Buddhism- A Major Religion of World



Buddhism is one of most old religions ever practiced by mankind. It’s named after Buddha, which means “the awakened one” in Buddhist traditions. It’s a non-theistic religion, a philosophy, and a system of psychology. In Sanskrit it’s known as Buddha Dharma and in Pali is known to be Dhamma. Siddhartha Gautam was the only Buddha among his predecessors and followers. Siddhartha was born in c.563 B.C.and died in the age of around 80.

Buddha had started spreading his teachings in his lifetime itself and following centuries witnessed a flurry of followers of the teachings of Buddha. Subsequently, his teachings and the lifestyle which he propagated came under the umbrella of Buddhism. In the next five centuries of Buddha’s “Nirvana”, Buddhism spread throughout the Indian subcontinent. And in next two millennia Buddhism spread over Central, Southeast and East Asia and Eastern Europe.

Present Day Buddhism With the advent of other religions like Vashnavism and Shaivism, Buddhism became virtually extinct in India except in some regions of Himalaya.In present day scenario, scholars classify Buddhism in to similar traditions to those existing in ancient times, though with some alterations in the names. They are:


Southern Buddhism, or Theravada, or Pali Buddhism, or Southeast Asian Buddhism :

This section of Buddhism is practiced in Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and parts of Malaysia, Vietnam, China and Bangladesh (Southeast Asia).

Eastern Buddhism, or East Asian Buddhism, or Chinese Buddhism, or Sino-Japanese Buddhism :

This section of Buddhism is practiced predominantly in China, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, Singapore and parts of Russia.

Northern Buddhism, or Tibetan Buddhism, or Tibeto-Mongolian Buddhism:

Also called Lamaism sometimes-This Section of Buddhism is professed mainly in Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan and parts of Nepal, India, China and Russia.

Mahayana and Hinayana were the sects of early Buddhism and they have remained relevant in the present periods also.Northern Buddhists and Eastern Buddhist belong themselves to Mahayana.The word Hinayana is originally close to Theravada and some other Indian Schools but its use is avoided as per the directives of World Federation of Buddhists.

Nowadays Buddhism is considered a major religion of the world.The population of Buddhism followers presently is more than 350 million. According to an analysis, Buddhism is the fifth-largest religion in the world only behind Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and traditional Chinese religion.

According to buddhist philosophy whole life is suffering(dukkha) and this is due to the desire(trishna). These principles are part of “Four Noble Truths”. The desire or trishna could be overcome by observing “Eight Noble Path”. On observing eight fould paths a human can attain “nirvana” the highest aim according to the Buddhism. The monks' order (Sangha), that began during the lifetime of the Buddha itself in India, is amongst the oldest organizations on earth.

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