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Spread of Buddhism Globally

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By Pragya Jha

Buddhism grew very rapidly during during the lifetime of lord Buddha and after his death. Mahatma (Lord) Buddha was a prince , born in Lumbini (in present-day Nepal). He was named Siddhartha by his parents. He was deeply anguished  when he saw an old man, a sick man and a corpse. At the age of 29 he left the royal palace and went to forest to follow spiritual life of meditation. Siddhartha sought enlightenment through concentration. He sat under a pipal tree and practiced intense meditation. After 40 days, he reached the ultimate goal — nirvana.

What was the religion all about?

According to Buddha desire was the cause of all suffering. If desire is conquered one could attain Nirvana and to conquer desire one must follow the eight fold path-

  1. Right Speech

2) Right means of livelihood

3) Right observation

4) Right Action

5) Right Determination

6) Right Exertion

7) Right memory

8)Right meditation

He believed in the middle path and rejected the path of luxury and extreme ascetism. He stressed on non violence and laid down the following code of conduct for his followers-

  1. Not to covet property of others.

2) Not to tell a lie.

3) Not to commit violence

4) Not to drink

5) Not to indulge in corrupt practices.

An emperor converts to Buddhism:

Ashoka was the most powerful king of Mauryan Empire. Ashoka attacked Kalinga in 261 BCE. However, the tremendous loss of human lives and suffering that occurred in the war completely changed Ashoka. After this, he began to follow the path of Buddhism. He gave up the policy of Dig-Vijay(conquest of territories) and adopted the policy of dhamma (path of righteous living).He employed his unlimited power and resources in the teaching of an ethical system which he called Dhamma. Ashoka appointed Dhamma Mahamatras (Dhamma: derived from Dharma, a Sanskrit word). They were special officers who were expected to spread the message of Dhamma.

Spread of Buddhism Outside India

King Ashoka ,in order to spread the principles and message of Dhamma, got proclamation inscribed on stone pillars and placed them throughout his kingdom. Ashoka , not only spread the religion within India but outside India as well. Teams of missionaries were sent all over the Indian Subcontinent i.e. Sri Lanka,Myanmar and other neighboring countries to spread the message of Buddhism.

Spread of  Buddhism in Sri Lanka

Ashoka’s most successful mission was headed by his son Mahindra and daughter Sanghamitra who traveled to Sri Lanka along with four other monks and a novice. The mission turned out to be so successful that the ruler of Sri Lanka Devaanampiya Tissa himself became a Buddhist . He established numerous monasteries and several Buddhist monuments.

Spread of Buddhism in China

China witnessed the contact with Buddhism with the arrival of  Buddhist scholar Bodhi Dharma, who introduced the teachings of the Buddha to the Chinese. The effect in due course of time was intermingling of Buddhism and Chinese Taoism which resulted in the in the Ch’an school of Buddhism in China.

Spread of Buddhism in Korea

After China , Buddhism further traveled to Korea. Korean states have been familiar with Chinese religions in the form of Taoism and Confucianism, but the influence of these religions were limited. Buddhism, on the other hand, was adopted as the state religion by rulers as early as the fourth century, in spite of considerable local oppositions. Before the advent Buddhism Koreans predominantly practiced animism. Buddhism served as a foundation for Korean ethics. Buddhism became popular among the common people in the 5th century when it entered the kingdom of Silla .Many Korean Buddhist monks traveled to China to study the Buddha dharma in the sixth century. Buddhism achieved great success  in Korea,  Cities/places were even renamed after famous places during the time of Buddha.

Spread of Buddhism in Japan

After China and Korea,Buddhism spread to Japan in 6th century. Buddhism came to Japan during the reign of Emperor Yomei and spread faster under the patronage of his son Shotoku. Traditional beliefs says that Emperor Yomei once experienced serious illness,his young son impressed by Buddhist faith ,prayed day and night for his father.Emperor Yomei recovered and converted to Buddhism.After Yomei ,his son Shotoku claimed to the throne and devoted his life to public duty. He constructed seven temples.The prince never became a monk (some sources say he did).

Spread of Buddhism in Western Countries

Buddhist philosophy, which was spread by some of the Indian emperors to different parts of the Indian sub continent and subsequently the world, is still in pace of its rhythm.

 

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‘Religion’ in India- Types and its Connection to Country’s Civilization

The Ancient religions of India are Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.

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Religion
Ancient Religions of India.

India’s economic and political strata in today’s world have reached a great level, but that is still not what the country is known for. The country is known for its diversity and religions because the term ‘religion’ in India is not just a system of belief and worship, but a way of life too. Since ancient times, it has been an integral part of its culture. For the citizens of this country, religion pervades through all the activities of life- from cooking chores to working and politics. The religion we follow plays an important role in our upbringing as well. Our conditioning is done based on the principles of our religion. India is a home to many religions- Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity, Jainism, Buddhism, Islam and others.

How old is the Indian civilization?

The Indian civilization is around 4000 years old, with the existing Indian religions growing in that period. The antiquity of the religions in India begins from the Harappan culture. It’s a secular country which respects all kinds of religion and culture, but during the ancient times, when the Human civilization was developing, there were three main religions native to India- Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The predominant religion during this period was Hinduism, which is said have originated in the Northern India.

Religion wise Indian Population:

  • HINDUISM – about 82%
  • ISLAM – about 12%
  • CHRISTIANITY – about 2.5%
  • SIKHISM – about 2%
  • BUDDHISM – about 0.7%
  • JAINISM – about 0.5%
  • ZOROASTRIANISM – about 0.01%
  • JUDAISM – about 0.0005%   (stated by adaniel.tripod)

Hinduism

Religion
Brahma                                                                                                                                                          Pixabay

Hinduism is a polytheistic religion. Its followers worship several deities. Unlike the other religions, this religion does not have one teacher. Its followers, the ‘Hindus’ believe in a supreme divine spirit called ‘Parama Brahma’. The concept of Parama Brahma states that Brahma is omnipresent.

Hindus believe in vasudhaiva kutumbakam, which means the whole world is a single family. They also believe in Sarva dharma Sama Bhava, which means all religions are equal. The practice follows the ideas of mercy, charity, compassion, benevolence, non-violence and mercy. It believes the concept of ‘Bhakti’ or devotion.

The sacred writings of Hinduism include the Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Upanishads.

Also Read: The history and development of Indian Handicrafts

Jainism

Religion
Lord Mahavira                                                                                                                                                   Pixabay
According to tradition, the founder of Jainism was first Tirthankara Adinatha. However, the religion was widely propagated by the 24th Tirthankara, Mahavira. He was born in Vaishali, Bihar, who belonged to the clan ‘Licchavi’. Mahavira was moved by the sufferings of people, and therefore, left his home at the age of 30 to seek the truth. He supported the teachings of the previous Tirthankaras, and added his own beliefs to the teachings.
He believed in the ideology of leading a good life and not doing any wrong. He did not encourage the practice of needing the help of God for everything.
Doctrines of Jainism:
  1. Ahimsa (Non-violence)
  2. Satya (Truth)
  3. Asteya (Non-stealing)
  4. Brahmacharya (Chastity)
  5. Aparigraha (Non-possession)

Buddhism

Religion
Lord Buddha                                                                                                                                                    Pixabay
Buddhism is a religion which consists of different kinds of beliefs and practices based on the teachings of Lord Buddha. Buddha’s name was Siddhartha. He was the son of the Shakya clan’s leader. It is believed that Siddhartha made three observations, which changed his life:  a feeble old man; a person suffering from disease; and a dead body being taken for cremation. This propelled him in finding the true meaning of life. He left his home at an early age and attained ‘enlightenment’ in Bodhgaya.
He also prescribed the four noble truths and eight fold path.
Four noble truths are:
  • Dukkha (truth of suffering)
  • Samudāya (truth of the suffering’s origin)
  • Nirodha (the truth of suffering’s cessation.)
  • Magga (Direction to eight-fold path)

The eight fold path are- Right aims, Right beliefs, Right conduct, Right speech, Right effort, Right occupation, Right meditation and Right thinking.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at twitter @ImMeghaacharya.

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Angkor Wat: History behind Cambodian Hindu temple

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Angkor Wat: World’s Largest Hindu Temple


In this article, we will discuss about the “History behind Angkor Wat Hindu Temple“, which is the world’s largest Hindu temple located in “Cambodia” – southeast asian nation.


 

Angkor Wat: Lost in the woods for over 400 years, the discovery of Angkor Wat, the largest Hindu monument literally shocked the world. Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s famous temple is a place full of still unexplored history, myth and legend.

Discovery & History of Angkor Wat – World’s Largest Hindu Temple

  • Angkor wat denotes Cambodia’s unwrapped mystery of civilization that for centuries looked like it never existed. The hidden temple was a stuff of legend until 1860 when a French naturalist, “Henri Mohout”  accidently came to that place during his expedition. He saw the ruins of Angkor Wat. But why did the civilization collapse? How did they make this sophisticated temple with no modern technologies? What must have happened?  It’s the high time to uncover these hidden secrets.
  • Angkor, the capital of last Cambodian empire was home to millions of people over 800 years ago. The powerful empire covered South East Asia including Vietnam, Bay of Bengal and North West China. Built in the 12th century, Angkor Wat is among the wonders of the world. Even today, this world’s largest hundu temple or religious monument has a huge complex stretched at about 200 hectares of land. While entering the main temple a vast gate gives an impression that you have reached the temple, however, you realize that the main temple still is 400 yards away. The expansive nature of temple is seen to be believed.
  • Angkor Wat is also known as the city temple as it was surrounded by urban areas (long back before disappearing). When built,  it was dedicated to representing Hindu god, “Lord Vishnu”. There is a 213 feet high central tower(temple) encircled by 4 small towers representing Mount Meru, a celestial home of god based on Hindu mythology. It took 50,000 workers to build this extraordinary temple, that was completed in the year 1145.
  • This huge temple can be compared to Egyptian pyramids in the context of the strength. Compared to the construction of modern European temples which require almost 300 to 400 years, Angkor Wat was completed in only 32 years. How did they do? The answer to this question lies inside the temple. There is a carving in the main temple which gives clues to the mystery of building this huge temple without any modern technology. The story carved in the stones speaks: a lever used to push big stone blocks one over another to assemble it perfectly. This shows Angkor Wat was planned, assembled and then carved.
  • The surface of this masterpiece is covered with carvings that display the Hindu mythological stories originated in India. But how did the stories from India arrive in Cambodia? The answer is “Indian Traders”. The Indian traders travelling towards south-east Asia passed their religion, art and architecture to the local people of Cambodia. This way the traders were an important part of spreading Hindu culture in Cambodian Empire.
  • Archaeologists have used sophisticated aerial imaging techniques to look into the past of Cambodia. In 1994, NASA took the first image which shows Angkor Wat was huge and another recent satellite image show collection of hundreds of temples in the area. The modern technology has also thrown light on the extensive water management system of the Cambodian empire which existed those times. This shows the engineering marvels of Cambodians. They constructed rectangular reservoirs and water systems in such a way that the water from Kulen Mountain irrigates the farms resulting in a good harvest. It could have been the work of only advanced and skilled people.
History behind Cambodian Hindu temple
Wikimedia

How did the civilization collapse? Hard evidence points towards the failure of Water management system. But the debate is still going on. Surprisingly the temple was never abandoned, a group of Buddhist monks stayed there and aggressively worked to save the religious place for over centuries. This also gradually resulted in the transformation of a Hindu Temple into a Buddhist temple.

In 1992, Angkor Wat was listed as World Heritage site in danger. Subsequently, it was removed from the endangered list, to be included as a World Heritage site. France, Japan and China have helped  in temple restoration project. India’s archaeological department had also chipped in the 1980s. Currently,  German Apsara Conservation project is in place to save the sculptures carved on the stones. Due to the continuous efforts of UNESCO and other nations Angkor Wat has become a major tourist spot with over 2 million people visiting this place every year. (Inputs from Aakash Sinha)(image-Unesco)

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  1. This Ancient Lord Ganesha Temple in Rajasthan Collects 1000 Letters Everyday by Devotees.
  2. Mahalakshmi Temple: Know the Story behind the 300-Year-Old Ancient Shrine.
  3. 13 Beautiful Ancient Temples in India showcase Architectural Brilliance.
  4. Ancient Hindu Temple Changu Narayan in Nepal Possesses Historical Significance.
  5. These 5 Ancient Temples are Believed to be the Oldest in India.

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Schools in Sydney Witness Increase in Enrollment of Muslim and Hindu Students: Is Australia’s Religious Profile Changing?

According to latest figures, almost 30 per cent of the entire student population of the state has declined association with any religion".

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Muslim and Hindu
According to latest data, Hinduism and Islam and growing religions in the schools of New South Wales. Pixabay
  • Public schools have witnessed a rise in the enrollment of Muslim and Hindu students
  • According to survey by NSW Department of Education, about 20, 000 Hindu students have sought admissions this year
  • Shockingly, almost 30 per cent of the students have associated themselves with “no religion”

Australia , August 29, 2017 : Public schools in Sydney have witnessed a huge rise in the enrollment of Muslim and Hindu students while the population of Christian students is on a decline. This has been discovered by a recent survey by the New South Wales Department of Education, which revealed the growing figures of Muslim and Hindu students. According to the official data, the tally of Muslim and Hindu students enrolled this year has now touched 52,000 and 20,000, respectively.

The Rising Tally of Hindu-Muslim Students

Islam is the second largest religion of Australia, after Christianity, followed by Buddhism and Hinduism.

It was found that about 52,000 public school students now identify themselves as Muslim; a 2,000 person increase from last year’s enrollment.

As per data, 445 out of 507 students at Punchbowl Boys High School are listed as Islamic while 91 percent students at Auburn West Public School have identified as Muslims.

The state is also the preferred location for most residing Hindus of Australia with over 20,000 Hindu students in the state- this makes for a 7 per cent increase than 2016 figures.

According to a report by The Daily Telegraph, last year about 50,000 Muslim students were enrolled in public schools while the figures of Hindu students stood at 18,600.

ALSO READ Australian Census of 2016 Reveals Some Captivating Facts about Hindus

Students’ Tally of Pupils Belonging to Other Faiths

In comparison to the two faiths, the tally of Anglicans has fallen from 105,300 in 2016 to 99,000 this year. Additionally, a fall has also been observed in Protestant, Baptist and Presbyterian religions.

While the tally of children identifying as Catholic (other) has also witnessed a decline, the figures of Catholic (Western/Roman) students enrolled in schools this year have remained unchanged at 103,000.

However, shockingly, over 230,000 pupils choose to associate themselves with “no religion”. They make up almost 30 per cent of the entire student population of the state.

The high tally of children who do no associate with any religion has prompted parents and school authorities alike to define the structure of classes based on ethics instead of those in scriptures.

At present, about 30 per cent of the primary schools in the state offer ethics classes however they remain outside the domain of government funding.


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