Buddhism is an ancient religion, which has its roots in ancient India. It is believed that the religion started more than 2,500 years ago. The main aim of Buddhism is to attain enlightenment. Followers of Buddhism are taught there is no such thing as a god or Supreme Being. Rather, they have to attain happiness by sacrificing self indulgence and giving vices. Buddhism owes is beginning to Siddhartha Gautama.
Siddhartha Gautama was born as a prince in the fifth century BC. Later, when he meditated and attained enlightenment, he became the Buddha. He was born as a rich prince who had an easy life in Nepal. He saw a lot of suffering, illnesses, death and unhappiness in his subjects. He renounced a life of riches and set out on a journey in search for truth behind suffering. He mingled with holy men in search of this truth. It took him 6 years of meditation to know the truth and attain enlightenment. He sat under a fig tree meditating all the time. Thereafter he spent his life to teaching people the truth in life.
He also found that the answer was in the 4 noble truths. When a human being gives in to his desires and cravings, the cycle of rebirth occurs. When you follow the 4 noble truths, you can skip this cycle.
Buddhism began in India and most Buddhists lived here. Under the Gupta Empire the Buddhist monks started traveling. The monks spread Buddhism to the west and also in China and parts of eastern Asia. The Buddhists who traveled to various parts of the world also took items like sugar to china. By 600 Ad several Buddhists adapted to Hinduism again but also remembered the Buddha as one of the Hindu deities. In western region of Asia several Buddhists converted to Islam. Only in China Buddhism became stronger and monasteries were built.
All Buddhists follow five basic principles in life:
- They do not harm any living beings
- They never take what is not given to them
- They do not indulge in sexual misconduct
- They do not lie or gossip
- They do not drink or take drugs
Every Buddhist follows the Buddha’s life. They meditate for a long time and try to awaken to the truth just like Buddha did. In countries that follow Buddhism there are several temples dedicated to Buddha where the monks offer flowers and incense sticks to the shrine. Buddhists also offer food for the monks. When a person enters a Buddhist temple, he/she should remove their shoes, join their hands and bow in respect in front of the image of Lord Buddha. Believers also use prayer beads while meditating called the mala, as it helps them focus and concentrate on the chanting.
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