Find out what happened to Buddhism after the Buddha and how it emerged as a significant religion of the world.
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Buddhism After Buddha

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Buddhism is a philosophy based on the teachings of Lord Buddha(563 BCE-483 BCE), who was born as Siddhartha Gautama, a Shakya prince in Lumbini, Nepal. The teachings preached by Lord Buddha subsequently turned into a religion, known as Buddhism.
The core of Buddhism lies in the purification of mind and soul by realising the truth and getting rid of the worldly desires. Basically, it were the principles of Karma in the doctrine of Buddhism that made the religion one of the major ones in the world.


Buddhism After The Buddha - The role of Ashoka
It was after the Buddha's death that the school of Buddhism spread slowly in India and then subsequently, throughout the world. However, it was at the time of the the Indian emperor Ashoka that Buddhism took a pace to reach its height. After the tragic Kalinga war, Ashoka decided to follow the path of non-violence or 'ahimsa' and converted to Buddhism. He promoted the doctrines of Buddhism not only in his empire as Dhamma but in other regions as well. It was his promotional campaign that led to the construction of the Buddhist religious monasteries and stupas, which further facilitated the spread of Buddhism in countries like Sri Lanka, Tibet, China and Japan.


The Buddhist Councils And The Rise Of The Buddhist Sects

Other Schools
It was due to the patronage provided by the rulers to Buddhism, that it was gaining popularity not only in India, but in the other places as well. The merchants, monks and pilgrims further took the wave of Buddhism as far as Arabia to the west and eastward to the southeast Asia.

Mahayana Buddhism, which was spreading its root in other regions after the Indian subcontinent, established a major regional centre in Gandhar(Modern Afghanistan), from where it further spread to Japan, China, Korea and Mongolia. Bodhidharma, a Mahayana Buddhist, travelled to China from India in 475 CE and established the Chan school of Buddhism in China, which when further went to Japan, came to be known as Zen.

Another school of Buddhism, Tantaryana or Vajrayana developed in Eastern India (present Bengal and Orissa) and flourished during the period of Buddhism's decline in India from 8th to 13th century CE. This new school though was considered to be a sub sect of the Mahayana school, but believed in different way and practices. The Tantrayana Buddhism even today facilitates an accelerated path to enlightenment to be achieved through the use of tantra techniques, which are practical aids to spiritual development and esoteric transmission. The new thought first got spread in Tibet, Bhutan, southwest China and Mongolia by the Indian teachers, then later moved further towards Japan (Known as Shingon Buddhism) and Kalmykia, the only Buddhist state of Europe.


Buddhist Scriptures
The first disciple of Buddha, Ananda wrote down Bbuddha's thoughts and sermons (From first one at Banaras to the last one at Kushinagar) after His death. These texts, known as Tripitaka or the Three baskets became the main Buddhist scriptures. Later the Mahayanas added the 'Lotus Sutra' and the 'Perfection of wisdom', 'Lankavatara' and many others to the Buddhist scriptures. Similarly, the Tantrayanas also compiled the holy scriptures of the 'Kanjur'(108 volumes), and the 'Tanjur'(225 volumes). Besides, the writings of the 6 Buddhist Councils are also considered as the Buddhist holy scriptures, which consists of 400 volumes.

Today, Buddhism is practiced widely in nations of the far east and few of the south Asian countries, whereas it has almost disappeared from India - the country of its origin. It was in the 7th-8th century CE that Buddhism began to decline in India, owing to the revival of Hinduism and Bhakti movement, and by the time of the Turkish invasion of India in 12th century CE, the wave of Buddhism had stayed calm due to the arrival of Islam in India. But, despite these challenges, Buddhism managed to sail through in other parts of the world, and still survives in some parts of India, its birthplace.


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Statue of Lord Buddha
Statue of Lord Buddha
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