by Madi McShan, Andrea Morlett, and Varshni Muralidharan

Origin and Classification of Buddhism

  • found in Northern India in the 5th century B.C.E.
  • founded by Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha)
  • Universalizing religion
  • Buddha is known as the awakened and enlightened teacher
  • Buddha was once Prince of India, then once he experienced suffering, he came up with the Four Noble Truths and began teaching to everyone

Beliefs of Buddhism

  • Buddha created and taught the Four Noble Truths
  • Four Noble Truths are now used as a way to live one's life

  1. Dukkha- the realization of suffering
  2. Samudāya- the origin of suffering
  3. Nirodha- realization there is a cure for suffering
  4. Magga- the way to release suffering

Branches of Buddhism

There are three main branches of Buddhism:

  • Theravada, "Doctrine of the Elders"
  • Mahayana, "Great Vehicle"
  • Vajrayana, or Tibetan Buddhism, "Diamond Vehicle"

How it Diffused

  • Buddha’s teaching spread by word of mouth throughout Asia
  • Schools were formed and each practiced Buddhism many different traditions
  • Buddhism diffused from its hearth in north India to Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Indo-China and other South East Asian countries
  • Moved northwards into the Himalayan kingdoms, Tibet, Mongolia and other parts of Central Asia, and also into China, Korea and Japan

Distribution of Buddhism

  • Mostly practiced in East Asia, South East Asia and some parts of South Asia
  • Most practiced countries are Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Lanka, Tibet, Bhutan, China, Korea, and Japan

Holy Places

  • Lumbini: The birth place of Buddha where he lived until the age of 29. Located there is the Mayadevi temple built in the exact spot of his birth

  • Pushkarini or Holy Pond, where his mother bathed before giving birth to him
  • The remains of Kapilvastu palace, his home were also located here
  • Bodhgaya: where Buddha came to find enlightenment in Bijar India
  • Sarnath: Where Buddha shared his beliefs and practices
  • Kushinagar: The site where of Buddha's death, located in Uttar Pradesh, India

Number of followers

  • About 350 million followers are estimated to practice Buddhism around the world
  • An exact number has not been reached, due to the fact of the rapid increase of the religion and gaining new members

Unique Features

Key Figures and Important People

  • Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as Buddha.
  • The Dalai Lama is the religious leader of Tibetan Buddhism.

Picture- The 14th Dalai Lama stands in front of an idol of Buddha.

Holy Texts

Tripitaka (means three baskets) is composed of the main scriptures of Buddhism. It is composed of the Vinaya Pitaka, Sutra Pitaka, and the Abidharma Pitaka.

      • Vinaya Pitaka (Discipline Basket)- talks about rules and regulations for nuns and monks
      • Sutra Pitaka (Discourse Basket)- made up of the teachings of Buddha and the behavioral rules that all Buddhists must follow.
      • Abidharma Pitaka (Special Teachings)- contains an array of literary pieces written about the life of Gautam Buddha.

Religious Symbols

  • Dharmachakra- The Eight-Spoked Dharma Wheel (Wheel of Law)
  • The lotus represents the blossoming of enlightenment out of the muddy world of materialism

Place of Worship

  • Buddhists worship in a religious structure called a vihara (also known as a temple)

Buddhist Family Structure

  • Taught to treat their family with love and compassion
  • Regard family as the center of society
  • Believe that society will not flourish without a strong bond within families

Cultural Beliefs and Expectations

Buddhists follow the Five Precepts of Harmlessness

1. To abstain from taking the lives of living beings.

2. To abstain from taking that which is not given.

3. To abstain from sexual misconduct.

4. To abstain from telling falsehoods.

5. To abstain from distilled and fermented intoxicants, which are the occasion for carelessness(which also includes drugs).

Essential Question

How did the teachings and practices of Buddha affect the diffusion of Buddhism?


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