The five precepts or five rules of training is the most important system of morality for Buddhist lay people. They constitute the basic code of ethics undertaken by lay followers of Buddhism; the precepts are commitments to abstain from killing living beings, sexual misconduct and intoxication. Within the Buddhist doctrine, they are meant to develop mind and character to make progress on the path to enlightenment, they are sometimes referred to as the śrāvakayāna precepts in the Mahāyāna tradition, contrasting them with the bodhisattva precepts. The five precepts form the basis of several parts of Buddhist doctrine, both monastic. With regard to their fundamental role in Buddhist ethics, they have been compared with the ten commandments in Christianity or the ethical codes of Confucianism; the precepts have been connected with utilitarianist and virtue approaches to ethics. They have been compared with human rights because of their universal nature, some scholars argue they can complement the concept of human rights.
The five precepts were common to the religious milieu of 6th-century BCE India, but the Buddha's focus on awareness through the fifth precept was unique. As shown in Early Buddhist Texts, the precepts grew to be more important, became a condition for membership of the Buddhist religion; when Buddhism spread to different places and people, the role of the precepts began to vary. In countries where Buddhism had to compete with other religions, such as China, the ritual of undertaking the five precepts developed into an initiation ceremony to become a Buddhist lay person. On the other hand, in countries with little competition from other religions, such as Thailand, the ceremony has had little relation to the rite of becoming Buddhist, as many people are presumed Buddhist from birth. Undertaking and upholding the five precepts is based on the principle of non-harming; the Pali Canon recommends one to compare oneself with others, on the basis of that, not to hurt others. Compassion and a belief in karmic retribution form the foundation of the precepts.
Undertaking the five precepts is part of regular lay devotional practice, both at home and at the local temple. However, the extent to which people keep them differs per time. People keep them with an intention to develop themselves, but out of fear of a bad rebirth; the first precept consists of a prohibition of both humans and all animals. Scholars have interpreted Buddhist texts about the precepts as an opposition to and prohibition of capital punishment, suicide and euthanasia. In practice, many Buddhist countries still use the death penalty. With regard to abortion, Buddhist countries take the middle ground, by condemning though not prohibiting it; the Buddhist attitude to violence is interpreted as opposing all warfare, but some scholars have raised exceptions. The second precept prohibits theft; the third precept refers to adultery in all its forms, has been defined by modern teachers with terms such as sexual responsibility and long-term commitment. The fourth precept involves falsehood spoken or committed to by action, as well as malicious speech, harsh speech and gossip.
The fifth precept prohibits intoxication through drugs or other means. Early Buddhist Texts nearly always condemn alcohol, so do Chinese Buddhist post-canonical texts. Buddhist attitudes toward smoking differ per time and region, but are permissive. In modern times, traditional Buddhist countries have seen revival movements to promote the five precepts; as for the West, the precepts play a major role in Buddhist organizations. They have been integrated in mindfulness training programs, though many mindfulness specialists do not support this because of the precepts' religious import. Lastly, many conflict prevention programs make use of the precepts. Buddhist scriptures explain the five precepts as the minimal standard of Buddhist morality, it is the most important system of morality in Buddhism, together with the monastic rules. Śīla is used to refer to Buddhist precepts, including the five. But the word refers to the virtue and morality which lies at the foundation of the spiritual path to enlightenment, the first of the three forms of training on the path.
Thus, the precepts are rules or guidelines to develop mind and character to make progress on the path to enlightenment. The five precepts are part of the right speech and livelihood aspects of the eight-fold path, the core teaching of Buddhism. Moreover, the practice of the five precepts and other parts of śīla are described as forms of merit-making, means to create good karma; the five precepts have been described as social values that bring harmony to society, breaches of the precepts described as antithetical to a harmonious society. On a similar note, in Buddhist texts, the ideal, righteous society is one in which people keep the five precepts. Comparing different parts of Buddhist doctrine, the five precepts form the basis of the eight precepts, which are lay precepts stricter than the five precepts, similar to monastic precepts. Secondly, the five precepts form the first half of the ten or eleven precepts for a person aiming to become a Buddha, as mentioned in the Brahmajala Sūtra of the Mahāyāna tradition.
Contrasting these precepts with the five precepts, the latter were referred to by Mahāyānists as the śrāvakayāna precepts, or the precepts of those aiming to become enlightened disciples of a Buddha, but not Buddhas themselves. The ten–eleven bodhisattva precepts presuppose the five precepts, are based on them; the five
In Buddhism, a Bodhisattva is any person, on the path towards Buddhahood but has not yet attained it. In the Early Buddhist schools as well as modern Theravada Buddhism, a bodhisattva refers to anyone who has made a resolution to become a Buddha and has received a confirmation or prediction from a living Buddha that this will be so. In Mahayana Buddhism, a bodhisattva refers to anyone who has generated bodhicitta, a spontaneous wish and compassionate mind to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings. In early Buddhism, the term bodhisatta is used in the early texts to refer to Gautama Buddha in his previous lives and as a young man in his current life in the period during which he was working towards his own liberation. During his discourses, to recount his experiences as a young aspirant he uses the phrase "When I was an unenlightened bodhisatta..." The term therefore connotes a being, "bound for enlightenment", in other words, a person whose aim is to become enlightened. In the Pāli canon, the bodhisatta is described as someone, still subject to birth, death, sorrow and delusion.
Some of the previous lives of the Buddha as a bodhisattva are featured in the Jataka tales. According to the Theravāda monk Bhikkhu Bodhi, the bodhisattva path is not taught in the earliest strata of Buddhist texts such as the Pali Nikayas which instead focus on the ideal of the Arahant; the oldest known story about how Gautama Buddha becomes a bodhisattva is the story of his encounter with the previous Buddha, Dīpankara. During this encounter, a previous incarnation of Gautama, variously named Sumedha, Megha, or Sumati offers five blue lotuses and spreads out his hair or entire body for Dīpankara to walk on, resolving to one day become a Buddha. Dīpankara confirms that they will attain Buddhahood. Early Buddhist authors saw this story as indicating that the making of a resolution in the presence of a living Buddha and his prediction/confirmation of one's future Buddhahood was necessary to become a bodhisattva. According to Drewes, "all known models of the path to Buddhahood developed from this basic understanding."The path is explained differently by the various Nikaya schools.
In the Theravāda Buddhavaṃsa, after receiving the prediction, Gautama took four asaṃkheyyas and a hundred thousand, shorter kalpas to reach Buddhahood. The Sarvāstivāda school had similar models about, they held it took him three asaṃkhyeyas and ninety one kalpas to become a Buddha after his resolution in front of a past Buddha. During the first asaṃkhyeya he is said to have encountered and served 75,000 Buddhas, 76,000 in the second, after which he received his first prediction of future Buddhahood from Dīpankara, meaning that he could no longer fall back from the path to Buddhahood. Thus, the presence of a living Buddha is necessary for Sarvāstivāda; the Mahāvibhāṣā explains that its discussion of the bodhisattva path is meant to “stop those who are in fact not bodhisattvas from giving rise to the self-conceit that they are.”The Mahāvastu of the Mahāsāṃghika-Lokottaravādins presents four stages of the bodhisattva path without giving specific time frames: Natural, one first plants the roots of merit in front of a Buddha to attain Buddhahood.
Resolution, one makes their first resolution to attain Buddhahood in the presence of a Buddha. Continuing, one continues to practice. Irreversible, at this stage, one cannot fall back; the Sri Lankan commentator Dhammapala in his commentary on the Cariyāpiṭaka, a text which focuses on the bodhisatta path, notes that to become a bodhisatta one must make a valid resolution in front of a living Buddha, which confirms that one is “irreversible” from the attainment of Buddhahood. The Nidānakathā, as well as the Buddhavaṃsa and Cariyāpiṭaka commentaries makes this explicit by stating that one cannot use a substitute for the presence of a living Buddha, since only a Buddha has the knowledge for making a reliable prediction; this is the accepted view maintained in orthodox Theravada today. The idea is that any resolution to attain Buddhahood may be forgotten or abandoned during the aeons ahead; the Burmese monk Ledi Sayadaw explains that though it is easy to make vows for future Buddhahood by oneself, it is difficult to maintain the necessary conduct and views during periods when the Dharma has disappeared from the world.
One will fall back during such periods and this is why one is not a full bodhisatta until one receives recognition from a living Buddha. Because of this, it was and remains a common practice in Theravada to attempt to establish the necessary conditions to meet the future Buddha Maitreya and thus receive a prediction from him. Medieval Theravada literature and inscriptions report the aspirations of monks and ministers to meet Maitreya for this purpose. Modern figures such as Anagarika Dharmapala, U Nu both sought to receive a prediction from a Buddha in the future and believed meritorious actions done for the good of Buddhism would help in their endeavor to become bodhisattas in the future. Over time the term came to be applied to other figures besides Gautama Buddha in Theravada lands due to the influence of Mahayana; the Theravada Abhayagiri tradition of Sri Lanka practiced Mahayana Buddhism and was influential until the 12th century. Kings of Sri Lanka
Nirvana is the earliest and most common term used to describe the goal of the Buddhist path. The literal meaning is "blowing out" or "quenching." It is the ultimate spiritual goal in Buddhism and marks the soteriological release from rebirths in saṃsāra. Nirvana is part of the Third Truth on "cessation of dukkha" in the Four Noble Truths, the summum bonum destination of the Noble Eightfold Path. Within the Buddhist tradition, this term has been interpreted as the extinction of the "three fires", or "three poisons", passion and ignorance; when these fires are extinguished, release from the cycle of rebirth is attained. Nirvana has been deemed in Buddhism to be identical with anatta and sunyata states. In time, with the development of Buddhist doctrine, other interpretations were given, such as the absence of the weaving of activity of the mind, the elimination of desire, escape from the woods, cq. the five skandhas or aggregates. Buddhist scholastic tradition identifies two types of nirvana: sopadhishesa-nirvana, parinirvana or anupadhishesa-nirvana.
The founder of Buddhism, the Buddha, is believed to have reached both these states. Nirvana, or the liberation from cycles of rebirth, is the highest aim of the Theravada tradition. In the Mahayana tradition, the highest goal is Buddhahood, in which there is no abiding in Nirvana, but a Buddha continues to take rebirths in the world to help liberate beings from saṃsāra by teaching the Buddhist path; the term nirvana describes a state of freedom from suffering and rebirth, but different Buddhist traditions have interpreted the concept in different ways. The origin is pre-Buddhist, its etymology may not be conclusive for its meaning; the term was a more or less central concept among the Jains, the Ajivikas, the Buddhists, certain Hindu traditions, it may have been imported into Buddhism with much of its semantic range from other sramanic movements. Nirvana has a wide range of meanings, although the literal meaning is "blowing out" or "quenching", it refers both to the act and the effect of blowing to put it out, but the process and outcome of burning out, becoming extinguished.
The term nirvana in the soteriological sense of "blown out, extinguished" state of liberation does not appear in the Vedas nor in the pre-Buddhist Upanishads. According to Collins, "the Buddhists seem to have been the first to call it nirvana." However, the ideas of spiritual liberation using different terminology, is found in ancient texts of non-Buddhist Indian traditions, such as in verse 4.4.6 of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad of Hinduism. The prevalent interpretation of nirvana as "extinction" is based on the etymology of nir√vā to "blow out". Nir is a negative, while va is taken to refer to "to blow"; the term nirvana is part of an extensive metaphorical structure, established at a early age in Buddhism. According to Gombrich, the number of three fires alludes to the three fires which a Brahmin had to keep alight, thereby symbolise life in the world, as a family-man; the meaning of this metaphor was lost in Buddhism, other explanations of the word nirvana were sought. Not only passion and delusion were to be extinguished, but all cankers or defilements.
Exegetical works developed a whole new set of folk etymological definitions of the word nirvana, using the root vana to refer to "to blow", but re-parsing the word to roots that mean "weaving, sewing", "desire" and "forest or woods": vâna, derived from the root word √vā which means "to blow": blow. Vāna, derived from the root word vana which means "woods, forest":based on this root, vana has been metaphorically explained by Buddhist scholars as referring to the "forest of defilements", or the five aggregates; the "blowing out" does not mean total annihilation, but the extinguishing of a flame, which returns, exists in another way. The term nirvana can be used as a verb: "he or she nirvāṇa-s," or "he or she parinirvānṇa-s"; the term nirvana, "to blow out", has been interpreted as the extinction of the "three fires", or "three poisons", namely of passion or sensuality, aversion or hate and of delusion or ignorance. Another explanation of nirvana is the absence of the weaving of activity of the mind.
Author Paul Swanson states that some contemporary Buddhism scholars have questioned the above etymologies and whether these are consistent with the core doctrines of Buddhism about anatman and pratityasamutpada. Matsumoto Shirō, for example, states that the original etymological root of nirvana should not be considered as nir√vā which means "extinction", but should be considered to be nir√vŗ, to "uncover"; the problem with considering it as extinction or liberation, is that it presupposes a "self" to be extinguished or liberated. According to Matsumoto, the original meaning of nirvana was therefore not "to extinguish" but "to uncover" the atman from that, anatman. Other Buddhist scholars such as Takasaki Jikidō disagree, states S
Decline of Buddhism in the Indian subcontinent
The decline of Buddhism in the Indian subcontinent refers to a gradual process of dwindling and replacement of Buddhism in India, which ended around the 12th century. According to Lars Fogelin, this was "with a singular cause. Another factor were invasions of north India by various groups such as Huns, Turco-mongols and Persians and subsequent destruction of Buddhist institutions such as Nalanda and religious persecutions. Religious competition with Hinduism and Islam were important factors; the total Buddhist population in 2010 in the Indian subcontinent – excluding that of Sri Lanka and Bhutan – was about 10 million, of which about 7.2% lived in Bangladesh, 92.5% in India and 0.2% in Pakistan. Buddhism expanded in the Indian subcontinent in the centuries after the death of the Buddha after receiving the endorsement and royal support of the Maurya Empire under Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE, it spread beyond the Indian subcontinent to Central Asia and China. The Buddha's period saw not only urbanisation, but the beginnings of centralised states.
The successful expansion of Buddhism depended on the growing economy of the time, together with increased centralised political organisation capable of change. Buddhism spread across ancient India and state support by various regional regimes continued through the 1st-millennium BCE; the consolidation of monastic organisation made Buddhism the centre of religious and intellectual life in India. Pushyamitra, the first ruler of the Shunga Dynasty built great Buddhist stupas at Sanchi in 188 BCE; the succeeding Kanva Dynasty had four Buddhist Kanva Kings. During the Gupta dynasty, Mahayana Buddhism turned more ritualistic, while Buddhist ideas were adopted into Hindu schools; the differences between Buddhism and Hinduism blurred, Vaishnavism and other Hindu traditions became popular, while Brahmins developed a new relationship with the state. As the system grew, Buddhist monasteries lost control of land revenue. In parallel, the Gupta kings built Buddhist temples such as the one at Kushinagara, monastic universities such as those at Nalanda, as evidenced by records left by three Chinese visitors to India.
Chinese scholars traveling through the region between the 5th and 8th centuries, such as Faxian, Yijing, Hui-sheng, Sung-Yun, began to speak of a decline of the Buddhist Sangha in the Northwestern parts of Indian subcontinent in the wake of the Hun invasion from central Asia in the 6th century CE. Xuanzang wrote that numerous monasteries in north-western India had been reduced to ruins by the Huns; the Hun ruler Mihirakula, who ruled from 515 CE in north-western region, suppressed Buddhism as well. He did this by destroying monasteries as far away as modern-day Allahabad. Yashodharman and Gupta Empire rulers, in and after about 532 CE, reversed Mihirakula's campaign and ended the Mihirakula era. According to Peter Harvey, the religion recovered from these invasions during the 7th century, with the "Buddhism of southern Pakistan remaining strong." The reign of the Pala Dynasty saw Buddhism in North India recover due to royal support from the Palas who supported various Buddhist centers like Nalanda.
By the eleventh century, Pala rule had weakened however. The regionalisation of India after the end of the Gupta Empire led to the loss of patronage and donations; the prevailing view of decline of Buddhism in India is summed by A. L. Basham's classic study which argues that the main cause was the rise of a reformed religion, "Hinduism", which focused on the worship of deities like Shiva and Vishnu and became more popular among the common people while Buddhism, being focused on monastery life, had become disconnected from public life and its life rituals, which were all left to Hindu Brahmins; the growth of new forms of Hinduism was a key element in the decline in Buddhism in India in terms of diminishing financial support to Buddhist monasteries from laity and royalty. According to Hazra, Buddhism declined in part because of the rise of the Brahmins and their influence in socio-political process; the disintegration of central power led to regionalisation of religiosity, religious rivalry. Rural and devotional movements arose within Hinduism, along with Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Tantra, that competed with each other, as well as with numerous sects of Buddhism and Jainism.
This fragmentation of power into feudal kingdoms was detrimental for Buddhism, as royal support shifted towards other communities and Brahmins developed a strong relationship with Indian states. Over time the new Indian dynasties which arose after the 7th and 8th centuries tended to support the Brahmanical ideology and Hinduism, this conversion proved decisive; these new dynasties, all of which supported Brahmanical Hinduism, include "the Karkotas and Pratiharas of the north, the Rashtrakutas of the Deccan, the Pandyas and Pallavas of the south". One of the reasons of this conversion was that the brahmins were willing and able to aid in local administration, they provided councillors and clerical staff. Moreover, brahmins had clear ideas about society and statecraft and could be more pragmatic than the Buddhists, whose religion was based on monastic renunci
The most important places of pilgrimage in Buddhism are located in the Gangetic plains of Northern India and Southern Nepal, in the area between New Delhi and Rajgir. This is the area where Gautama Buddha lived and taught, the main sites connected to his life are now important places of pilgrimage for both Buddhists and Hindus. However, many countries that are or were predominantly Buddhist have shrines and places which can be visited as a pilgrimage. Gautama Buddha is said to have identified four sites most worthy of pilgrimage for his followers, saying that they would produce a feeling of spiritual urgency; these are: Bodh Gaya:, is the most important religious site and place of pilgrimage, the Mahabodhi Temple houses what is believed to be the Bodhi Tree where the Buddha realized enlightenment and Buddhahood. Lumbini: birthplace of Gautama Buddha Sarnath: where Gautama Buddha delivered his first teaching. Kuśinagara: where Gautama Buddha died and attained Parinirvana. In the commentarial tradition, four other sites are raised to a special status because Buddha had performed a certain miracle there.
These four places through the inclusion in this list of commentarial origin, became important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in ancient India, as the Attha-mahathanani. It is important to note, that some of these events do not occur in the Tipitaka are thus purely commentarial; the first four of the Eight Great Places are identical to the places mentioned by the Buddha: Lumbini Bodh Gaya Sarnath Kushinagar The last four are places where a certain miraculous event is reported to have occurred: Sravasti: Place of the Twin Miracle, showing his supernatural abilities in performance of miracles. Sravasti is the place where Buddha spent the largest amount of time, being a major city in ancient India. Rajgir: Place of the subduing of Nalagiri, the angry elephant, through friendliness. Rajgir was another major city of ancient India. Sankassa: Place of the descending to earth from Tusita heaven. Vaishali: Place of receiving an offering of honey from a monkey. Vaishali was the capital of the Vajjian Republic of ancient India.
Some other pilgrimage places in India and Nepal connected to the life of Gautama Buddha are: Pataliputta, Vikramshila, Kapilavastu, Amaravati, Nagarjuna Konda, Varanasi, Devadaha and Mathura. Most of these places are located in the Gangetic plain. Other famous places for Buddhist pilgrimage in various countries include: Cambodia: Angkor Thom, Silver Pagoda, Angkor Wat China: Yungang Grottoes, Longmen Grottoes; the Four Sacred Mountains namely Wǔtái Shān, Éméi Shān, Jiǔhuá Shān, Pǔtuó Shān Tibet: Potala Palace, Mount Kailash, Lake Manasarovar, Lake Nam-tso. India: Sanchi, Ellora, Ajanta see Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India Indonesia: Borobudur, Sewu. Japan: Kyoto, Shikoku Pilgrimage, Kansai Kannon Pilgrimage Laos: Luang Prabang. Malaysia: Kek Lok Si, Cheng Hoon Teng, Maha Vihara Myanmar: Bagan, Sagaing Hill, Mandalay Hill, Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, Shwedagon Pagoda. Nepal: Boudhanath, Kapilavastu. Pakistan: Taxila, Swat. Sri Lanka: Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, the Temple of the Tooth, Sri Pada. South Korea: Bulguksa, Three Jewel Temples Thailand: Phra Phutthabat District, Ayutthaya, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Doi Suthep, Phra Pathom Chedi, Phra Buddha Chinnarat.
United States of America: City of Ten Thousand Buddhas - Largest Monastery-Nunnery in USA in terms of numbers of ordained monastic Bhikshus and Bhikshunis. First full ordination on American soil. Garden of 1000 Buddhas, with beautiful statuary and gardens, near Talmage, California. Vietnam: Mount Yen Tu Virtual Tour of Buddhist Pilgrimage Sites on Google Map Buddhist Pilgrimage Buddhist Pilgrimage in India and Sri Lanka "Buddhist Pilgrimage". Asia. Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 2011-04-03
Chinese Buddhist canon
The Chinese Buddhist Canon refers to the total body of Buddhist literature deemed canonical in Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese Buddhism. The traditional term for the canon." The Chinese Buddhist canon includes Āgama and Abhidharma texts from Early Buddhist schools, as well as the Mahāyāna sūtras and scriptures from Esoteric Buddhism. There are many versions of the canon in East Asia in different places and time. An early version is the Fangshan Stone Sutras from the 7th century; the earlier Lung Tripitaka, Jiaxing Tripitaka, Zhaocheng Jin Tripitaka are still extant in printed form. The complete woodblocks are the Chenlong Tripitaka; the Tripiṭaka Koreana or Palman Daejanggyeong was carved between 1236 and 1251, during Korea's Goryeo Dynasty, onto 81,340 wooden printing blocks with no known errors in the 52,382,960 characters. It is stored at South Korea. One of the most used version is Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō. Named after the Taishō era, a modern standardized edition published in Tokyo between 1924 and 1934 in 100 volumes.
It is one of the most punctuated tripitaka. The Xuzangjing version, a supplement of another version of the canon, is used as a supplement for Buddhist texts not collected in the Taishō Tripiṭaka; the Jiaxing Tripitaka is a supplement for Ming dynasty and Qing dynasty Buddhist texts not collected, a Dazangjing Bu Bian published in 1986 are supplements of them. The Chinese Manuscripts in the Tripitaka Sinica, a new collection of canonical texts, was published by Zhonghua Book Company in Beijing in 1983-97, with 107 volumes of literature, are photocopies of early versions and include many newly unearthed scriptures from Dunhuang. There are newer. Written in Classical Chinese; the Mi Tripitaka is the Tangut canon. Eric Grinstead published a collection of Tangut Buddhist texts under the title The Tangut Tripitaka in 1971 in New Delhi; the Taishō edition contains classical Japanese works. The Dunhuang edition contains some works in old Western Regions languages; the Tripitaka Sinica mentioned above features a Tibetan section.
A number of apocryphal sutras composed in China are excluded in the earlier canons, such as composed stories the Journey to the West and Chinese folk religion texts, High King Avalokiteshvara Sutra. Modern religious and scholarly works are excluded but they are published in other book series. Pali Canon Sanskrit Buddhist literature Tibetan Buddhist canon
History of Buddhism
The history of Buddism spans from the 5th century BCE to the present. Buddhism arose in the eastern part of Ancient India, in and around the ancient Kingdom of Magadha, is based on the teachings of Siddhārtha Gautama; this makes it one of the oldest religions practiced today. The religion evolved as it spread from the northeastern region of the Indian subcontinent through Central and Southeast Asia. At one time or another, it influenced most of the Asian continent; the history of Buddhism is characterized by the development of numerous movements and schools, among them the Theravāda, Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna traditions, with contrasting periods of expansion and retreat. Siddhārtha Gautama was the historical founder of Buddhism; the early sources state he was born in the small Shakya Republic, part of the Kosala realm of ancient India, now in modern-day Nepal. He is thus known as the Shakyamuni; the republic was ruled by a council of household heads, Gautama was born to one of these elites, so that he described himself as a Kshatriya when talking to Brahmins.
The Early Buddhist Texts contain no continuous life of the Buddha, only after 200 BCE were various "biographies" with much mythological embellishment written. All texts agree however that Gautama renounced the householder life and lived as a sramana ascetic for some time studying under various teachers, before attaining nirvana and bodhi through meditation. For the remaining 45 years of his life, he traveled the Gangetic Plain of central India, teaching his doctrine to a diverse range of people from different castes and initiating monks into his order; the Buddha sent his disciples to spread the teaching across India. He initiated an order of nuns, he urged his disciples to teach in dialects. He spent a lot of his time near the cities of Sāvatthī, Rājagaha and Vesālī. By the time of his death at 80, he had thousands of followers; the years following the death of the Buddha saw the emergence of many movements during the next 400 years: first the schools of Nikaya Buddhism, of which only Theravada remains today, the formation of Mahayana and Vajrayana, pan-Buddhist sects based on the acceptance of new scriptures and the revision of older techniques.
Followers of Buddhism, called Buddhists in English, referred to themselves as Sakyan-s or Sakyabhiksu in ancient India. Buddhist scholar Donald S. Lopez asserts they used the term Bauddha, although scholar Richard Cohen asserts that that term was used only by outsiders to describe Buddhists. After the death of the Buddha, the Buddhist sangha remained centered on the Ganges valley, spreading from its ancient heartland; the canonical sources record various councils, where the monastic Sangha recited and organized the orally transmitted collections of the Buddha's teachings and settled certain disciplinary problems within the community. Modern scholarship has questioned the historicity of these traditional accounts; the first Buddhist council is traditionally said to have been held just after Buddha's Parinirvana, presided over by Mahākāśyapa, one of His most senior disciples, at Rājagṛha with the support of king Ajāthaśatru. According to Charles Prebish all scholars have questioned the historicity of this first council.
Over time, these two monastic fraternities would further divide into various Early Buddhist Schools. The Sthaviras gave birth to a large number of influential schools including the Sarvāstivāda, the Pudgalavāda, the Dharmaguptakas and the Vibhajyavāda; the Mahasamghikas meanwhile developed their own schools and doctrines early on, which can be seen in texts like the Mahavastu, associated with the Lokottaravāda, or ‘Transcendentalist’ school, who might be the same as the Ekavyāvahārikas or "One-utterancers". This school has been seen as foreshadowing certain Mahayana ideas due to their view that all of Gautama Buddha's acts were "transcendental" or "supramundane" those performed before his Buddhahood. In the third century BCE, some Buddhists began introducing new systematized teachings called Abhidharma, based on previous lists or tables of main doctrinal topics. Unlike the Nikayas, which were prose sutras or discourses, the Abhidharma literature consisted of systematic doctrinal exposition and differed across the Buddhist schools who disagreed on points of doctrine.
Abhidharma sought to analyze all experience into its ultimate constituents, phenomenal events or processes called dharmas. During the reign of the Mauryan Emperor Aśoka, Buddhism gained royal support and began to spread more reaching most of the Indian subcontinent. After his invasion of Kalinga, Aśoka seems to have experienced remorse and began working to improve the lives of his subjects. Aśoka built wells, rest-houses and hospitals for humans and animals, he abolished torture, royal hunting trips and even the death penalty. Aśoka supported non-Buddhist faiths like Jainism and Brahmanism. Aśoka propagated religion by building stupas and pillars urging, among other things, respect of all animal life and enjoining people to follow the Dharma, he has been hailed by Buddhist sources as the model for the compassionate chakravartin. Another feature of Mauryan Buddhism was the worship and veneration of stupas, large mounds which contained relics of the Buddha or other saints within, it was believed that the practice of devotion to these relics and stupas could bring blessings