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Historic Development Of Buddhism Into A Religion

The versions of the canon (accepted scripture) preserved in [Pali Canon|Pali], Sanskrit, Chinese, and Tibetan are sectarian variants of a corpus that grew and crystallized during three centuries of oral transmission.

Development Of Buddhism Into A Religion

Continued from << Buddha in Varanasi / Benares

A little further from Rajagriha there was another place, called Nalanda, where the Buddha appears to have made pleasant and prolonged sojourns, if we may judge by the costly number of monuments which have been erected there by the piety of Buddhist kings. Originally this place had been a garden of mango-trees (amras), situated near a lake, and belonged to a rich man. Five hundred merchants had purchased it as a gift for the Buddha, who, during a period of three months, had taught them the Law at this spot; and the kings who succeeded Bimbisara also tried to adorn it by the most costly edifices. They built there six monasteries called sangharamas (places of assembly), each one larger than the other, and one of the kings had them enclosed by a new brick wall to unite them in one.

When Hiouen-Thsang saw them, he described them as the largest and most handsome buildings of that kind he had met with in the whole of India. He mentions as a fact that ten thousand monks or students were kept there by the king's liberality, provided for out of the revenues of several cities, designated for that purpose in turn. A hundred professors taught every day in the interior of these monasteries, and the pupils vied with their masters in zeal. With a forbearance no less surprising, the sectaries of eighteen different schools of the Little and Great Vehicles lived there together on good terms; and the Vedas as well as the Buddhist Sutras were taught, besides physic and the occult sciences. It is just possible that the Chinese traveller may have given an exaggerated account, but it is certainly a fact that the ancient abode of the Buddha remained for many centuries an object of deep veneration. This pious institution was 700 years old when Hiouen-Thsang visited it, and he remained there several years, enjoying a generous and cordial hospitality. We will not at present, however, indulge in any further descriptions of Nalanda; later on we shall be able to return to the subject, and we will now proceed with the history of the Buddha.

Bimbisara, who had ascended the throne at an early age, reigned for no less than thirty years after his conversion to Buddhism, but his son and successor Ajatasatru, who had put his father to death, did not show himself at first so favourable to the new doctrine; instigated by Dewadatta, Siddhartha's perfidious cousin, he laid many snares for him; but touched at last by the virtues and pious counsels of the Buddha, he became converted, and made a confession of the crime by which he had acquired the throne. One whole Sinhalese Sutra, the Samanna-phala Sutra, is devoted to the account of this conversion, which seems to have been one of the most difficult and important of the Reformer. Ajatasatru is represented as one of the eight personages who divided the Buddha's relics, and who, according to the Tibetan Duha, had a rightful claim to them.



Development Of Buddhism Into A Religion


However great may have been the Buddha's attachment to Magadha, the scene of his severe novitiate and his glorious victory, he seems to have resided there less than in Kosala. This latter country, of which Benares forms a part, lay north-west of Magadha; its capital was Sravasti, the residence of Prasenajit, the king of Kosala, and its site must have been near Fizabad, one of the richest cities of the kingdom of Oudh (at Sahet-Mahet?). The Buddha had gone to Sravasti with the consent of Bimbisara, and on a formal invitation from Prasenajit. The famous garden of Anatha Pindika or Anatha Pindadha, called Jetavana, was situated near Sravasti, and it was there that the Buddha delivered most of the discourses recorded in the Sutras. Hiouen-Thsang states that Anatha Pindika, who owed his fame to his unbounded charity to the poor and orphaned, had given this magnificent garden to the Buddha. He was a minister of King Prasenajit, and had bought this property for a heavy sum of gold from Jeta, the eldest son of the king, hence the name of Jetavana, or Jeta's Wood. Anatha Pindika had built a vihara in the midst of it, under the shade of the finest trees, and there the Buddha dwelt twenty-three years. Prasenajit himself, when he was converted, built him a lecture-hall to the east of the city, and Hiouen-Thsang mentions having seen the ruins surmounted by a stupa. At a short distance rose a tower, the remains of the ancient vihara of Prajapati, the Buddha's aunt. This circumstance as well as several others would lead us to suppose that Siddhartha's family, or at least some members of it, had joined him in this lovely spot, where he was so much beloved and in which he took so much pleasure. Maha-Prajapati was the first woman whom, at the urgent solicitation of his cousin Ananda, he permitted to adopt the religious life.

Eighteen or nineteen miles south of the city, the spot where the Buddha met his father, after twelve years' absence, was still shown in the days of Hiouen-Thsang. Suddhodana had been grievously distressed at being separated from his son, and had made continual efforts to bring him back. He had dispatched eight messengers one after the other; and all, captivated by the prince's eloquence and superiority, had remained with him and had joined his community. At last he sent one of his ministers, called Charka, who was, like the others, converted; but who returned to the king and announced the coming of his son. It seems that his father forestalled this journey, and went himself to the Buddha. Nevertheless the Buddha returned the king's visit, and shortly afterwards went to Kapilavastu. If we are to believe the Tibetan writers, the Sakyas followed their king's example, and embraced Buddhism: most of them indeed adopted the religious habit, which was also assumed by the Buddha's three wives, Gopa, Yasodhara, and Utpalavarna, as well as many other women.

Notwithstanding the protection of kings and the enthusiasm of the populace, it appears that the Buddha had to contend with a most violent and stubborn opposition from the Brahmans. Their rivalry proved often dangerous to him. It is true that the Buddha was not sparing in his criticisms of his adversaries. Not only did he expose the ignorance and error of the very basis of their system, but he reproached them with being hypocrites, charlatans, and jugglers, censures which wounded them the more that they were not undeserved. His influence increased at the expense of theirs, and they neglected no means to arrest such a dangerous movement, their vanity being concerned as well as their authority. A legend, entitled Pratiharya Suira, is almost entirely devoted to the narration of a great defeat the Brahmans sustained at the hands of the Buddha in the presence of Prasenajit: it resembled a tournament, of which the king and people were umpires. In another, and even more curious legend, the Brahmans are said to have exacted a promise from the citizens of Bhadramkara, whom they ruled at their will, that they would not admit the Buddha who was then approaching. When, however, the Bhagavat entered the city, a Brahman woman of Kapilavastu, who had married in the country, disobeyed the order, got out at night, scaled the walls with a ladder, and threw herself at the Buddha's feet to be taught the Law; her example was soon followed by one of the richest inhabitants of the city, named Mendhaka, who harangued the people, and at once gained them over to the Liberator, whom the Brahmans wished to humiliate and to exile. Matters were sometimes carried still further, and if we may judge by the traditions quoted by Fa-Hian and Hiouen-Thsang, the Buddha must often have been personally threatened and attempts made upon his life. This is not in itself astonishing, and the only wonder is that the Buddha escaped all the ambushes that were laid for him.

Next >> The Lord Buddha enters Nirvana and dies

Historic Development of Buddhism into a religion

Text adapted from 'The Buddha and His Religion'
by Jules Barthélemy Saint-Hilaire (19 Aug 1805 – 24 Nov 1895)


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First hoisted in 1885 in Sri Lanka, is a symbol of faith and peace used throughout the world to represent the Buddhist faith.

Buddhist Flag Picture - Buddhist Flag Colours - The Buddhist Flag Sri Lanka 1885

Buddhist Flag Meanings
Blue: Universal Compassion
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Red: Blessings
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Development Of Buddhism Into A Religion

The Dharma Wheel

Spokes of the Dharmachakra - "The Dharma Wheel" Meaning - The Dharma Wheel Symbol - The Dharma Wheel Image - 8 spokes representing the Noble Eightfold Path (Ariya magga)

In Buddhism—according to the Pali Canon, Vinayapitaka, Khandhaka, Mahavagga, the number of spokes of the Dharmachakra represent various meanings:

8 spokes representing the Noble Eightfold Path (Ariya magga).
12 spokes representing the Twelve Laws of Dependent Origination (Paticcasamuppada).
24 spokes representing the Twelve Laws of Dependent Origination and the Twelve Laws of Dependent Termination (Paticcasamuppada).
31 spokes representing 31 realms of existence (11 realms of desire, 16 realms of form and 4 realms of formlessness).


Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is a Japanese Buddhist chant based upon the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren Daishonin (Feb 16, 1222 – Oct 13, 1282) a Buddhist monk who lived during the Kamakura period (1185–1333) in Japan. Nichiren taught devotion to the Lotus Sutra, entitled Myōhō-Renge-Kyō in Japanese, as the exclusive means to attain enlightenment and the chanting of Nam-Myōhō-Renge-Kyō as the essential practice of the teaching. Various schools with diverging interpretations of Nichiren's teachings comprise Nichiren Buddhism.
Nam - To devote one's life
Myoho - Myo is the mystic nature of life and Ho, its manifestation
Renge - "Lotus Flower"; which symolises the ballance of cause and effect
Kyo - Sutra, the voice or teachings of Buddha (The sound or vibration that connects everything in the ubiverse)


As the Buddha had never claimed to be a god, it is evident that he never prescribed the form of worship that was to be rendered to him. A legend, however, attributes to him the institution of this form of worship

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