Sources of Indian Civilization
Buddhism 1


1. Buddhism in India: Overview

Vardhamana Mahavira (599-527)
Gotama Buddha (563-483)
Alexander (327-325)
Ashoka (273-237)
Melinda/Menander (150 BCE)
Kanishka (78-101)

Sanchi: 2nd-1st centuries BCE
Mathura: 1st CE
Amaravati: 2nd CD
Sarnath: 5-7th centuries CE
Ajanta: 5th CE
Ellura: 5th-6th CE

Fa-Hsien, 405
Hsuen-tsang, 629

Nalanda University sacked, 1202
B.R. Ambedkar converts to Buddhism, with untouchables, 1954
Dalai Lama flees from Tibet to India, 1959


2. Life of Siddhartha Gotama Buddha

Comparison with Vardhamana Mahavira:
sramanas, kshatriyas, ascetics, nastikas, not theistic
Ashvaghosa's Buddhacharita
Kapilavastu - place of the Siddhartha Gautama's birth
Bodh Gaya - place of enlightenment
Sarnath - place of the "turning of the wheel of dharma"
Kushinara - place of the Buddha's entry into parinirvana, at time of death

Cities of the Buddha's time: Varanasi, Shravasti, Kosambi, Rajagriha.


3. Language of Enlightenment

bodhi, enlightenment
nirvana, going out
buddha, awakened
moksa, free


4. Three marks of existence

anicca (anitya)
anatta (anatma)
dukkha (duhkha)


5. "Nagasena, Does the Buddha still exist?"


6. The Four Noble Truths

The Noble Truth of suffering is this: Birth is suffering; aging is suffering; sickness is suffering; death is suffering; sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief, and despair are suffering; association with the unpleasant is suffering; dissociation from the pleasant is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering --in brief, the five aggregates of attachment are suffering.

The Noble Truth of the origin of suffering is this: It is this thirst (craving) which produces re-existence and re-becoming, bound up with passionate greed. It finds fresh delight now here and now there, namely, thirst for sense-pleasures; thirst for existence and becoming; and thirst for non-existence (self-annihilation).

The Noble Truth of the Cessation of suffering is this: It is the complete cessation of that very thirst, giving it up, renouncing it, emancipating oneself from it, detaching oneself from it.

The Noble Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of suffering is this: It is simply the Noble Eightfold Path, namely right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.


Ashvaghosa, author of the Buddhacarita, The Story of the Life of the Buddha. (See, for example, E.H. Johnstone, tr. The Buddhacarita or Acts of the Buddha, or the translation in Edward Conze, ed. Buddhist Scriptures (Penguin)
Mahaparinibbana Sutta, the scripture that tells of the final passing away of the Buddha. Found in Rhys-Davids, ed. Buddhist Suttas (Sacred Books of the East).