It is the world’s fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists.
It encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on original teachings attributed to the Buddha and resulting interpreted philosophies.
It originated in ancient India as a Sramana tradition sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, spreading through much of Asia.
Two major extant branches of Buddhism are generally recognized by scholars: Theravada (Pali: “The School of the Elders”) and Mahayana (Sanskrit: “The Great Vehicle”).
FACTS ABOUT BUDDHISM
- The term ‘Buddhism’ was coined by Western scholars in the 1830s. Buddhists don’t actually refer to their religion as “Buddhism”.
- Buddhism originated from around 400BC with the historical individual known as the Buddha.
- The first mention of the Buddha in Western writing is in the writings of Clement of Alexandria, 2 AD.
- The Buddha founded an order of monks and nuns known as the Sangha who have preserved his teachings down to the present day.
- Buddhism is an extensive and internally diverse tradition with two main branches.
- With 360 million followers, Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world.
- In Buddhism, there is no single holy book. Extensive scriptures have been preserved in many Asian languages.
- Buddhists don’t believe in a supreme being or creator god.
- Because of its emphasis on meditation and mindfulness, Buddhism is often considered to be a form of psychology rather than a religion.
- Many traditional Buddhists believe in reincarnation and rebirth. Modern Buddhists believe this idea can be jettisoned without losing any central value.
Grade XII – C