As a Buddhist, one should know the basic meaning of these words to be able to give right answer if asked about it by other religious people in such a developing and globalizing world. It is incomplete that if one is asked what is Buddha and replied as “Buddha” in stead of giving the complete answer like Lord Buddha is the one who knows and achieve the fully enlightenment by himself and let all know like him.
Actually he is a good instructor of all human beings and a good leader in the 6th centaury BC. He was not a god nor a creator but a unique Being who was the profoundest of thinkers, the most persuasive of speakers, the most energetic of workers, the most successful of reformers, the most compassionate and tolerant of teachers, the most efficient of administrators. He was so pure and so holy that he should be called “The Holiest of Holies.
” He was the perfect model of all the virtues He preached.
Before appearance of the Lord Buddha Gotama, there were many so called Buddhas who claimed themselves they were Buddhas such as Puranakassapa, Makkhaligosala and so on. In deed they are not real Buddhas. They had no reason and condition for Buddha. Their lives were living under other people and later they claimed as noble ones in order to get food, fame and properties. So if you reply our lord Buddha as Buddha simply, at that time, some can confuse Him with them.
Therefore, we need to give the detail answers to people who want to know about a Buddha. As a matter of fact, it is very difficult to become a real Buddha. A normal people can not consider to be a Buddha because it mast have to spend much time and perform many good perfection to be Buddha. So in the teachings of the Buddha, we can see the stanza like, ‘Tathagatassa arahato sammasambuddhassa patubhaho dullabho lokasmim’ meaning ‘it is very rare to appear a real Buddha endowed with the attribute of Araham and Sammasambuddha in the world.’[footnoteRef:5] [5: A.N.3. 167]
To become a real Buddha, our lord Buddha himself had to take much time and spent many years. It is said he spent for four Asankhyeyas and one lakh .During that time; he performed the great deeds such as the perfection of charity, perfection of morality, the perfection of renunciation and so on aiming at the attainment of enlightenment. He passed through the various lives- higher or lower. However, he did not take into consideration of life’ situation but for welfare of others.
The Buddha who was a spiritual leader and teacher whose life serves as the foundation of the Buddhist religion or Buddhism, was born in Nepal in the 6th century B.C. Buddhism is one of the shining, ideal and the best religions in the world since 2,600 years. It was founded by the Buddha, the Teacher of men, Devas, and Brahmã, who was born in 563 BCE.[footnoteRef:6] He was son of Suddhodhana, king of the Khattiya clan known as Sakya of Kapitlavatthu,[footnoteRef:7] situated near Nepal border at the time of presence. He renounced his royal life and kingship, universal monarch that would be seven days later at the age of 29 and went to Uruvela forest for seeking Nibbãna liberating him from the whirlpool of Saüsãra. He became the one who is fully enlightenment after he was undertaking the right way called Middle Path under the Bodhi-tree on the full-moon day of Vesãkha (Vesak) when he was at the age of 35. He, himself not only realized but also let others know the Four Noble Truths. When the Buddha was setting under Linlun-Tree (Rãjaratana), Tapussa and Bhallika, the merchants from Ukkala approached and donated some honey cake because of direction by former family god, spirit.[footnoteRef:8] He founded Buddhism and created Buddhist Community which consists of Bhikkhus, Bhikkhunîs, lay men, and lay women in group. Later on, during his 45 years of Buddha’s life, he could make gradually propagation of his teachings around 16 states of Majjhimadesa, ( India) existed at this time and abroad as well as all of over the world as much he could, seeing on all mankind for their welfare, out of Karunã, compassion. Uttering his teachings and delivering human being so that free from chain of defilements, at age of 80, the Buddha demised under the Sãla tree of Lumbinî Park in Kusinãra, Pãvã in 455 BC.
Today Buddhism is found in Ceylon, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Tibet, China, Japan, Mongolia, Korea, Formosa, in some parts of India, Pakistan and Nepal, and also in the Soviet Union. The Buddhist population of the world is over 500 million.[footnoteRef:10] [10: What the Buddha taught]
Buddhism is the teachings of the Buddha which are taught by Him during 45 years. It is not a religion of neither faith nor soul system. It is the noble way of life. We can divide Buddhism into three portions. The first one is Vinaya- pertaining to morality, the second Suttanta concerning with concentration and the third Abhidhamma related to wisdom. In the Vinaya, the Buddha taught many fundamental and highest rules and regulations for the Order of monks and nuns and human society. The noble disciplinary rules which we should abide by from the beginning of one life till Nibbana, are found in it. In Suttanta, we can see many kinds of discourse which were taught by the Buddha in various ways and in different places. In the Abhidhamma, there are many profound Dhammas which cannot be thought with normal knowledge by normal people. Buddhism is indeed based on morality, concentration and wisdom and freedom for thought. The Buddha never demands blind faith from his followers but he always advises them to come and see and later choose the ways which should be suitable form them to practice for liberation. He had already showed the ways to happiness in many canonical texts. Therefore, before acceptance the Buddhism we firstly should come to study the teaching s of Buddha in detail. Then only can we understand about Buddhism well. As the second step, we need to practice it with much effort. And than as the third stage, we will realize the way to happiness and find out of our liberation in Samsara. So, as another way, we can call Buddhism as one kind of religion based on study, practice and knowledge.
When we went to back to view the religions that appeared during the 6th BC, we could find that most of them were based on God or Creator. So here we have to know how the religions appeared in the world. In the Dhammapada, the Buddha said “When threatened with danger, men go to many a refuge, – to hills, woods, groves, trees, and shrines. But such a refuge is not a safe refuge, not the best refuge. One is not liberated from all evil consequences of existence (dukkha) for having come to such a refuge.”
Thousands of years back, man noticed many wonderful occurrences when he started to think of various kinds of natural phenomena in this world. By the time of the certain natural forces were not in his favor, he had to face sufferings and he had seen disasters and terrifying events. Then he began to consider how he could protect these unfavorable conditions that created fear, suspicion, insecurity, tension and pain. He find out many of these things were beyond comprehension and therefore, he thought there must be some invisible powerful supernatural forces or persons behind all these happenings. These events which were difficult to understand were thought to be the work of various ‘gods’. He began to worship them and to make animal sacrifices hoping to please these supernatural powers. He also started to praise and worship in thanksgiving when certain phenomena were in his favor, thinking that these too were the acts of the gods. The aim of these practices was to gain protection and blessings form these gods to in this world without facing many difficulties. When these concepts started to develop, certain other important practices were also incorporated. They are rites, rituals and ceremonies or festivals. Separate communities organized them in accordance with their own needs in their own geographical regions. When there was a big enough body of ceremonies and philosophical thought, ‘religion’ became an intrinsic part of every civilization.
The foundation of religion was laid by man at the beginning for self-preservation because of fear, suspicion, insecurity, misunderstanding of life and natural phenomena. These served as the foundation for religion as materials like bricks, stones, sand, cement and earth are used for laying the foundation of a building.
After that, man embellished this building of religion by introducing faith, offerings, prayers, vows, penalties, morals and ethics in the name of god in order to control mankind, and also to find out an eternal place called paradise for everlasting happiness and peace of the soul. Many years later after accepting the supernatural powers as worship, another religion named ‘Buddhism’ came into being in the world. In spite of being later religion, the leader of Buddhism did not use any kinds of those wrong and old beliefs. He did not exploit the concept of god, the soul-theory, eternal hell or eternal heaven to formulate Buddhism. He did not show fear and distorted views regarding the natural phenomena to support his religion. Neither did he demand blind faith nor unnecessary rites and rituals. He never believed in self-torture, the imposition of penalties or commandments in the propagation of Buddhism nor did He also seek the authority of any external divine agency to strengthen his arguments. For the sake of erecting this religious building called Buddhism, He used original ideals or materials ;as the Right Understanding of life, the world and natural phenomena or the cosmic order and the real characteristics of mind and matter, elements and energies, moral and spiritual development, discipline, mental training and purification, knowledge, wisdom and enlightenment.
The Buddha,during his life time, tried to make Buddhist community arising bigger and bigger, more and more, and occasionally sent the 60 Bhikkhus, monks for missionary to the four directions where there is not yet reached his teachings at the dawn of Buddhism, saying:
Caratha Bhikkhave cãrikaü, Bahujana hitãya, Bahujana sukhãya, Lokãnukappãya, atthãya, hitãya, sukhãya.. etc.
It means that “Go forth, O Bhikkhus, on your wanderings, for the good of the massive being (Bahujana), for the happiness of massive being, in compassion for the world for the good, the welfare (Hita) and the happiness (Sukha) of Devas, celestial being and men. Let not two of you go the same way, O Bhikkhus, proclaim the Dhamma which is beneficent at the beginning, beneficent in the middle and beneficent in the end.”
Therefore, the Bhikkhus were wandering and delivering the Buddha’s teaching around India and abroad. After the Buddha was gone, he left his verbal teachings called Tri-piñaka and five Nikãyas which consisted of Vinaya, rules and regulating of Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunîs, Sutta, the discourse for all, and Abhidhamma, based on natural which is known Buddha’s philosophy. The Buddha’s Dhamma, or teachings were collectively preserved in Tri-piñaka by his disciples keeping in memory, but it was more strength. Therefore, they, the Buddha’s disciples have convened the Saügha Council and maintained the Buddha’s teachings as original after the Buddha’s Parinibbãna, the final release. Who are Buddhists? Those who follow Buddhism as the teaching of the Buddha are called Buddhists. The Buddha converted numerous people into Buddhism and he organized a Buddha’s community consisted four kinds of which are: Bhikkhus (monks), Bhikkhunîs (Nuns), Upãsakas (Lay men), and Upãsikas (Lay women), which are also called Buddhists (Buddha’s Four Audiences). They obeyed the Buddha’s teachings and practiced as what the Buddha taught. Therefore, in this chapter of this work, these are explored about how far Buddha’s dispensation spread around Majjhima-desa, middle region called at this time of Buddha and abroad, and why Buddhism declined and disappeared apart of some monastic life or followers from their mother-land based on geography and scripture recorded with six conferences so as to know clearly the trace about how was dissemination of Buddhism into Myanmar and then it will be shown relatively on rest chapters.