Licchavi Lyceum


Licchavi Lyceum


Buddhism is a Religion and Philosophy with a Rich Cultural Heritage.

With its focus on compassion, mindfulness, and the attainment of inner peace, Buddhism offers a unique approach to spirituality that has resonated with people from all walks of life.

What is Buddhism?

Buddhism is a religion and philosophy that was founded in ancient India by the Buddha, or “Enlightened One.” The Buddha taught that the path to enlightenment and liberation from suffering is through the practice of meditation, mindfulness, and the cultivation of virtuous conduct. Buddhism is based on the Four Noble Truths, which state that suffering is an inherent part of existence, that suffering arises from craving and attachment, that it is possible to end suffering, and that the path to the end of suffering is the Eightfold Path.

History of Buddhism

The history of Buddhism begins with the life and teachings of the Buddha, who lived in ancient India in the 5th century BCE. After his enlightenment, the Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching and spreading his message of compassion and wisdom. Over the centuries, Buddhism has spread and evolved, taking on different forms in different countries and cultures. Today, Buddhism is one of the world’s major religions, with millions of followers in countries such as India, China, Japan, and Thailand.

Key Beliefs and Practices of Buddhism

Here are some of the key beliefs and practices of Buddhism:

  • The Four Noble Truths: Buddhism is based on the Four Noble Truths, which state that suffering is an inherent part of existence, that suffering arises from craving and attachment, that it is possible to end suffering, and that the path to the end of suffering is the Eightfold Path.
  • The Eightfold Path: The Eightfold Path is the path to the end of suffering and the attainment of enlightenment. It consists of right understanding, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
  • Meditation: Meditation is a central practice in Buddhism, and is seen as a means of developing mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom.
  • Mindfulness: Buddhism places a strong emphasis on mindfulness, which is the practice of being present and aware in the moment.
  • Compassion: Buddhism teaches that all beings are interconnected, and that the ultimate goal of the spiritual path is to cultivate compassion and wisdom for the benefit of all.

Life of Gautama Buddha

Gautama or Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism, was born in 567 B.C. in Lumbini Garden near Kapilavastu. His father was Suddodhana of the Sakya clan and mother Mayadevi. As his mother died at child birth, he was brought up by his aunt Prajapati Gautami.

At the age of sixteen he married Yasodhara who gave birth to a son, Rahula. The sight of an old man, a diseased man, a corpse and an ascetic turned him away from worldly life. He left home at the age of twenty nine in search of Truth. He wandered for seven years and met several teachers but could not get enlightenment.

At last, he sat under a Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya and did intense penance, after which he got Enlightenment (Nirvana) at the age of thirty five. Since then he became known as the Buddha or ‘the Enlightened One’. He delivered his first sermon at Sarnath near Benares and for the next forty five years he led the life of a preacher. He died at the age of eighty at Kushinagara.

The most important disciples of Buddha were Sariputta, Moggallanna, Ananda, Kassapa and Upali.

Teachings of Buddha

The Four Noble Truths of Buddha are:

  • The world is full of suffering.
  • The cause of suffering is desire.
  • If desires are get rid of suffering can be removed.
  • This can be done by following the Eightfold Path.

The Eightfold Path consists of right view, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, and right mindfulness and right concentration.

Buddha neither accepts god nor rejects the existence of god (Middle path unlike extreme of Mahavira). He laid great emphasis on the law of karma. He argued that the condition of man in this life depends upon his own deeds. He taught that the soul does not exist. However, he emphasized Ahimsa.

By his love for human beings and all living creatures, he endeared himself to all. Even under the gravest provocation he did not show the least anger or hatred and instead conquered everyone by his love and compassion.

His religion was identical with morality and it emphasized purity of thought, word and deed. He was a rationalist who tried to explain things in the light of reason and not on the basis of blind faith.

Though he did not make a direct attack on the caste system, he was against any social distinctions and threw open his order to all. Therefore, Buddhism was more a social than religious revolution. It taught the code of practical ethics and laid down the principle of social equality.

Spread of Buddhism Buddha had two kinds of disciples – monks (bhikshus) and lay worshippers (upasikas).

The monks were organized into the Sangha for the purpose of spreading his teachings. The membership was open to all persons, male or female and without any caste restrictions.

There was a special code for nuns restricting their residence and movement. Sariputta, Moggallana and Ananda were some of the famous monks. The Sangha was governed on democratic lines and was empowered to enforce discipline among its members. Owing to the organised efforts made by the Sangha, Buddhism made rapid progress in North India even during Buddha’s life time. Magadha, Kosala, Kausambi and several republican states of North India embraced this religion. About two hundred years after the death of Buddha, the famous Mauryan Emperor Asoka embraced Buddhism. Through his missionary effort Asoka spread Buddhism into West Asia and Ceylon. Thus, a local religious sect was transformed into a world religion.


Buddhist Councils: There were four Buddhist councils organised.

First Buddhist Council: Soon after death of Buddha in 400 BC. Rajgir, Ajatshatru.

Second Buddhist Council: Held in 385 BC, The purpose was to set the code of discipline (Pitaka of discipline), Held at Vaishali by KalaAshoka.

Third Buddhist council: Under Ashoka, in Pataliputra. 250 BC.

Fourth Buddhist Council: Held in Kashmir under Kanishka. Buddhism was divided in two sects Mahayana and Hinayana. 72 AD.


The Buddhism preached by the Buddha and propagated by Asoka was known as Hinayana.


Tripitakas: The Buddhist texts were collected and compiled some five hundred years after the death of the Buddha. They are known as the Tripitakas, namely the Sutta, the Vinaya and the Abhidhamma Pitakas. They are written in the Pali language.


The rules made for the Buddhist Sangha were written down in a book called the Vinaya Pitaka.


Vinaya Pitaka contains the monastic rules of the Order of Buddhist monks.


Sutta Pitaka is the collection of the speeches and dialogues of the Buddha.


Abhidhamma Pitaka elucidates the various topics dealing with ethics, psychology or theory of knowledge.


All men could join the Sangha. However, children had to take the permission of their parents and slaves that of their masters. Those who worked for the king had to take his permission and debtors that of creditors. Women had to take their husbands’ permission.


Men and women who joined the Sangha led simple lives. They meditated for most of the time, and went to cities and villages to beg for food during fixed hours. That is why they were known as bhikshus (the Prakrit word for beggar).


They taught others, and helped one another. They also held meetings to settle any quarrels that took place within the Sangha.


Other Concepts related to Buddhism –

  1. Pariniravana – In Buddhism, Pariniravana is the final nirvana, which occurs upon the death of the body of someone who has attained complete awakening (bodhi). Pariniravana of Buddha is called Mahaparinirvana.


  1. Therigatha – It is a part of Buddhist literature that was compiled by Buddhist nuns.


III. Pavarna – It is a ceremony of Buddhists during which monks confess the offences committed by them during their stay at monetary.


  1. The Sangha – Both the Mahavira and the Buddha felt that only those who left their homes could gain true knowledge. They arranged for them to stay together in the Sangha, an association of those who left their home. Men and women who joined the Sangha led simple lives.


Madhyamaka School – It was founded by Acharya Nagarjuna who was an important Buddhist teacher and philosopher belonging to Satvahana kingdom. Along with his disciple Aryadeva, he is credited with founding the Madhyamaka school of Mahayana Buddhism.


Causes for the Decline of Buddhism in India: The revival of Brahmanism and the rise of Bhagavatism led to the fall of popularity of Buddhism. The use of Pali, the language of the masses as the language of Buddhism was given up from the 1st century A.D.


The Buddhists began to adopt Sanskrit, the language of the elite. After the birth of Mahayana Buddhism, the practice of idol worship and making offerings led to the deterioration of moral standards.


Moreover, the attack of the Huns in 5th and 6th centuries and the Turkish invaders in 12th century destroyed the monasteries. All these factors contributed to the decline of Buddhism in India.


Mahayana: By the first century CE, there is evidence of changes in Buddhist ideas and practices.


The worship of images of the Buddha and Bodhisattas became an important part of this tradition. This new way of thinking was called Mahayana – literally, the “great vehicle”.


Those who adopted these beliefs described the older tradition as Hinayana or the “lesser vehicle”.


Contribution of Buddhism to Indian Culture: The concept of ahimsa was its chief contribution. Later, it became one of the cherished values of our nation.


Its contribution to the art and architecture of India was notable. The stupas at Sanchi, Bharhut and Gaya are wonderful pieces of architecture.


Buddhism takes the credit for the chaityas and viharas in different parts of India.


Key Points:

  1. It promoted education through residential universities like those at Taxila, Nalanda and Vikramasila.
  2. The language of Pali and other local languages developed through the teachings of Buddhism.
  3. It had also promoted the spread of Indian culture to other parts of Asia.


The Buddhist literature Anguttara Nikaya gives a list of sixteen great kingdoms called ‘Sixteen Mahajanapadas’.

In conclusion, Buddhism is a rich and vibrant religious and philosophical tradition that has had a profound impact on the world. With its focus on compassion, mindfulness, and the attainment of inner peace, Buddhism offers a unique and valuable approach to spirituality that continues to inspire and influence people from all walks of life. Whether you are a practicing Buddhist or simply interested in learning more about this fascinating tradition, Buddhism is definitely worth exploring.