Theravada Buddhism defines arhat as one who has gained insight into the true nature of existence and has achieved nirvana. Other Buddhist traditions have used the term for people far advanced along the path of Enlightenment, but who may not have reached full Buddhahood; the understanding of the concept has changed over the centuries, varies between different schools of Buddhism and different regions. A range of views on the attainment of arhats existed in the early Buddhist schools; the Sarvāstivāda, Kāśyapīya, Mahāsāṃghika, Ekavyāvahārika, Lokottaravāda, Bahuśrutīya, Prajñaptivāda, Caitika schools all regarded arhats as imperfect in their attainments compared to buddhas. Mahayana Buddhist teachings urge followers to take up the path of a bodhisattva, to not fall back to the level of arhats and śrāvakas; the arhats, or at least the senior arhats, came to be regarded as "moving beyond the state of personal freedom to join the Bodhisattva enterprise in their own way". Mahayana Buddhism regarded a group of Eighteen Arhats as awaiting the return of the Buddha as Maitreya, other groupings of 6, 8, 16, 100, 500 appear in tradition and Buddhist art in East Asia.
They can be seen as the Buddhist equivalents of the Christian saints, apostles or early disciples and leaders of the faith. Pāḷi arahant is a present participle coming from the verbal root √arh "to deserve", cf. arha "meriting, deserving". The word is used in the Ṛgveda with this sense of "deserving". A common folk etymology derives the word from ari and hanta from the root √han "to strike, to kill". Professor Richard Gombrich has argued that the present participle is "jarring" and seems out of place when there is an adjective from the same root. Since Jains used two Prakrit forms of the word arahanta and arihanta, the folk etymology may well be the correct etymology. Gombrich argues that this stems from the same metaphor as the Jain title jina "conqueror", whence jaina "related to the conqueror", i.e. Jainism; the term arhat is rendered in English as arahat. The term arhat was transliterated into some East Asian languages phonetically, for example, the Chinese āluóhàn shortened to luóhàn; this may appear in English as lohan.
In Japanese the pronunciation of the same Chinese characters is arakan. The Tibetan term for arhat was translated by meaning from Sanskrit; this translation, dgra bcom pa, means "one who has destroyed the foes of afflictions". Thus the Tibetan translators understood the meaning of arhat to be ari-hanta. A range of views on the attainment of arhats existed in the early Buddhist schools; the Sarvāstivāda, Kāśyapīya, Mahāsāṃghika, Ekavyāvahārika, Lokottaravāda, Bahuśrutīya, Prajñaptivāda and Caitika schools all regarded arhats as being imperfect in their attainments compared to buddhas. The Dharmaguptaka sect believed that "the Buddha and those of the Two Vehicles, although they have one and the same liberation, have followed different noble paths."The Mahīśāsaka and the Theravada regarded arhats and buddhas as being similar to one another. The 5th century Theravadin commentator Buddhaghosa regarded arhats as having completed the path to enlightenment. According to Bhikkhu Bodhi, the Pāli Canon portrays the Buddha declaring himself to be an arahant.
According to Bhikkhu Bodhi, nirvāṇa is "the ultimate goal", one who has attained nirvana has attained arahantship: Bhikkhu Bodhi writes, "The defining mark of an arahant is the attainment of nirvāṇa in this present life."The Mahayana discerned a hierarchy of attainments, with samyaksambuddhas at the top, mahāsattvas below that, pratyekabuddhas below that and arhats further below. "But what was it that distinguished the bodhisattva from the sravaka, the buddha from the arhat? The difference lay, more than anywhere else, in the altruistic orientation of the bodhisattva." In pre-Buddhist India, the term arhat, denoting a saintly person in general, was associated with miraculous power and asceticism. The Buddhists drew a sharp distinction between their Arhat and Indian holy men in general, in Buddhism these miraculous powers were no longer central to arhat identity or to his mission. A range of views on the relative perfection of arhats existed amongst the early Buddhist schools. In general, Mahāsāṃghikas such as the Ekavyāvahārikas, Lokottaravādins, Bahuśrutīyins, Prajñaptivādins, Caitikas schools, advocated the transcendental and supramundane nature of the buddhas and bodhisattvas and the fallibility of arhats.
The Caitikas, for example, advocated the ideal of the bodhisattva over that of the arhat, they viewed arhats as being fallible and still subject to ignorance. According to A. K. Warder, the Sarvāstivādins held the same position as the Mahāsāṃghika branch regarding arhats, considering them to be imperfect and fallible. In the Sarvāstivādin Nāgadatta Sūtra, the demon Māra takes the form of Nāgadatta's father, tries to convince Nāgadatta, a bhikṣuṇī, to work toward the lower stage of arhatship rather than striving to become a enlightened buddha. Māra therefore took the disguise of Nāgadatta's father and said thus to Nāgadatta: "Your thought is too serious. Buddhahood is too difficult to attain, it takes a hundred thousand nayutas of koṭis of kalpas to become a Buddha. Since few people attain Buddhahood in this world, why don't you attain Arhatship? For the experience of Arhatship is the same as that of nirvāṇa. In her reply, Nāgadatta rejects arhatship as a lower path, saying, "A Buddha's wisdom is l
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
Tibetan Buddhist canon
The Tibetan Buddhist canon is a loosely defined list of sacred texts recognized by various sects of Tibetan Buddhism. In addition to sutrayana texts from Early Buddhist and Mahayana sources, the Tibetan canon includes tantric texts; the Tibetan Canon underwent a final compilation in the 14th century by Buton Rinchen Drub. The Tibetans did not have a formally arranged Mahayana canon and so devised their own scheme which divided texts into two broad categories: Kangyur or "Translated Words or Vacana", consists of works supposed to have been said by the Buddha himself. All texts have a Sanskrit original, although in many cases the Tibetan text was translated from Chinese or other languages. Tengyur or "Translated Treatises or Shastras", is the section to which were assigned commentaries and abhidharma works; the Tengyur contains 3626 texts in 224 Volumes. The Kangyur is divided into sections on Vinaya, Perfection of Wisdom Sutras, Avatamsaka and other sutras, tantras; when the term Kangyur was first used is not known.
Collections of canonical Buddhist texts existed in the time of Trisong Detsen, the sixth king of Tibet. The exact number of texts in the Kangyur is not fixed; each editor takes responsibility for removing texts he considers spurious or adding new translations. There are about 12 available Kangyurs; these include the Derge, Narthang, Peking, Urga and Stog Palace versions, each named after the physical location of its printing. In addition, some canonical texts have been found in Tabo and Dunhuang which provide earlier exemplars to texts found in the Kangyur; the majority of extant Kangyur editions appear to stem from the so-called Old Narthang Kangyur, though the Phukdrak and Tawang editions are thought to lie outside of that textual lineage. The stemma of the Kangyur have been well researched in particular by Paul Harrison. From the seventh century onward, existing literature were compiled and catalogued from time to time which extended, classified and put in different sets of different collections.
A separate set of translation works was re-grouped into two major collections popularly known as bka’-’gyur and bstan-’gyur, translation of Buddha’s discourses and translation of commentarial works respectively. The first Tibetan catalogue was introduced during the period of the 39th Tibetan King khri-lde srong-btsen known as sad-na legs-mjing-gyon, who issued decrees “requiring all translation works that were extant in Tibetan from their Indian original to be catalogued and subjected to be recurrently reviewed and to set guidelines of terminology in order to standardize all translation works”. A team of Indian and Tibetan scholars was assigned for the purpose; as a major step in this remarkable attempt at literary standardization, the bi-lingual glossary known as the Mahavyutpatti was accomplished in the Tibetan horse year. Another great achievement was the cataloguing of the collections available in royal libraries of the three famous Tibetan palaces under the supervision of the famous translator Bande sKa-ba dpal-brtsegs with help from his colleagues, Bande chos-kyi snying-po, Lo-tsa-wa Bande debendhara, Bande lhun-po and Bande klu’-dbang-po etc.
The earliest catalogue compilation was recorded from the manuscript of the royal collection housed in the palace- pho-brang ‘phang-thang ka-med kyi gtsug-lag-kang in the Tibetan dog year. This cataloguing work known as dkar-chag phang-thang-ma. Soon afterwards two further catalogues of collections available in two other royal libraries- pho-brang bsam-yas mchims-phu-ma and pho-brang stong-thang ldan-dkar were compiled and came to be known as dkar-chag mchims-phu-ma and dkar-chag ldan-dkar-ma respectively. Dkar-chag ldan-dkar-ma was compiled in the dragon year. Among these three catalogues, ldan-dkar-ma, included in the volume Jo of sna-tsogs in sde-ge bka’-bstan, is believed to be the only surviving so far, but a manuscript of dkar-chag phang-thang-ma is discovered and published from Tibet. It contains 961 titles listed under 34 subject headings with additional information of numbers of verses that contains in each text; the ldan-dkar-ma catalogue listed under a category of 27 subject headings.
An interesting unique feature of Tibetan catalogue is that, alongside information about the source material of translation and the bibliographical details, it gives in physical descriptions, such as the nos. of words, verses and folios-pages in each of textual contents. Thus today we have a record of 73 million words contained in the bka’-’gyur & bstan-’gyur collection. According to the latest edition of Dharma Publication, the bKa’-‘gyur contains 1,115 texts, spread over 65,420 Tibetan folios amounting to 450,000 lines or 25 million words; the bsTan-'gyur contains 3,387 texts using 127,000 folios amounting to 850,000 lines and 48 millions words. The sum total of both these collections is 4,502 texts in 73 millions words. By fixing bampo to verses and to words of each of the textual contents, the individual works are interpolation and alteration; this further strengthened the authenticity of Tibetan Buddhist literature. These are the first Tibetan catalogues in three versions that were compiled and published in the beginning of the ninth century by the great sgra-sgyur gyi lo-tsa-wa Bande sKa-ba dpal-brtsegs and his team.
Tibet, becomes the earliest to accomplish catalogue as inventory i
Silk Road transmission of Buddhism
Buddhism entered Han China via the Silk Road, beginning in the 1st or 2nd century CE. The first documented translation efforts by Buddhist monks in China were in the 2nd century CE under the influence of the expansion of the Kushan Empire into the Chinese territory of the Tarim Basin under Kanishka; these contacts brought Gandharan Buddhist culture into territories adjacent to China proper. Direct contact between Central Asian and Chinese Buddhism continued throughout the 3rd to 7th century, well into the Tang period. From the 4th century onward, with Faxian's pilgrimage to India, Xuanzang, Chinese pilgrims started to travel by themselves to northern India, their source of Buddhism, in order to get improved access to original scriptures. Much of the land route connecting northern India with China at that time was ruled by the Kushan Empire, the Hephthalite Empire; the Indian form of Buddhist tantra reached China in the 7th century. Tibetan Buddhism was established as a branch of Vajrayana, in the 8th century.
But from about this time, the Silk Road transmission of Buddhism began to decline with the Muslim conquest of Transoxiana, resulting in the Uyghur Khaganate by the 740s. By this time, Indian Buddhism itself was in decline, due to the resurgence of Hinduism on one hand and due to the Muslim expansion on the other, while Tang-era Chinese Buddhism was repressed in the 9th century, but not before in its turn giving rise to Korean and Japanese traditions. Buddhism was brought to China via the Silk Road. Buddhist monks travelled with merchant caravans on the Silk Road; the lucrative Chinese silk trade along this trade route began during the Han Dynasty with the establishment by Alexander the Great of a system of Hellenistic kingdoms and trade networks extending from the Mediterranean to modern Afghanistan and Tajikistan on the borders of China. The powerful Greco-Bactrian Kingdoms in Afghanistan and the Indo-Greek Kingdoms practiced Greco-Buddhism and formed the first stop on the Silk Road, after China, for nearly 300 years.
See Dayuan. The transmission of Buddhism to China via the Silk Road started in the 1st century CE with a semi-legendary account of an embassy sent to the West by the Chinese Emperor Ming: It may be assumed that travelers or pilgrims brought Buddhism along the Silk Roads, but whether this first occurred from the earliest period when those roads were open, ca. 100 BC, must remain open to question. The earliest direct references to Buddhism concern the 1st century AD, but they include hagiographical elements and are not reliable or accurate. Extensive contacts however started in the 2nd century CE as a consequence of the expansion of the Greco-Buddhist Kushan Empire into the Chinese territory of the Tarim Basin, with the missionary efforts of a great number of Central Asian Buddhist monks to Chinese lands; the first missionaries and translators of Buddhists scriptures into Chinese were either Parthian, Sogdian or Kuchean. In the middle of the 2nd century, the Kushan Empire under king Kaniṣka from its capital at Purushapura, India expanded into Central Asia and went beyond the regions of Kashgar and Yarkand, in the Tarim Basin, modern Xinjiang.
As a consequence, cultural exchanges increased, Central Asian Buddhist missionaries became active shortly after in the Chinese capital cities of Loyang and sometimes Nanjing, where they distinguished themselves by their translation work. They promoted both Mahāyāna scriptures. Thirty-seven of these early translators of Buddhist texts are known. An Shigao, a Parthian prince who made the first known translations of Hīnayāna Buddhist texts into Chinese Lokakṣema, a Kushan and the first to translate Mahāyāna scriptures into Chinese An Xuan, a Parthian merchant who became a monk in China in 181 Zhi Yao, a Kushan monk in the second generation of translators after Lokakṣema. Kang Meng-hsiang, the first translator from Kangju Zhi Qian, a Kushan monk whose grandfather had settled in China during 168–190 Zhi Yueh, a Kushan monk who worked at Nanjing Kang Senghui, born in Jiaozhi close to modern Hanoi in what was the extreme south of the Chinese empire, a son of a Sogdian merchant Tan-ti, a Parthian monk Po Yen, a Kuchean prince Dharmarakṣa, a Kushan whose family had lived for generations at Dunhuang An Fachiin, a monk of Parthian origins Po Srimitra, a Kuchean prince Kumārajīva, a Kuchean monk and one of the most important translators Dharmakṣema, scholar who brought Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra to China Fotudeng, a Central Asian monk who became a counselor to the Chinese court Bodhidharma, the founder of the Chan school of Buddhism, the legendary originator of the physical training of the Shaolin monks that led to the creation of Shaolin kung fu.
According to the earliest reference to him, by Yang Xuanzhi, he was a monk of Central Asian origin whom Yang Xuanshi met around 520 at Loyang. Throughout Buddhist art, Bodhidharma is depicted as a rather ill-tempered, profusely bearded and wide-eyed barbarian, he is referred to as "The Blue-Eyed Barbarian" in Chinese Chan texts. Five monks from Gandhāra who traveled in 485 CE to the country of Fusang, where they introduced Buddhism. Jñānagupta, a monk and translator from Gandhāra Śikṣānanda, a monk and translator from Udyāna, Gandhāra Prajñā (c. 81
The Dhamma Chakra is a symbol from ancient India and one of the Ashtamangala of Hinduism, Buddhism. The Dhamma wheel symbol has represented Buddhism, Gautama Buddha's teachings and his walking of the path to Enlightenment since the time of early Buddhism; the symbol is connected to the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. The Sanskrit noun dharma is a derivation from the root dhṛ, which has a meaning of "to hold, keep", takes a meaning of "what is established or firm", hence "law", it is derived from the Vedic Sanskrit n-stem dharman- with the meaning "bearer, supporter" in the historical Vedic religion conceived of as an aspect of Ṛta. The wheel is the main attribute of Vishnu, the Vedic god of preservation. Madhavan and Parpola note Chakra sign appears in Indus Valley civilization, on several seals. Notably, in a sequence of ten signs on the Dholavira signboard, four are the chakra. Common Dharmachakra symbols consist of either 24 spokes. In Unicode, as emoji: ☸️; the Buddha described the 24 qualities of ideal Buddhist followers, represented by the 24 spokes of the Ashoka Chakra which represent 24 qualities of a Santani: Also an integral part of the emblem is the motto inscribed below the abacus in Devanagari script: Satyameva Jayate.
This is a quote from the concluding part of the sacred Hindu Vedas. In the Bhagavad Gita too, verses 14, 15 and 16, of Chapter 3 speaks about the revolving wheel thus: "From food, the beings are born; the one who does not follow the wheel thus revolving, leads a sinful, vain life, rejoicing in the senses." The Dharmachakra is one of the ashtamangala of Buddhism. It is one of the oldest known Buddhist symbols found in Indian art, appearing with the first surviving post-Indus Valley Civilization Indian iconography in the time of the Buddhist king Ashoka; the Buddha is said to have set the dhammacakka in motion when he delivered his first sermon, described in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. The wheel itself depicts ideas about the cycle of saṃsāra and furthermore the Noble Eightfold Path. Buddhism adopted the wheel as the main symbol of the chakravartin "wheel-turner", the ideal king or "universal monarch", symbolising the ability to cut through all obstacles and illusions. According to Harrison, the symbolism of "the wheel of the law" and the order of Nature is visible in the Tibetan prayer wheels.
The moving wheels symbolize the movement of cosmic order. The image, having been found in antiquity is referred to as Rimbo is an accepted symbol used in Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, first Vice President of India has stated that the Ashoka Chakra of India represents the Dharmachakra. In the Vishnu Purana and Bhagavata Purana, two kings named Jadabharata of the Hindu solar and lunar dynasties are referred to as "Chakravartins". Jagdish Chandra Jain referred to this icon in Kalinga. In Jainism, the Dharmachakra is worshipped as a symbol of the dharma. Other "chakras" appear in other Indian traditions, e.g. Vishnu's Sudarśanacakra, a wheel-shaped weapon; the former Flag of Sikkim featured a version of the dharmachakra. Thai people use a yellow flag with a red dhammacakka as their Buddhist flag; the emblem of Mongolia includes a dharmachakra together with some other Buddhist attributes such as the padma, cintamani, a blue khata and the Soyombo symbol. The dharmachakra is the insignia for Buddhist chaplains in the United States Armed Forces.
In non-Buddhist cultural contexts, an eight-spoked dharmachakra resembles a traditional ship's wheel. As a nautical emblem, this image is a common sailor tattoo. In the Unicode computer standard, the dharmachakra is called the "Wheel of Dharma" and found in the eight-spoked form, it is represented as U+2638. In Falun Gong or Falun Dafa, the Fǎlún is described as “an intelligent, rotating entity composed of high-energy matter.” Practitioners of Falun Gong cultivate this Law Wheel, which rotates in the lower abdomen, the same focal point described as Lower Dāntián. Dorothy C. Donath. Buddhism for the West: Theravāda, Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna. Julian Press. ISBN 0-07-017533-0. Media related to Dharmacakra at Wikimedia CommonsBuddhist Wheel Symbol
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
Saṃsāra in Buddhism is the beginningless cycle of repeated birth, mundane existence and dying again. Samsara is considered to be dukkha and painful, perpetuated by desire and avidya, the resulting karma. Rebirths occur in six realms of namely three good realms and three evil realms. Samsara ends if a person attains nirvana, the "blowing out" of the desires and the gaining of true insight into impermanence and non-self reality. In Buddhism, saṃsāra is the "suffering-laden, continuous cycle of life and rebirth, without beginning or end". In several suttas of the Samyutta Nikaya's chapter XV in particular it's said "From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on", it is the never ending repetitive cycle of birth and death, in six realms of reality, wandering from one life to another life with no particular direction or purpose. Samsara is characterized by dukkha; every rebirth is impermanent.
In each rebirth one dies, to be reborn elsewhere in accordance with one's own karma. It is perpetuated by one's avidya about anicca and anatta, from craving. Samsara continues until moksha is attained by means of nirvana; the "blowing out" of the desires and the gaining of true insight into impermanence and non-self reality. The Saṃsāra doctrine of Buddhism asserts that while beings undergo endless cycles of rebirth, there is no changeless soul that transmigrates from one lifetime to another - a view that distinguishes its Saṃsāra doctrine from that in Hinduism and Jainism; this no-soul doctrine is called the Anatman in Buddhist texts. The early Buddhist texts suggest that Buddha faced a difficulty in explaining what is reborn and how rebirth occurs, after he innovated the concept that there is "no self". Buddhist scholars, such as the mid-1st millennium CE Pali scholar Buddhaghosa, suggested that the lack of a self or soul does not mean lack of continuity. Buddhaghosa attempted to explain rebirth mechanism with "rebirth-linking consciousness".
The mechanistic details of the Samsara doctrine vary within the Buddhist traditions. Theravada Buddhists assert that rebirth is immediate while the Tibetan schools hold to the notion of a bardo that can last up to forty-nine days before the being is reborn. Buddhist cosmology identifies six realms of rebirth and existence: gods, demi-gods, animals, hungry ghosts and hells. Earlier Buddhist texts refer to five realms rather than six realms; the six realms are divided into three higher realms and three lower realms. The three higher realms are the realms of the gods and demi-gods; the six realms are organized into thirty one levels in east Asian literature. Buddhist texts describe these realms as follows: Gods realm: the gods is the most pleasure-filled among six realms, subdivided into twenty six sub-realms. A rebirth in this heavenly realm is believed to be from good karma accumulation. A Deva does not need to work, is able to enjoy in the heavenly realm all pleasures found on earth. However, the pleasures of this realm lead to attachment, lack of spiritual pursuits and therefore no nirvana.
The vast majority of Buddhist lay people, states Kevin Trainor, have pursued Buddhist rituals and practices motivated with rebirth into Deva realm. The Deva realm in Buddhist practice in southeast and east Asia, states Keown, include gods found in Hindu traditions such as Indra and Brahma, concepts in Hindu cosmology such as Mount Meru. Human realm: called the manuṣya realm. Buddhism asserts that one is reborn in this realm with vastly different physical endowments and moral natures because of a being's past karma. A rebirth in this realm is considered as fortunate because it offers an opportunity to attain nirvana and end the Saṃsāra cycle. Demi-god realm: the demi-gods is the third realm of existence in Buddhism. Asura are notable for some supernormal powers, they fight with trouble the Manusya through illnesses and natural disasters. They accumulate karma, are reborn. Demi-god is sometimes ranked as one of the evil realms as there are stories of them fighting against the Gods. Animal realm: is state of existence of a being as an animal.
This realm is traditionally thought to be similar to a hellish realm, because animals are believed in Buddhist texts to be driven by impulse and instinct, they prey on each other and suffer. Some Buddhist texts assert that plants belong with primitive consciousness. Hungry ghost realm: hungry ghosts and other restless spirits are rebirths caused by karma of excessive craving and attachments, they are invisible and constitute only "subtle matter" of a being. Buddhist texts describe them as beings who are thirsty and hungry small mouths but large stomachs. Buddhist traditions in Asia attempt to care for them on ritual days every year, by leaving food and drinks in open, to feed any hungry ghosts nearby; when their bad karma demerit runs out, these beings are reborn