Buddhism History


  • The founder of Buddhism was Gautam Buddha, was born as Siddhartha. 
  • Siddhartha was born in 566 BC at Lumbini (now falls in territory of Nepal) in the Sakya clan of Kshatriya. That is why Buddha is also known as Sakyamuni.
  • The name of his father was 'Sidhdhodhana', the Ruler of Kshatriyas. He was the only son of his father.
  • The mother of Siddhartha was ‘Mahamaya’ who died after giving birth to him. Thereafter, he was brought up by ‘Prajapati Gautami’ his maternal aunt. Therefore, he was also called Gautam.
  • Siddharta married his cousin Yashodhara and had a son Rahul.
  • After seeing an old man, a sick man, a corpse and an ascetic, he decided to become a wanderer.

Buddhist Councils:

There were four councils/Sangeethis of Buddhism organised under different regimes:

First Council:

  • It was held under the patronage of Ajatshatru (Haryanka Dynasty) in 486BC. •
  • Monk Mahakassapa Upali presided over the first council.
  • It was held at Sattapani caves in RajGriha just after the death of Buddha. 
  • Compilation of VinayPitaka and SuttaPitaka was accomplished here.

Second Council

  • In 383 BC. under the patronage of Kalashoka (Shishunaga Dynasty).
  • It was held at Vaishali after one century of Buddha’s death(parinirvana).
  • The second council was presided over by Sarvakamini.
  • First division in Sangha took place. Theravedin and Mahasanghika split up here. 

Third Council:

  • In 250 BC under the patronage of King Ashoka.
  • It was held at Pataliputra •
  • It was presided by Mogaliputta Tissa.
  • Compilation of Abhidham Pitaka was done. 

Fourth Council

  • In the 1st century AD, under patronage of King Kanishka (Kushan dynasty).
  • It was held in Kundalvana of Kashmir.
  • Under the presidency of Vasumitra along with Asvaghosha.
  • Buddhism was divided into two sects namely, Hinayana and Mahayana.

Buddhist Philosophy:

  • The Buddhist philosophy is based on Madhyama marga or the middle path. 
  • According to madhyam marga philosophy, both the extremes of the world- indulgence and strict abstinence both are avoided and a middle path between them is followed.
  • The main teachings of Buddha are summerised in four noble truths (Arya satya) of Buddhism:
    i. The world is full of sorrow (Dukkha)
    ii. Desire is the cause of sorrow (Dukha samudya)
    iii. If desire is conquered all sorrow is won over (Dukha nirodha)
    iv. Desire can be conquered by following eight fold paths (Ashtangirka Marg)
  • To conquer the desire, Eight Fold Path has to be followed:
    i.     Samyak Drist: Right Understanding
    ii.    Samyak Sankalpa: Right Resolve
    iii.   Samyak Vani: Right Speech
    iv.   Samyak Karma: Right Action
    v.    Samyak Ajiv: Right Living
    vi.   Samyak Vyayam: Right Efforts
    vii.  Samyak Smriti: Right Mindfulness/thought
    viii. Samyak Samadhi: Right Self-Concentration
  • There are three base Pillars known as Tri-ratnas in Buddhism: Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha.
  • Buddha means the highest spiritual potential in every human being.
  • Dhamma refers to the teachings of Buddha.
  • Sangha is the organization of the monks practicing Buddhism.