The Eighteen Arhats are depicted in Mahayana Buddhism as the original followers of Gautama Buddha who have followed the Noble Eightfold Path and attained the four stages of enlightenment. They are free of worldly cravings, they are charged to protect the Buddhist faith and to wait on earth for the coming of Maitreya, an enlightened Buddha prophesied to arrive on earth many millennia after Gautama Buddha's death. In China, the eighteen arhats are a popular subject in Buddhist art, such as the famous Chinese group of glazed pottery luohans from Yixian from about 1000 CE; the arhats were composed of only 10 disciples of Gautama Buddha, although the earliest Indian sutras indicate that only 4 of them, Kundadhana and Nakula, were instructed to await the coming of Maitreya. Earliest Chinese representations of the arhats can be traced back to as early as the fourth century, focused on Pindola, popularized in art by the book Method for Inviting Pindola; this number increased to sixteen to include patriarchs and other spiritual adepts.
Teachings about the Arhats made their way to China where they were called Luohan, but it wasn't until 654 AD when the Nandimitrāvadāna, Record on the Duration of the Law, spoken by the Great arhat Nadimitra, was translated by Xuanzang into Chinese that the names of these arhats were known. For some reason Kundadhana was dropped from this list. Somewhere between the late Tang Dynasty and early Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period of China two other Luohans were added to the roster increasing the number to 18, but this depiction of 18 Luohans only gained a foothold in China, whereas other areas like Japan continued to revere only sixteen and their roster differs somewhat. This depiction of having 18 instead of 16 Luohans continues into modern Chinese Buddhist traditions. A cult built around the Luohans as guardians of Buddhist faith gained momentum amongst Chinese Buddhists at the end of the ninth century for they had just been through a period a great persecution under the reign of Emperor Tang Wuzong.
In fact the last two additions to this roster, Taming Dragon and Taming Tiger, are thinly veiled swipes against Taoism. Because no historical records detailing what the Luohans looked like existed, there were no distinguishing features to tell the Luohans apart in early Chinese depictions; the first portraits of the 16 Luohans were painted by the monk Guanxiu in 891 AD, who at the time was residing in Chengdu. Legend has it that the 16 Luohans knew of Guanxiu's expert calligraphy and painting skills, so they appeared to the monk in a dream to make a request that he paint their portraits; the paintings depicted them as foreigners having bushy eyebrows, large eyes, hanging cheeks and high noses. They were seated in landscapes, leaning against pine stones. An additional theme in these paintings was that they were portrayed as being unkempt and "eccentric," which emphasizes that they were vagabonds and beggars who have left all worldly desires behind; when Guanxiu was asked how he came up with the depictions, he answered: "It was in a dream that I saw these Gods and Buddhas.
After I woke up, I painted. So, I guess I can refer to these Luohans as'Luohans in a dream'." These portraits painted by Guanxiu have become the definitive images for the 18 Luohans in Chinese Buddhist iconography, although in modern depictions they bear more Sinitic features and at the same time have lost their exaggerated foreign features in exchange for more exaggerated expressions. The paintings were donated by Guanxiu to the Shengyin Temple in Qiantang where they are preserved with great care and ceremonious respect. Many prominent artists such as Wu Bin and Ding Guanpeng would try to faithfully imitate the original paintings; the Qianlong Emperor was a great admirer of the Luohans and during his visit to see the paintings in 1757, Qianlong not only examined them but he wrote a eulogy to each Luohan image. Copies of these eulogies were preserved. In 1764, Qianlong ordered that the paintings held at the Shengyin Monastery be reproduced and engraved on stone tablets for preservation; these were mounted like facets on a marble stupa for public display.
The temple was destroyed during the Taiping Rebellion but copies of ink rubbings of the steles were preserved in and outside of China. In the Chinese Tradition, the 18 Luohans are presented in the order they are said to have appeared to Guan Xiu, not according to their power: Deer Sitting, Raised Bowl, Raised Pagoda, Oversea, Elephant Riding, Laughing Lion, Open Heart, Raised Hand, Scratched Ear, Calico Bag, Long Eyebrow, Taming Dragon and Taming Tiger
Japanese Buddhist pantheon
The Japanese Buddhist Pantheon designates the multitude of various Buddhas and lesser deities and eminent religious masters in Buddhism. A Buddhist Pantheon exists to a certain extent in Mahāyāna, but is characteristic of Vajrayana Esoteric Buddhism, including Tibetan Buddhism and Japanese Shingon Buddhism, which formalized it to a great extent. In the ancient Japanese Buddhist Pantheon, more than 3,000 Buddhas or deities have been counted, although nowadays most temples focus on one Buddha and a few Bodhisattvas. Early, pre-sectarian Buddhism had a somewhat vague position on the effect of deities. Indeed, Buddhism is considered atheistic on account of its denial of a creator god and human responsibility to it. However, nearly all modern Buddhist schools accept the existence of gods of some kind. Of the major schools, Theravada tends to de-emphasize the gods, whereas Mahayana and Vajrayana do not; the rich Buddhist Pantheon of northern Buddhism derives from Vajrayana and Tantrism. The historical devotional roots of pantheistic Buddhism seem to go back to the period of the Kushan Empire.
The first proper mention of a Buddhist Pantheon appears in the 3-4th century Guhyasamāja, in which five Buddhas are mentioned, the emanations of which constitute a family: The five Kulas are Dvesa, Moha, Rāga, Cintāmani, Samaya, which conduce to the attainment of all desires and emancipation By the 9th century under the Pala king Dharmapala, the Buddhist Pantheon had swelled to about 1,000 Buddhas. In Japan, Kūkai introduced Shingon Esoteric Buddhism and its Buddhist Pantheon in the 9th century; the Buddhist Pantheon in Japanese Buddhism is defined by a hierarchy in which the Buddhas occupy the topmost category, followed in order by the numerous Bodhisattvas, the Wisdom Kings, the Deities, the "Circumstantial appearances" and lastly the patriarchs and eminent religious people. A famous statue group, the mandala located at Tō-ji temple in Kyōto, shows some of the main elements and structure of the Buddhist Pantheon; the mandala was offered to Kūkai. A duplicate was brought to Paris, France, by Emile Guimet at the end of the 19th century, is now located in the Musée Guimet.
Japanese Buddhism incorporated numerous Shintō deities in its reciprocally. Japanese Shingon has other categories, such as the Thirteen Buddhas. Zen Buddhism however rejected the strong polytheistic conceptions of orthodox Buddhism. A Buddha is one who has reached the state of nirvana. Buddhas are distinct from Bodhisattvas because they have chosen to leave earth and experience Buddhahood in parinirvana, or the cosmic, unearthly realm of nirvana; the five Wisdom Buddhas are centered around the supreme Buddha. Each of the four remaining Buddhas occupies a fixed cardinal point; each of them is a manifestation of Buddhahood, each is active in a different world-period, in which they manifest themselves among Bodhisattvas and humans. An enlightened being is one who embodies the qualities of the five Buddha Families, or the five Wisdom Buddhas, in doing so has shed the negative emotions which cause pain and suffering throughout life; these five key emotions are known as “disturbing” emotions and they include: attachment, ignorance and envy.
When these emotions are exercised they cause ourselves and others around us harm and suffering and can cause a lower level reincarnation in the next life. Therefore, by eliminating these emotions allow one to attain enlightenment by recognizing and becoming one with the five Wisdom Buddha; these "Dhyani Buddhas" form the core of the Buddhist pantheistic system, which developed from them in a multiform way. At the Musée Guimet, the five Buddhas are surrounded by protective Bodhisattvas; the five Wisdom Buddhas are known as, Ratnasambhava, Amitabha and Vairocana. They each have varying attributes specific to their purpose; the first Buddha, Akshobhya, is colored blue and sits in a vajra posture with his hand touching the ground. The color blue and the vajra posture symbolize changelessness and permanance, particular to him because he focuses on easing emotions that spur from anger, his wisdom is known as the “mirror-like” wisdom because when one is freed from anger and the feelings accompanied with anger, one is able to have an unbiased awareness of our daily experiences.
"Mirror-like" wisdom is the idea that one can see things for how they are instead of having a blurred perspective, caused from one's anger getting in the way of seeing the truth. The second Buddha, Ratnasambhava, is concerned with the enrichment of oneself; when one has been cleansed of the disturbing emotion of pride, one's ego becomes objective and this enables fairness and equality in regards to all aspects of one's life. This Buddha is a yellowish, gold color and he holds a wish-fulfilling jewel in his hand; the golden color is meant to symbolize wealth in a fulfilled sense and the wish-fulfilling jewel symbolizes his activity of enrichment because it is able to grant any desirable wish. This Buddha sits in vajra posture which represents fulfillment and suggests supreme generosity by giving the mudra hand gesture; the third Buddha, Amitabha, is focused on the elimination of the strong feeling of desire. Desire is one of the five disturbing emotions that causes one to have neverending wants and cultivates suffering.
If one cannot attain his desires he will feel unfulfilled and empty. The loss of great desire allows one to rise above to a more simplistic way of life with overwhelming gratitude. With recognition of this Buddha one w
Romanization of Japanese
The romanization of Japanese is the use of Latin script to write the Japanese language. This method of writing is sometimes referred to in Japanese as rōmaji (. There are several different romanization systems; the three main ones are Hepburn romanization, Kunrei-shiki romanization, Nihon-shiki romanization. Variants of the Hepburn system are the most used. Japanese is written in a combination of logographic characters borrowed from Chinese and syllabic scripts that ultimately derive from Chinese characters. Rōmaji may be used in any context where Japanese text is targeted at non-Japanese speakers who cannot read kanji or kana, such as for names on street signs and passports, in dictionaries and textbooks for foreign learners of the language, it is used to transliterate Japanese terms in text written in English on topics related to Japan, such as linguistics, literature and culture. Rōmaji is the most common way to input Japanese into word processors and computers, may be used to display Japanese on devices that do not support the display of Japanese characters.
All Japanese who have attended elementary school since World War II have been taught to read and write romanized Japanese. Therefore all Japanese are able to read and write Japanese using rōmaji, although it is rare in Japan to use this method to write Japanese, most Japanese are more comfortable reading kanji and kana; the earliest Japanese romanization system was based on Portuguese orthography. It was developed around 1548 by a Japanese Catholic named Yajiro. Jesuit priests used the system in a series of printed Catholic books so that missionaries could preach and teach their converts without learning to read Japanese orthography; the most useful of these books for the study of early modern Japanese pronunciation and early attempts at romanization was the Nippo jisho, a Japanese–Portuguese dictionary written in 1603. In general, the early Portuguese system was similar to Nihon-shiki in its treatment of vowels; some consonants were transliterated differently: for instance, the /k/ consonant was rendered, depending on context, as either c or q, the /ɸ/ consonant as f.
The Jesuits printed some secular books in romanized Japanese, including the first printed edition of the Japanese classic The Tale of the Heike, romanized as Feiqe no monogatari, a collection of Aesop's Fables. The latter continued to be read after the suppression of Christianity in Japan. Following the expulsion of Christians from Japan in the late 1590s and early 17th century, rōmaji fell out of use and was used sporadically in foreign texts until the mid-19th century, when Japan opened up again. From the mid-19th century onward, several systems were developed, culminating in the Hepburn system, named after James Curtis Hepburn who used it in the third edition of his Japanese–English dictionary, published in 1887; the Hepburn system included representation of some sounds. For example, Lafcadio Hearn's book Kwaidan shows the older kw- pronunciation. In the Meiji era, some Japanese scholars advocated abolishing the Japanese writing system and using rōmaji instead; the Nihon-shiki romanization was an outgrowth of that movement.
Several Japanese texts were published in rōmaji during this period, but it failed to catch on. In the early 20th century, some scholars devised syllabary systems with characters derived from Latin that were less popular since they were not based on any historical use of the Latin script. Today, the use of Nihon-shiki for writing Japanese is advocated by the Oomoto sect and some independent organizations. During the Allied occupation of Japan, the government of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers made it official policy to romanize Japanese. However, that policy failed and a more moderate attempt at Japanese script reform followed. Hepburn romanization follows English phonology with Romance vowels, it is an intuitive method of showing Anglophones the pronunciation of a word in Japanese. It was standardized in the United states as American National Standard System for the Romanization of Japanese, but that status was abolished on October 6, 1994. Hepburn is the most common romanization system in use today in the English-speaking world.
The Revised Hepburn system of romanization uses a macron to indicate some long vowels and an apostrophe to note the separation of confused phonemes. For example, the name じゅんいちろう is written with the kana characters ju-n-i-chi-ro-u, romanized as Jun'ichirō in Revised Hepburn. Without the apostrophe, it would not be possible to distinguish this correct reading from the incorrect ju-ni-chi-ro-u; this system is used in Japan and among foreign students and academics. Nihon-shiki romanization, which predates the Hepburn system, was invented as a method for Japanese to write their own language in Latin characters, rather than to transcribe it for Westerners as Hepburn was, it follows the Japanese syllabary strictly, with no adjustments for changes in pronunciation. It is therefore the only major system of romanization that allows near-lossless mapping to and from kana, it has been st
Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that originated in China during the Tang dynasty as the Chan school of Chinese Buddhism and developed into various schools. Chán Buddhism was influenced by Taoist philosophy Neo-Daoist thought. From China, Chán spread south to Vietnam and became Vietnamese Thiền, northeast to Korea to become Seon Buddhism, east to Japan, becoming Japanese Zen; the term Zen is derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the Middle Chinese word 禪, which traces its roots to the Indian practice of dhyāna. Zen emphasizes rigorous self-control, meditation-practice, insight into the nature of things, the personal expression of this insight in daily life for the benefit of others; as such, it de-emphasizes mere knowledge of sutras and doctrine and favors direct understanding through spiritual practice and interaction with an accomplished teacher. The teachings of Zen include various sources of Mahayana thought Yogachara, the Tathāgatagarbha sūtras and the Huayan school, with their emphasis on Buddha-nature and the Bodhisattva-ideal.
The Prajñāpāramitā literature as well as Madhyamaka thought have been influential in the shaping of the apophatic and sometimes iconoclastic nature of Zen rhetoric. The word Zen is derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the Middle Chinese word 禪, which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which can be translated as "absorption" or "meditative state"; the actual Chinese term for the "Zen school" is Chánzong, while "Chan" just refers to the practice of meditation itself or the study of meditation though it is used as an abbreviated form of Chánzong. The practice of dhyana or meditation sitting meditation is a central part of Zen Buddhism; the practice of Buddhist meditation first entered China through the translations of An Shigao, Kumārajīva, who both translated Dhyāna sutras, which were influential early meditation texts based on the Yogacara teachings of the Kashmiri Sarvāstivāda circa 1st-4th centuries CE. Among the most influential early Chinese meditation texts include the Anban Shouyi Jing, the Zuochan Sanmei Jing and the Damoduolo Chan Jing.
While dhyāna in a strict sense refers to the four dhyānas, in Chinese Buddhism, dhyāna may refer to various kinds of meditation techniques and their preparatory practices, which are necessary to practice dhyāna. The five main types of meditation in the Dhyāna sutras are ānāpānasmṛti. According to the modern Chan master Sheng Yen, these practices are termed the "five methods for stilling or pacifying the mind" and serve to focus and purify the mind, can lead to the dhyana absorptions. Chan shares the practice of the four foundations of mindfulness and the Three Gates of Liberation with early Buddhism and classic Mahayana. Early Chan texts teach forms of meditation that are unique to Mahayana Buddhism, for example, the Treatise on the Essentials of Cultivating the Mind which depicts the teachings of the 7th-century East Mountain school teaches a visualization of a sun disk, similar to that taught in the Sutra of the Contemplation of the Buddha Amitáyus. Chinese Buddhists developed their own meditation manuals and texts, one of the most influential being the works of the Tiantai patriarch, Zhiyi.
His works seemed to have exerted some influence on the earliest meditation manuals of the Chán school proper, an early work being the imitated and influential Tso-chan-i. During sitting meditation, practitioners assume a position such as the lotus position, half-lotus, Burmese, or seiza using the dhyāna mudrā. A square or round cushion placed on a padded mat is used to sit on. To regulate the mind, Zen students are directed towards counting breaths. Either both exhalations and inhalations are counted; the count can be up to ten, this process is repeated until the mind is calmed. Zen teachers like Omori Sogen teach a series of long and deep exhalations and inhalations as a way to prepare for regular breath meditation. Attention is placed on the energy center below the navel. Zen teachers promote diaphragmatic breathing, stating that the breath must come from the lower abdomen, that this part of the body should expand forward as one breathes. Over time the breathing should become smoother and slower.
When the counting becomes an encumbrance, the practice of following the natural rhythm of breathing with concentrated attention is recommended. Another common form of sitting meditation is called "Silent illumination"; this practice was traditionally promoted by the Caodong school of Chinese Chan and is associated with Hongzhi Zhengjue who wrote various works on the practice. This method derives from the Indian Buddhist practice of the union of śamatha and vipaśyanā. In Hongzhi's practice of "nondual objectless meditation" the mediator strives to be aware of the totality of phenomena instead of focusi
Maitreya, Metteyya, is regarded as a future Buddha of this world in Buddhist eschatology. In some Buddhist literature, such as the Amitabha Sutra and the Lotus Sutra, he is referred to as Ajita. According to Buddhist tradition, Maitreya is a bodhisattva who will appear on Earth in the future, achieve complete enlightenment, teach the pure dharma. According to scriptures, Maitreya will be a successor to Gautama Buddha; the prophecy of the arrival of Maitreya refers to a time in the future when the dharma will have been forgotten by most on the terrestrial world. Maitreya has been adopted for his millenarian role by many non-Buddhist religions in the past, such as the White Lotus, as well as by modern new religious movements, such as Yiguandao; the name Maitreya is derived from the Sanskrit word maitrī "loving-kindness", in turn derived from the noun mitra "friend". The Pali form Metteyya is mentioned in the Cakkavatti-Sīhanāda Sutta of the Pāli Canon, in chapter 28 of the Buddhavamsa. Most of the Buddha's sermons are presented as having been presented in answer to a question, or in some other appropriate context, but this sutta has a beginning and ending in which the Buddha is talking to monks about something different.
This leads scholar Richard Gombrich to conclude that either the whole sutta is apocryphal or that it has at least been tampered with. In the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara, in the first centuries CE in northern India, Maitreya was the most popular figure to be represented along with Gautama Buddha. In 4th to 6th-century China, "Buddhist artisans used the names Shakyamuni and Maitreya interchangeably... indicating both that the distinction between the two had not yet been drawn and that their respective iconographies had not yet been set". An example is the stone sculpture found in the Qingzhou cache dedicated to Maitreya in 529 CE as recorded in the inscription; the religious belief of Maitreya developed around the same time as that of Amitābha, as early as the 3rd century CE. One mention of the prophecy of Maitreya is in the Maitreyavyākaraṇa, it implies that he is a teacher of meditative trance sādhanā and states that gods and other beings: Will lose their doubts, the torrents of their cravings will be cut off: free from all misery they will manage to cross the ocean of becoming.
No longer will they regard anything as their own, they will have no possession, no gold or silver, no home, no relatives! But they will lead the holy life of oneness under Maitreya's guidance, they will have torn the net of the passions, they will manage to enter into trances, theirs will be an abundance of joy and happiness, for they will lead a holy life under Maitreya's guidance. Maitreya is pictured seated, with either both feet on the ground or crossed at the ankles, on a throne, waiting for his time, he is dressed in the clothes of either a Indian royalty. As a bodhisattva, he would be standing and dressed in jewels, he wears a small stupa in his headdress that represents the stupa with relics of Gautama Buddha to help him identify it when his turn comes to lay claim to his succession and can be holding a dharmachakra resting on a lotus. A khata is always tied around his waist as a girdle. In the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara, Maitreya is represented as a northern Indian nobleman, holding a kumbha in his left hand.
Sometimes this is a "wisdom urn". He is flanked by the brothers Asanga and Vasubandhu; the Maitreyasamiti was an extensive Buddhist play in pre-Islamic Central Asia. The Maitreyavyakarana in Central Asia and the Anagatavamsa of South India mention him. Maitreya resides in the Tuṣita Heaven, said to be reachable through meditation. Gautama Buddha lived here before he was born into the world as all bodhisattvas live in the Tuṣita Heaven before they descend to the human realm to become Buddhas. Although all bodhisattvas are destined to become Buddhas, the concept of a bodhisattva differs in Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism. In Theravada Buddhism, a bodhisattva is one, striving for full enlightenment, whereas in Mahayana Buddhism, a bodhisattva is one who has reached a advanced state of grace or enlightenment but holds back from entering nirvana so that he may help others. In Mahayana Buddhism, Buddhas preside over pure lands, such as Amitābha over Sukhavati. Once Maitreya becomes a buddha, he will rule over the Ketumati pure land, an earthly paradise sometimes associated with the city of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, India.
In Theravada Buddhism, Buddhas are born as unenlightened humans, are not rulers of any paradise or pure land. Maitreya's arising would be no different from the arising of Gautama Buddha, as he achieved full enlightenment as a human being and died, entering parinibbana. In Mahayana schools, Maitreya is traditionally said to have revealed the Five Treatises of Maitreya through Asanga; these texts are the basis of the Yogacara tradition and constitute the majority of the third turning within the Three Turnings of the Wheel of Dharma. According to Buddhist tradition, each kalpa has 1,000 Buddhas; the previous kalpa was the vyuhakalpa, the present kalpa is called the bhadrakalpa. The Seven Buddhas of Antiquity are seven Buddhas which bridge the vyuhakalpa and the bhadrakalpa: Vipassī Sikhī Vessabhū (the 1000th and final Buddha of the vyuhak
The Jingde Record of the Transmission of the Lamp
The Jingde Record of the Transmission of the Lamp referred to as The Transmission of the Lamp, is a 30 volume work consisting of putative biographies of the Chan patriarchs and other prominent Buddhist monks. It was produced in the Song dynasty by Shi Daoyuan. Other than the Anthology of the Patriarchal Hall, it represents the first appearance of "encounter dialogues" in the Chan tradition, which in turn are the antecedents of the famous kōan stories; the word Jingde, the first two characters of the title, refers to the Song dynasty reign name, which dates the work to between 1004 and 1007 CE. It is a primary source of information for the history of Chan Buddhism in China, although most scholars interpret the biographies as hagiography; the lives of the Zen masters and disciples are systematically listed, beginning with the first seven buddhas. The "Lamp" in the title refers to the teachings of the Buddhism. A total of 1701 biographies are listed in the book. Volumes 1 to 3 are devoted to the history of Indian Buddhism, the history of Buddhism in China starts in chapter 4 with Bodhidharma.
Volume 29 is a collection of gathas, volume 30 is a collection of songs and other devotional material. The complete text of the Transmission of the Lamp is available from Beijing Guoxue
Gautama Buddha known as Siddhārtha Gautama in Sanskrit or Siddhattha Gotama in Pali, Shakyamuni Buddha, or the Buddha, after the title of Buddha, was a monk, sage, philosopher and religious leader on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. He is believed to have lived and taught in the northeastern part of ancient India sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. Gautama taught a Middle Way between sensual indulgence and the severe asceticism found in the śramaṇa movement common in his region, he taught throughout other regions of eastern India such as Magadha and Kosala. Gautama is the primary figure in Buddhism, he is believed by Buddhists to be an enlightened teacher who attained full Buddhahood and shared his insights to help sentient beings end rebirth and suffering. Accounts of his life and monastic rules are believed by Buddhists to have been summarised after his death and memorized by his followers. Various collections of teachings attributed to him were passed down by oral tradition and first committed to writing about 400 years later.
Scholars are hesitant to make unqualified claims about the historical facts of the Buddha's life. Most people accept that the Buddha lived and founded a monastic order during the Mahajanapada era during the reign of Bimbisara, the ruler of the Magadha empire, died during the early years of the reign of Ajatasatru, the successor of Bimbisara, thus making him a younger contemporary of Mahavira, the Jain tirthankara. While the general sequence of "birth, renunciation, search and liberation, death" is accepted, there is less consensus on the veracity of many details contained in traditional biographies; the times of Gautama's birth and death are uncertain. Most historians in the early 20th century dated his lifetime as c. 563 BCE to 483 BCE. More his death is dated between 411 and 400 BCE, while at a symposium on this question held in 1988, the majority of those who presented definite opinions gave dates within 20 years either side of 400 BCE for the Buddha's death; these alternative chronologies, have not been accepted by all historians.
The evidence of the early texts suggests that Siddhārtha Gautama was born into the Shakya clan, a community, on the periphery, both geographically and culturally, of the eastern Indian subcontinent in the 5th century BCE. One of his usual names was "Sakamuni" or "Sakyamunī", it was either a small republic, or an oligarchy, his father was an elected chieftain, or oligarch. According to the Buddhist tradition, Gautama was born in Lumbini, now in modern-day Nepal, raised in the Shakya capital of Kapilvastu, which may have been either in what is present day Tilaurakot, Nepal or Piprahwa, India. According to Buddhist tradition, he obtained his enlightenment in Bodh Gaya, gave his first sermon in Sarnath, died in Kushinagar. Apart from the Vedic Brahmins, the Buddha's lifetime coincided with the flourishing of influential Śramaṇa schools of thought like Ājīvika, Cārvāka, Ajñana. Brahmajala Sutta records sixty-two such schools of thought. In this context, a śramaṇa refers to one who toils, or exerts themselves.
It was the age of influential thinkers like Mahavira, Pūraṇa Kassapa, Makkhali Gosāla, Ajita Kesakambalī, Pakudha Kaccāyana, Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta, as recorded in Samaññaphala Sutta, whose viewpoints the Buddha most must have been acquainted with. Indeed and Moggallāna, two of the foremost disciples of the Buddha, were the foremost disciples of Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta, the sceptic. There is philological evidence to suggest that the two masters, Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, were indeed historical figures and they most taught Buddha two different forms of meditative techniques. Thus, Buddha was just one of the many śramaṇa philosophers of that time. In an era where holiness of person was judged by their level of asceticism, Buddha was a reformist within the śramaṇa movement, rather than a reactionary against Vedic Brahminism; the life of the Buddha coincided with the Achaemenid conquest of the Indus Valley during the rule of Darius I from about 517/516 BCE. This Achaemenid occupation of the areas of Gandhara and Sindh, to last for about two centuries, was accompanied by the introduction of Achaemenid religions, reformed Mazdaism or early Zoroastrianism, to which Buddhism might have in part reacted.
In particular, the ideas of the Buddha may have consisted of a rejection of the "absolutist" or "perfectionist" ideas contained in these Achaemenid religions. No written records about Gautama were found from his lifetime or from the one or two centuries thereafter. In the middle of the 3rd century BCE, several Edicts of Ashoka mention the Buddha, Ashoka's Rummindei Minor Pillar Edict commemorates the Emperor's pilgrimage to Lumbini as the Buddha's birthplace. Another one of his edicts mentions the titles of several Dhamma texts, establishing the existence of a written Buddhist tradition at least by the time of the Maurya era; these texts may be the precursor of the Pāli Canon. "Sakamuni" in mentioned in the reliefs of Bharhut, dated to circa 100 BCE, in relation with his illumination and the Bodhi tree, with the inscription Bhagavato Sakamunino Bodho. The oldest surviving Buddhist manuscripts are the Gandhāran Buddhist texts, repor