Although the roots of Buddhism go back to India, over the centuries the religion spread across the whole of Asia. It’s really easy to get lost between the many different schools and sub-branches of Buddhism, but most commonly it is divided into two main branches: Theravāda and Mahāyāna Buddhism.
Years after the death of the Buddha, the Buddhist Sangha, the monastic community split into two mainstream schools called Sthavira and Mahāsanghika, mainly due to some differences in the religious practice and the interpretation of the teaching.
The Theravāda tradition is said to be the continuation of the more orthodox Sthavira school.
The ‘Theravada’ is a Sanskrit expression which means the ‘Doctrine of the Elders’.
The Theravāda is a conservatist current in the sense that the theravādins put great emphasis on the preservation of the doctrine and the tradition in its original and most authentic form.
Buddhism. For most people the word Buddhism reflects tranquillity and peace of mind, monks in orange robes and non-violence. But when exactly did Buddhism start? What are the important festivals and celebrations?
Architecture of Buddhism takes a closer look where Buddhism got its origins from.
Quick facts about the history:
The founder of Buddhism was a royal prince named Buddha Shakyamuni also known as Siddhartha Gautama, born some 2500 years ago in Lumbini, a place initially in India but now located in Nepal. The exact birthdate is often debated while many authorities favour 623 BC, others around 400 BC.
The legend says that his father kept him away from the outside of the palace and aiming to not make him aware of the world’s common sufferings: aging, sickness and death.
He had hoped that Shakyamuni would become a great king, despite knowing that his future has been several times prophesied to become great spiritual leader. Buddha spent the first part of his life fulfilling his duties in the royal palace of the family. When he reached his late 20’s, curiosity of life beyond his palace grew and grew, eventually letting him start to explore the surroundings. He was abruptly confronted with reality when he saw old men and diseased people.
By the age of 29 he embarked on a spiritual quest to understand how human suffering could be overcome. After six years he attained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree (tree of awakening) where he sat for 49 consecutive days and practiced meditation and fasting.