīpavaṃsa and Mahāvaṃsa, the coronation of Emperor Aśoka (Pāli: Asoka) is 218 years after the death of the Buddha. According to two textual records in Chinese (十八部論 and 部執異論), the coronation of Emperor Aśoka is 116 years after the death of the Buddha. Therefore, the time of Buddha's passing is either 486 BCE according to Theravāda record or 383 BCE according to Mahayana record. However, the actual date traditionally accepted as the date of the Buddha's death in Theravāda countries is 544 or 545 BCE, because the reign of Emperor Aśoka was traditionally reckoned to be about 60 years earlier than current estimates. In Burmese Buddhist tradition, the date of the Buddha's death is 13 May 544 BCE. whereas in Thai tradition it is 11 March 545 BCE.
At his death, the Buddha is famously believed to have told his disciples to follow no leader. Mahakasyapa was chosen by the sangha to be the chairman of the First Buddhist Council, with the two chief disciples Maudgalyayana and Sariputta having died before the Buddha.
While in the Buddha's days he was addressed by the very respected titles Buddha, Shākyamuni, Shākyasimha, Bhante and Bho, he was known after his parinirvana nirvana as Arihant, Bhagavā/Bhagavat/Bhagwān, Mahāvira, Jina/Jinendra, Sāstr, Sugata, and most popularly in scriptures as Tathāgata.
After his death, Buddha's cremation relics were divided amongst 8 royal families and his disciples; centuries later they would be enshrined by King Ashoka into 84,000 stupas. Many supernatural legends surround the history of alleged relics as they accompanied the spread of Buddhism and gave legitimacy to rulers.
Tracing the oldest teachings
One method to obtain information on the oldest core of Buddhism is to compare the oldest versions of the Pali Canon and other texts, such as the surviving portions of Sarvastivada, Mulasarvastivada, Mahisasaka, Dharmaguptaka, and the Chinese Agamas. The reliability of these sources, and the possibility of drawing out a core of oldest teachings, is a matter of dispute. According to Tilmann Vetter, inconsistencies remain, and other methods must be applied to resolve those inconsistencies.[note 16]
- "Stress on the fundamental homogeneity and substantial authenticity of at least a considerable part of the Nikayic materials."[note 17]
- "Scepticism with regard to the possibility of retrieving the doctrine of earliest Buddhism."[note 18][note 19]
- "Cautious optimism in this respect."[note 20]
Regarding their attribution to the historical Buddha Gautama "Sakyamuni", scholars such as Richard Gombrich, Akira Hirakawa, Alexander Wynne and A.K. Warder hold that these Early Buddhist Texts contain material that could possibly be traced to this figure.
Influence of Brahmanism and Sramana Traditions
According to scholars of Indology such as Richard Gombrich, the Buddha's teachings on Karma and Rebirth are a development of pre-Buddhist themes that can be found in Jain and Brahmanical sources, such as in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. Likewise, samsara, the idea that we are trapped in cycle of rebirth and that we should seek liberation from this through non-harming (ahimsa) and spiritual practices, pre-dates the Buddha and was likely taught in early Jainism.
In various texts, the Buddha is depicted as having studied under two named teachers, Āḷāra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta. According to Alexander Wynne, these were yogis who taught doctrines and practices similar to those in the Upanishads.
In the Early Buddhist Texts, the Buddha also references Brahmanical devices. For example, in Samyutta Nikaya 111, Majjhima Nikaya 92 and Vinaya i 246 of the Pali Canon, the Buddha praises the Agnihotra as the foremost sacrifice and the Gayatri mantra as the foremost meter.[note 21]
The Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence[note 22] may also reflect Upanishadic or other influences. K.R. Norman supposes that these terms were already in use at the Buddha's time, and were familiar to his listeners.
According to Johannes Bronkhorst, the "meditation without breath and reduced intake of food" which the Buddha practiced before his awakening are forms of asceticism which are similar to Jain practices.
Teachings preserved in the Early Buddhist Texts
The Early Buddhist Texts present many teachings and practices which may have been taught by the historical Buddha. These include basic doctrines such as Dependent Origination, the Middle Way, the Five Aggregates, the Three unwholesome roots, the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. According to N. Ross Reat, all of these doctrines are shared by the Theravada Pali texts and the Mahasamghika school's Śālistamba Sūtra.
A recent study by Bhikkhu Analayo concludes that the Theravada Majjhima Nikaya and Sarvastivada Madhyama Agama contain mostly the same major doctrines. Likewise, Richard Salomon has written that the doctrines found in the Gandharan Manuscripts are "consistent with non-Mahayana Buddhism, which survives today in the Theravada school of Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, but which in ancient times was represented by eighteen separate schools."
These basic teachings such as the Four Noble Truths tend to be widely accepted as basic doctrines in all major schools of Buddhism, as seen in ecumenical documents such as the Basic points unifying Theravāda and Mahāyāna.
Critique of Brahmanism
In the early Buddhist texts, the Buddha critiques the Brahmanical religion and social system on certain key points.
The Buddha also did not see the Brahmanical rites and practices as useful for spiritual advancement. For example, in the Udāna, the Buddha points out that ritual bathing does not lead to purity, only "truth and morality" lead to purity.[note 23] He especially critiqued animal sacrifice as taught in Vedas.
The Buddha also attacked the Brahmins' claims of superior birth and the idea that different castes and bloodlines were inherently pure or impure, noble or ignoble.
In the Vasettha sutta the Buddha argues that the main difference among humans is not birth but their actions and occupations. According to the Buddha, one is a "brahmin" (i.e. divine, like brahma) only to the extent that one has cultivated virtue.[note 24] Because of this the early texts report that he proclaimed: "Not by birth one is a brahman, not by birth one is a non-brahman; - by moral action one is a brahman"
The Aggañña Sutta explains all classes or varnas can be good or bad and gives a sociological explanation for how they arose, against the brahmanical idea that they are divinely ordained. According to Kancha Ilaiah, the Buddha posed the first contract theory of society. The Buddha's teaching then is a single Universal moral law, one Dharma valid for everybody, which is opposed to the Brahmanic ethic founded on “one’s own duty” (svadharma) which depends on caste. Because of this, all castes including untouchables were welcome in the Buddhist order and when someone joined, they renounced all caste affiliation.
Analysis of existence
The early Buddhist texts present the Buddha's worldview as focused on understanding the nature of dukkha, which is seen as the fundamental problem of life. Dukkha refers to all kinds of suffering, unease, frustration, and dissatisfaction that sentient beings experience. At the core of the Buddha's analysis of dukkha is the fact that everything we experience is impermanent, unstable and thus unreliable.
A common presentation of the core structure of Buddha's teaching found in the early texts is that of the Four Noble Truths. This teaching is most famously presented in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta ("The discourse on the turning of the wheel of the doctrine") and its many parallels. The basic outline of the four truths is as follows:
- There is dukkha.
- There are causes and conditions for the arising of dukkha. Various conditions are outlined in the early texts, such as craving (taṇhā), but the three most basic ones are greed, aversion and delusion.
- If the conditions for dukkha cease, dukkha also ceases. This is "Nirvana" (literally 'blowing out' or 'extinguishing').
- There is path to follow that leads to Nirvana.
According to Bhikkhu Analayo, the four truths schema appears to be based "on an analogy with Indian medical diagnosis" (with the form: "disease, pathogen, health, cure") and this comparison is "explicitly made in several early Buddhist texts".
The Buddha's analysis of existence includes an understanding that karma and rebirth are part of life. According to the Buddha, the constant cycle of dying and being reborn (i.e. saṃsāra) according to one's karma is just dukkha and the ultimate spiritual goal should be liberation from this cycle.
The Buddha's teaching of karma differed to that of the Jains and Brahmins, in that on his view, karma is primarily mental intention (as opposed to mainly physical action or ritual acts). The Buddha is reported to have said "By karma I mean intention." Richard Gombrich summarizes the Buddha's view of karma as follows: "all thoughts, words and deeds derive their moral value, positive or negative, from the intention behind them."
For the Buddha, our karmic acts also affected the rebirth process in a positive or negative way. This was seen as an impersonal natural law similar to how certain seeds produce certain plants and fruits (in fact, the result of a karmic act was called it's "fruit" by the Buddha). However, it is important to note that the Buddha did not hold that everything that happens is the result of karma alone. In fact when the Buddha was asked to state the causes of pain and pleasure he listed various physical and environmental causes alongside karma.
In the early texts, the process of the arising of dukkha is most thoroughly explained by the Buddha through the teaching of Dependent Origination. At it's most basic level, Dependent Origination is an empirical teaching on the nature of phenomena which says that nothing is experienced independently of its conditions.
The most basic formulation of Dependent Origination is given in the early texts as: 'It being thus, this comes about' (Pali: evam sati idam hoti). This can be taken to mean that certain phenomena only arise when there are other phenomena present (example: when there is craving, suffering arises), and so, one can say that their arising is "dependent" on other phenomena. In other words, nothing in experience exists without a cause.
In numerous early texts, this basic principle is expanded with a list of phenomena that are said to be conditionally dependent.[note 25] These phenomena are supposed to provide an analysis of the cycle of dukkha as experienced by sentient beings. The philosopher Mark Siderits has outlined the basic idea of the Buddha's teaching of Dependent Origination of dukkha as follows:
given the existence of a fully functioning assemblage of psycho-physical elements (the parts that make up a sentient being), ignorance concerning the three characteristics of sentient existence—suffering, impermanence and non-self—will lead, in the course of normal interactions with the environment, to appropriation (the identification of certain elements as ‘I’ and ‘mine’). This leads in turn to the formation of attachments, in the form of desire and aversion, and the strengthening of ignorance concerning the true nature of sentient existence. These ensure future rebirth, and thus future instances of old age, disease and death, in a potentially unending cycle.
The Buddha saw his analysis of Dependent Origination as a "Middle Way" between "eternalism" (sassatavada, the idea that some essence exists eternally) and "annihilationism" (ucchedavada, the idea that we go completely out of existence at death). This middle way is basically the view that, conventionally speaking, persons are just a causal series of impermanent psycho-physical elements.
Metaphysics and personal identity
Due to this view which (termed anatta), the Buddha's teaching was opposed to all soul theories of his time, including the Jain theory of a "jiva" ("life monad") and the Brahamanical theories of atman and purusha. All of these theories held that there was an eternal unchanging essence to a person which transmigrated from life to life.
While Brahminical teachers affirmed atman theories in an attempt to answer the question of what really exists ultimately, the Buddha saw this question as not being useful, as illustrated in the parable of the poisoned arrow.
For the Buddha's contemporaries, the atman was also seen to be the unchanging constant which was separate from all changing experiences and the inner controller in a person. The Buddha instead held that all things in the world of our experience are transient and that there is no unchanging part to a person. According to Richard Gombrich, the Buddha's position is simply that "everything is process". However, this anti-essentialist view still includes an understanding of continuity through rebirth, it is just the rebirth of a process (karma), not an essence like the atman.
Perhaps the most important way the Buddha analyzed individual experience in the early texts was by way of the five 'aggregates' or 'groups' (khandha) of physical and mental processes. The Buddha's arguments against an unchanging self rely on this five aggregate schema, as can be seen in the Pali Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta (and its parallels in Gandhari and Chinese).
According to the early texts, the Buddha argued that because we have no ultimate control over any of the psycho-physical processes that make up a person, there cannot be an "inner controller" with command over them. Also, since they are all impermanent, one cannot regard any of the psycho-physical processes as an unchanging self. Even mental processes such as consciousness and will (cetana) are seen as being dependently originated and impermanent and thus do not qualify as a self (atman).
As noted by Gombrich, in the early texts the Buddha teaches that all five aggregates, including consciousness (viññana, which was held by Brahmins to be eternal), arise dependent on causes. That is, existence is based on processes which are subject to dependent origination. He compared samsaric existence to a fire, which is dynamic and requires fuel (the khandas, literally: "heaps") in order to keep burning.
As Rupert Gethin explains, for the Buddha:
I am a complex flow of physical and mental phenomena, but peel away these phenomena and look behind them and one just does not find a constant self that one can call one's own. My sense of self is both logically and emotionally just a label that I impose on these physical and mental phenomena in consequence of their connectedness.
The Buddha saw the belief in a self as arising form our grasping at and identifying with the various changing phenomena, as well as from ignorance about how things really are. Furthermore the Buddha held that we experience suffering because we hold on to erroneous self views.
The Path to Liberation
Liberation from the ignorance and grasping which create suffering is not easily achieved because all beings have deeply entrenched habits that keep them trapped in the cycle of dependent origination. Because of this, the Buddha taught a path (Skt. marga) of training to undo such habits. This path taught by the Buddha is depicted in the early texts (most famously in the Pali Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta and its numerous parallel texts) as a "Middle Way" between sensual indulgence on one hand and mortification of the body on the other.
One of the most common formulations of the path to liberation in the earliest Buddhist texts is the Noble Eightfold Path.[note 26] There is also an alternative formulation with ten elements which is also very commonly taught in the early texts.
According to Gethin, another common summary of the path to awakening wisely used in the early texts is "abandoning the hindrances, practice of the four establishments of mindfulness and development of the awakening factors."
The early texts also contain many different presentations of the Buddha's path to liberation aside from the Eightfold Path. According to Rupert Gethin, in the Nikayas and Agamas, the Buddha's path is mainly presented in a cumulative and gradual "step by step" process, such as that outlined in the Samaññaphala Sutta.[note 27] Other explanations of the path are commonly presented as reversions of the process of Dependent Origination.[note 28]
Some common practices which are shared by most of these early presentations of the path include sila (ethical training), restraint of the senses (indriyasamvara), mindfulness and clear awareness (sati-sampajañña) and the practice of jhana (meditative absorption). Mental development (Citta Bhāvanā) was central to the Buddha's spiritual path as depicted in the earliest texts and this included meditative practices.
Numerous scholars such as Vetter have written on the centrality of the practice of jhana (Sanskrit: dhyāna, "Meditative Absorption") to the teaching of the Buddha. Jhana refers to deep mental states of absorption which are preceded and supported by various aspects of the path such as seclusion and sense restraint.
Another important mental training in the early texts is the practice of Mindfulness (Sati), which was mainly taught using the schemas of the "Four Ways of Mindfulness" (Satipatthana, as taught in the Pali Satipatthana Sutta and its various parallel texts) and the sixteen elements of "Mindfulness of Breath" (Anapanasati, as taught in the Anapanasati Sutta and its various parallels).
Because getting others to practice the path was the central goal of the Buddha's message, the early texts depict the Buddha as refusing to answer certain metaphysical questions which his contemporaries were preoccupied with, (such as "is the world eternal?"). This is because he did not see these questions as being useful on the path and as not being "connected to the goal".
The early Buddhist texts depict the Buddha as promoting the life of a homeless and celibate "sramana", or mendicant, as the ideal way of life for the practice of the path. He taught that mendicants were supposed to give up all possessions and to own just a begging bowl and three robes.  As part of the Buddha's monastic discipline, they were also supposed to rely on the wider lay community for the basic necessities (mainly food, clothing and lodging).
Buddhist monastics, which included both monks and nuns, were supposed to beg for their food, were not allowed to store up food or eat after noon and they were not allowed to use gold, silver or any valuables. 
Scholarly Perspectives on the Earliest Buddhism
According to Tilmann Vetter, the core of earliest Buddhism is the practice of dhyāna, as a workable alternative to painful ascetic practices.[note 29] Johannes Bronkhorst agrees that Dhyāna was a Buddhist invention,[page needed] whereas Norman notes that "the Buddha's way to release [...] was by means of meditative practices." Discriminating insight into transiency as a separate path to liberation was a later development.
A core problem in the study of early Buddhism is the relation between dhyana and insight. Schmithausen notes that the mention of the four noble truths as constituting "liberating insight", which is attained after mastering the Rupa Jhanas, is a later addition to texts such as Majjhima Nikaya 36.
According to Vetter and Bronkhorst, "liberating insight" became an essential feature of the Buddhist tradition at a later date. The Fourth Noble Truths, the Eightfold path and Dependent Origination, which are commonly seen as essential to Buddhism, are later formulations which form part of the explanatory framework of this "liberating insight".
According to the Mahāsaccakasutta,[note 30] from the fourth jhana the Buddha gained bodhi. Yet, it is not clear what he was awakened to.[page needed] According to Schmithausen and Bronkhorst, "liberating insight" is a later addition to this text, and reflects a later development and understanding in early Buddhism.[page needed]
The mentioning of the four truths as constituting "liberating insight" introduces a logical problem, since the four truths depict a linear path of practice, the knowledge of which is in itself not depicted as being liberating:
[T]hey do not teach that one is released by knowing the four noble truths, but by practicing the fourth noble truth, the eightfold path, which culminates in right samadhi.
According to Vetter, the description of the Buddhist path may initially have been as simple as the term "the middle way". In time, this short description was elaborated, resulting in the description of the eightfold path.
According to both Bronkhorst and Anderson, the four truths became a substitution for prajna, or "liberating insight", in the suttas[page needed] in those texts where "liberating insight" was preceded by the four jhanas. According to Bronkhorst, the four truths may not have been formulated in earliest Buddhism, and did not serve in earliest Buddhism as a description of "liberating insight". Gotama's teachings may have been personal, "adjusted to the need of each person."
An extensive and colourful physical description of the Buddha has been laid down in scriptures. A kshatriya by birth, he had military training in his upbringing, and by Shakyan tradition was required to pass tests to demonstrate his worthiness as a warrior in order to marry. He had a strong enough body to be noticed by one of the kings and was asked to join his army as a general. He is also believed by Buddhists to have "the 32 Signs of the Great Man".
The Brahmin Sonadanda described him as "handsome, good-looking, and pleasing to the eye, with a most beautiful complexion. He has a godlike form and countenance, he is by no means unattractive." (D, I:115)
"It is wonderful, truly marvellous, how serene is the good Gotama's appearance, how clear and radiant his complexion, just as the golden jujube in autumn is clear and radiant, just as a palm-tree fruit just loosened from the stalk is clear and radiant, just as an adornment of red gold wrought in a crucible by a skilled goldsmith, deftly beaten and laid on a yellow-cloth shines, blazes and glitters, even so, the good Gotama's senses are calmed, his complexion is clear and radiant." (A, I:181)
A disciple named Vakkali, who later became an arahant, was so obsessed by the Buddha's physical presence that the Buddha is said to have felt impelled to tell him to desist, and to have reminded him that he should know the Buddha through the Dhamma and not through physical appearances.
Although there are no extant representations of the Buddha in human form until around the 1st century CE (see Buddhist art), descriptions of the physical characteristics of fully enlightened buddhas are attributed to the Buddha in the Digha Nikaya's Lakkhaṇa Sutta (D, I:142). In addition, the Buddha's physical appearance is described by Yasodhara to their son Rahula upon the Buddha's first post-Enlightenment return to his former princely palace in the non-canonical Pali devotional hymn, Narasīha Gāthā ("The Lion of Men").
Recollection of nine virtues attributed to the Buddha is a common Buddhist meditation and devotional practice called Buddhānusmṛti. The nine virtues are also among the 40 Buddhist meditation subjects. The nine virtues of the Buddha appear throughout the Tipitaka, and include:
- Buddho – Awakened
- Sammasambuddho – Perfectly self-awakened
- Vijja-carana-sampano – Endowed with higher knowledge and ideal conduct.
- Sugato – Well-gone or Well-spoken.
- Lokavidu – Wise in the knowledge of the many worlds.
- Anuttaro Purisa-damma-sarathi – Unexcelled trainer of untrained people.
- Satthadeva-Manussanam – Teacher of gods and humans.
- Bhagavathi – The Blessed one
- Araham – Worthy of homage. An Arahant is "one with taints destroyed, who has lived the holy life, done what had to be done, laid down the burden, reached the true goal, destroyed the fetters of being, and is completely liberated through final knowledge."
Some Hindus regard Gautama as the 9th avatar of Vishnu.[note 12] However, Buddha's teachings deny the authority of the Vedas and the concepts of Brahman-Atman. Consequently Buddhism is generally classified as a nāstika school (heterodox, literally "It is not so"[note 31]) in contrast to the six orthodox schools of Hinduism.In Sikhism, Buddha is mentioned as the 23rd avatar of Vishnu in the Chaubis Avtar, a composition in Dasam Granth traditionally and historically attributed to Guru Gobind Singh.
Classical Sunni scholar Tabari reports that Buddhist idols were brought from Afghanistan to Baghdad in the ninth century. Such idols had been sold in Buddhist temples next to a mosque in Bukhara, but he does not further discuss the role of Buddha. According to the works on Buddhism by Al-Biruni (973–after 1050), views regarding the exact identity of Buddha was diverse. Accordingly some regarded him as the divine incarnate, others as an apostle of the angels or as an Ifrit and others as an apostle of God sent to human race. By 12th century, al-Shahrastani even compared Buddha to Khidr, described as an ideal human. Ibn Nadim, who was also familiar with Manichean teachings, even identifies Buddha as a prophet, who taught a religion to "banish Satan", although not mention it explicitly. However, most Classical scholars described Buddha in theistic terms, that is apart from Islamic teachings.
Nevertheless the Buddha is regarded as a prophet by the minority Ahmadiyya sect, generally considered deviant and rejected as apostate by mainstream Islam. Some early Chinese Taoist-Buddhists thought the Buddha to be a reincarnation of Laozi.
Disciples of the Cao Đài religion worship the Buddha as a major religious teacher. His image can be found in both their Holy See and on the home altar. He is revealed during communication with Divine Beings as son of their Supreme Being (God the Father) together with other major religious teachers and founders like Jesus, Laozi, and Confucius.
The Christian Saint Josaphat is based on the Buddha. The name comes from the Sanskrit Bodhisattva via Arabic Būdhasaf and Georgian Iodasaph. The only story in which St. Josaphat appears, Barlaam and Josaphat, is based on the life of the Buddha. Josaphat was included in earlier editions of the Roman Martyrology (feast day 27 November)—though not in the Roman Missal—and in the Eastern Orthodox Church liturgical calendar (26 August).
Depiction in arts and media
- Little Buddha, a 1994 film by Bernardo Bertolucci
- Prem Sanyas, a 1925 silent film, directed by Franz Osten and Himansu Rai
- Buddha, a 2013 mythological drama on Zee TV
- The Buddha 2010 PBS documentary by award-winning filmmaker David Grubin and narrated by Richard Gere
- The Light of Asia, an 1879 epic poem by Edwin Arnold
- Buddha, a manga series that ran from 1972 to 1983 by Osamu Tezuka
- Siddhartha novel by Hermann Hesse, written in German in 1922
- Lord of Light, a novel by Roger Zelazny depicts a man in a far future Earth Colony who takes on the name and teachings of the Buddha
- Creation, a 1981 novel by Gore Vidal, includes the Buddha as one of the religious figures that the main character encounters
- Karuna Nadee, a 2010 oratorio by Dinesh Subasinghe
- The Light of Asia, an 1886 oratorio by Dudley Buck
- Shussan Shaka, a Zen painting motif
- Adherents of Theravada Buddhism, especially India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. cf Sixth Buddhist Council, take these dates to be 624 – 544 BCE; in Thailand it is 623 – 543 BCE. Besides monastic acceptance of these dates, the above mentioned governments also accept these dates as shown by their issuance of commemorative stamps for the 2500 Jayanthi of Buddha's Parinibbana in 1956 and subsequent commemorative issuances for later Jayanthi celebrations.
- According to the Buddhist tradition, following the Nidanakatha, the introductory to the Jataka tales, the stories of the former lives of the Buddha, Gautama was born in Lumbini, present-day Nepal. In the mid-3rd century BCE the Emperor Ashoka determined that Lumbini was Gautama's birthplace and thus installed a pillar there with the inscription: "...this is where the Buddha, sage of the Śākyas (Śākyamuni), was born."
Based on stone inscriptions, there is also speculation that Lumbei, Kapileswar village, Odisha, at the east coast of India, was the site of ancient Lumbini. Hartmann discusses the hypothesis and states, "The inscription has generally been considered spurious (...)" He quotes Sircar: "There can hardly be any doubt that the people responsible for the Kapilesvara inscription copied it from the said facsimile not much earlier than 1928."
Kapilavastu was the place where he grew up:[note 9]
- Warder: "The Buddha [...] was born in the Sakya Republic, which was the city state of Kapilavastu, a very small state just inside the modern state boundary of Nepal against the Northern Indian frontier.
- Walshe: "He belonged to the Sakya clan dwelling on the edge of the Himalayas, his actual birthplace being a few miles north of the present-day Northern Indian border, in Nepal. His father was, in fact, an elected chief of the clan rather than the king he was later made out to be, though his title was raja—a term which only partly corresponds to our word 'king'. Some of the states of North India at that time were kingdoms and others republics, and the Sakyan republic was subject to the powerful king of neighbouring Kosala, which lay to the south".
- The exact location of ancient Kapilavastu is unknown. It may have been either Piprahwa in Uttar Pradesh, northern India, or Tilaurakot, present-day Nepal. The two cities are located only fifteen miles from each other.
- According to Mahaparinibbana Sutta, Gautama died in Kushinagar, which is located in present-day Uttar Pradesh, India.
- / - /,; Sanskrit: [sɪddʱaːɽtʰɐ ɡautɐmɐ]; Gautama namely Gotama in Pali
- / - , /,
- Sanskrit: [ɕaːkjɐmʊnɪ bʊddʱɐ]
- 411–400: Dundas 2002, p. 24: "...as is now almost universally accepted by informed Indological scholarship, a re-examination of early Buddhist historical material, [...], necessitates a redating of the Buddha's death to between 411 and 400 BCE..."
- 405: Richard Gombrich
- Around 400: See the consensus in the essays by leading scholars in Narain, Awadh Kishore, ed. (2003). The Date of the Historical Śākyamuni Buddha. New Delhi: BR Publishing. ISBN 8176463531..
- According to Pali scholar K. R. Norman, a life span for the Buddha of c. 480 to 400 BCE (and his teaching period roughly from c. 445 to 400 BCE) "fits the archaeological evidence better". See also Notes on the Dates of the Buddha Íåkyamuni.
- In 2013, archaeologist Robert Coningham found the remains of a Bodhigara, a tree shrine, dated to 550 BCE at the Maya Devi Temple, Lumbini, speculating that it may possibly be a Buddhist shrine. If so, this may push back the Buddha's birth date. Archaeologists caution that the shrine may represent pre-Buddhist tree worship, and that further research is needed.
Richard Gombrich has dismissed Coningham's speculations as "a fantasy", noting that Coningham lacks the necessary expertise on the history of early Buddhism.
Geoffrey Samuel notes that several locations of both early Buddhism and Jainism are closely related to Yaksha-worship, that several Yakshas were "converted" to Buddhism, a well-known example being Vajrapani, and that several Yaksha-shrines, where trees were worshipped, were converted into Buddhist holy places.
- Some sources mention Kapilavastu as the birthplace of the Buddha. Gethin states: "The earliest Buddhist sources state that the future Buddha was born Siddhārtha Gautama (Pali Siddhattha Gotama), the son of a local chieftain—a rājan—in Kapilavastu (Pali Kapilavatthu) what is now the Indian–Nepalese border." Gethin does not give references for this statement.
- According to Alexander Berzin, "Buddhism developed as a shramana school that accepted rebirth under the force of karma, while rejecting the existence of the type of soul that other schools asserted. In addition, the Buddha accepted as parts of the path to liberation the use of logic and reasoning, as well as ethical behavior, but not to the degree of Jain asceticism. In this way, Buddhism avoided the extremes of the previous four shramana schools."
- Minor Rock Edict Nb3: "These Dhamma texts – Extracts from the Discipline, the Noble Way of Life, the Fears to Come, the Poem on the Silent Sage, the Discourse on the Pure Life, Upatisa's Questions, and the Advice to Rahula which was spoken by the Buddha concerning false speech – these Dhamma texts, reverend sirs, I desire that all the monks and nuns may constantly listen to and remember. Likewise the laymen and laywomen."
Dhammika:"There is disagreement amongst scholars concerning which Pali suttas correspond to some of the text. Vinaya samukose: probably the Atthavasa Vagga, Anguttara Nikaya, 1:98–100. Aliya vasani: either the Ariyavasa Sutta, Anguttara Nikaya, V:29, or the Ariyavamsa Sutta, Anguttara Nikaya, II: 27–28. Anagata bhayani: probably the Anagata Sutta, Anguttara Nikaya, III:100. Muni gatha: Muni Sutta, Sutta Nipata 207–21. Upatisa pasine: Sariputta Sutta, Sutta Nipata 955–75. Laghulavade: Rahulavada Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya, I:421."
- Kumar Singh, Nagendra (1997). "Buddha as depicted in the Purāṇas". Encyclopaedia of Hinduism. 7. Anmol Publications. pp. 260–75. ISBN 978-81-7488-168-7. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
- According to Geoffrey Samuel, the Buddha was born as a Kshatriya, in a moderate Vedic culture at the central Ganges Plain area, where the shramana-traditions developed. This area had a moderate Vedic culture, where the Kshatriyas were the highest varna, in contrast to the Brahmanic ideology of Kuru–Panchala, where the Brahmins had become the highest varna. Both the Vedic culture and the shramana tradition contributed to the emergence of the so-called "Hindu-synthesis" around the start of the Common Era.
- Scholars have noted inconsistencies in the presentations of the Buddha's enlightenment, and the Buddhist path to liberation, in the oldest sutras. These inconsistencies show that the Buddhist teachings evolved, either during the lifetime of the Buddha, or thereafter. See:
* Andre Bareau (1963), Recherches sur la biographie du Buddha dans les Sutrapitaka et les Vinayapitaka anciens, Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient
* Schmithausen, On some Aspects of Descriptions or Theories of 'Liberating Insight' and 'Enlightenment' in Early Buddhism
* K.R. Norman, Four Noble Truths
* Tilman Vetter, The Ideas and Meditative Practices of Early Buddhism
* Richard F. Gombrich (2006). "4". How Buddhism Began: The Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-19639-5.
* Bronkhorst, Johannes (1993), "7", The Two Traditions Of Meditation In Ancient India, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers
* Anderson, Carol (1999), Pain and Its Ending: The Four Noble Truths in the Theravada Buddhist Canon, Routledge
- Waley notes: suukara-kanda, "pig-bulb"; suukara-paadika, "pig's foot" and sukaresh.ta "sought-out by pigs". He cites Neumann's suggestion that if a plant called "sought-out by pigs" exists then suukaramaddava can mean "pig's delight".
- Exemplary studies are the study on descriptions of "liberating insight" by Lambert Schmithausen, the overview of early Buddhism by Tilmann Vetter, the philological work on the four truths by K.R. Norman, the textual studies by Richard Gombrich, and the research on early meditation methods by Johannes Bronkhorst.
- Two well-known proponent of this position are A.K. Warder and Richard Gombrich.
* According to A.K. Warder, in his 1970 publication "Indian Buddhism},"from the oldest extant texts a common kernel can be drawn out. According to Warder, c.q. his publisher: "This kernel of doctrine is presumably common Buddhism of the period before the great schisms of the fourth and third centuries BC. It may be substantially the Buddhism of the Buddha himself, although this cannot be proved: at any rate it is a Buddhism presupposed by the schools as existing about a hundred years after the parinirvana of the Buddha, and there is no evidence to suggest that it was formulated by anyone else than the Buddha and his immediate followers".
* Richard Gombrich: "I have the greatest difficulty in accepting that the main edifice is not the work of a single genius. By "the main edifice" I mean the collections of the main body of sermons, the four Nikāyas, and of the main body of monastic rules."
- A proponent of the second position is Ronald Davidson.
- Ronald Davidson: "While most scholars agree that there was a rough body of sacred literature (disputed)(sic) that a relatively early community (disputed)(sic) maintained and transmitted, we have little confidence that much, if any, of surviving Buddhist scripture is actually the word of the historical Buddha."
- Well-known proponents of the third position are:
* J.W. de Jong: "It would be hypocritical to assert that nothing can be said about the doctrine of earliest Buddhism [...] the basic ideas of Buddhism found in the canonical writings could very well have been proclaimed by him [the Buddha], transmitted and developed by his disciples and, finally, codified in fixed formulas."
* Johannes Bronkhorst: "This position is to be preferred to (ii) for purely methodological reasons: only those who seek may find, even if no success is guaranteed."
* Donald Lopez: "The original teachings of the historical Buddha are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to recover or reconstruct."
- aggihuttamukhā yaññā sāvittī chandaso mukham. Sacrifices have the Agnihotra as foremost; of meter, the foremost is the Sāvitrī.
- Understanding of these marks helps in the development of detachment:
- “Not by water man becomes pure; people here bathe too much; in whom there is truth and morality, he is pure, he is (really) a brahman”
- "In a favourite stanza quoted several times in the Pali Canon: “The kshatriya is the best among those people who believe in lineage; but he, who is endowed with knowledge and good conduct, is the best among Gods and men”.
- One common basic list of twelve elements in the Early Buddhist Texts goes as follows: "Conditioned by (1) ignorance are (2) formations, conditioned by formations is (3) consciousness, conditioned by consciousness is (4) mind-and-body, conditioned by mind-and-body are (5) the six senses, conditioned by the six senses is (6) sense-contact, conditioned by sense-contact is (7) feeling, conditioned by feeling is (8) craving, conditioned by craving is (9) grasping, conditioned by grasping is (10) becoming, conditioned by becoming is (11) birth, conditioned by birth is (12) old-age and death-grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair come into being. Thus is the arising of this whole mass of suffering."
- right view; right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
- Gethin adds: "This schema is assumed and, in one way or another, adapted by the later manuals such as the Visuddhimagga, the Abhidharmakosa, Kamalasila's Bhavanakrama ('Stages of Meditation', eighth century) and also Chinese and later Tibetan works such as Chih-i's Mo-ho chih-kuan ('Great Calm and Insight') and Hsiu-hsi chih-kuan tso-ch'an fa-yao ('The Essentials for Sitting in Meditation and Cultivating Calm and Insight', sixth century), sGam-po-pa's Thar-pa rin-po che'i rgyan ('Jewel Ornament of Liberation', twelfth century) and Tsong-kha-pa's Lam rim chen mo ('Great Graduated Path', fourteenth century).
- As Gethin notes: "A significant ancient variation on the formula of dependent arising, having detailed the standard sequence of conditions leading to the arising of this whole mass of suffering, thus goes on to state that: Conditioned by (1) suffering, there is (2) faith, conditioned by faith, there is (3) gladness, conditioned by gladness, there is (4) joy, conditioned by joy, there is (5) tranquillity, conditioned by tranquillity, there is (6) happiness, conditioned by happiness, there is (7) concentration, conditioned by concentration, there is (8) knowledge and vision of what truly is, conditioned by knowledge and vision of what truly is, there is (9) disenchantment, conditioned by disenchantment, there is (10) dispassion, conditioned by dispassion, there is (11) freedom, conditioned by freedom, there is (12) knowledge that the defilements are destroyed."
- Vetter: "However, if we look at the last, and in my opinion the most important, component of this list [the noble eightfold path], we are still dealing with what according to me is the real content of the middle way, dhyana-meditation, at least the stages two to four, which are said to be free of contemplation and reflection. Everything preceding the eighth part, i.e. right samadhi, apparently has the function of preparing for the right samadhi."
- Majjhima Nikaya 36
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- A sketch of the Buddha's Life
- What Was The Buddha Like? by Ven S. Dhammika
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