• Buddhism was founded by Gautam Buddha.
  • Gautam Buddha was born in 563 BC in Sakya clan at Lumbini (now in Nepal), Kapilvastu.
  • His father was Suddhodhana, the ruler of Kapilavastu.
  • His mother was Mahamaya, a princess from the Kosala dynasty.
  • Mahamaya died after seven days of Buddha’s birth and Buddha was brought up by his aunt Goutami.
  • Siddhartha (Buddha’s original name) got married to Yasodhara and had a son from her named Rahul.
  • After seeing an aged man, then a sick man, and then a corpse being carried to the cremation ground, he decided to leave all wordly pleasures.
  • One night, accompanying Channa (charioteer) and his favourite horse Kanthaka, he left his home at the time when he was 29 years old. Thus Siddhartha performed his “Great Going Forth” (Mahabhiniskramana) and became a wandering ascetic, owning nothing but the robe he wore.
  • Alara Kalama was the first to teach Gautam Buddha the technique of meditation and the lore of Brahman as taught in the Upanishads. Hence Alara Kalama became the first teacher (Guru) of Buddha.
  • Gautam got Enlightenment at the age of 35 years on the bank of the river Nilanjana of Gaya (now Bodhgaya) under a Peepal tree and became the Buddha.
  • He gave his first Sermon at the Deer Park in Sarnath to five ascetics (Assaji, Mogallana, Upali, Sariputta and Anand). This is called Dharmachakraparivartana. They gathered together as a disciplined body of monks called Bhikshus (beggars).
  • The text Jatakas deal with the stories of Buddha’s previous  life. Most of his sermons were given at Sravasti (UP).
  • He died at Kushinagar at the age of 80 in the year 483 BC. He died of food poisoning after eating pork at the house of Chunda.

    Symbols of different events in Buddha’s life
Birth                                                     Lotus and bull
Renunciation                                      Horse
Enlightenment                                    Bodhi tree (Peepal tree)
First Sermon                                       Wheel of law (Dhamma-chakra)
Parinirvana(Death)                            Stupa

Four Noble Truths (Arya-Satyas) of Buddha:

1. Dukha (that the world is full of sorrow)
2. Dukkha Samuddaya (that this sorrow has a cause)
3. Dukkha Nirodha (that this sorrow can be stopped)
4. Dukkha Nirodhagamini Pratipada (the path leading to cessation of sorrow)

Final Salvation (Nirvana) can be achieved by following
the Eight Fold Path (Astangika Marga):
1. Right Speech                               2. Right Action
3. Right Livelihood                        4. Right Effort
5. Right Mindfulness                     6. Right Meditation
7. Right Resolution                        8. Right View

  • Initially women were not allowed in Sangha; later on, on the insistence of his chief disciple Ananda, Buddha allowed women.
  • Prajapati Gautami (Buddha’s foster-mother) was the first woman disciple in the Sangha.

Buddha Sangeetis (Councils)
Sl. No.                   Year/Place                              Ruler/Patron               President

First                        483 BC/Rajgriha                  Ajatasatru                       Mahakassapa
Second                  383 BC/Vaishali                    Kalashok                          Saba Kami
Third                      250 BC/Pataliputra              Ashoka                             Mogaliput Tissa
Fourth                   100 AD/Kundala                   Van Kanishka                 Vasumitra


  • Hinayana: This was a sect with narrow sectarian outlook. They believed in salvation by one’s own efforts.
  • Mahayana: This was a sect with a broader outlook. They believed that salvation can be attained by faith. They worshipped the idols of Buddha. This sect became more popular.
  • Buddhist scriptures are called Pitakas and these are written in Pali.
  • Sutta Pitaka, Vinay Pitaka and Abhidhamma Pitaka are known as the Tripitakas of Buddhism.

Note: Other Buddhist works:
    Milindapanha :        A di al ogue between monk Nagasena and king Menander
    Buddhacharita :     The biography of Buddha by Ashwaghosha