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Major Religions of South Asia. What are the purposes of religion?. Buddhist History. Origination : 6 th and 5 th Centuries B.C.E. India One of dozens of religions practiced in the region during the time period Founding Figure : Sakya Prince, Siddhartha Gautama

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buddhist history
Buddhist History


  • 6th and 5th Centuries B.C.E.
  • India
  • One of dozens of religions practiced in the region during the time period

Founding Figure:

  • Sakya Prince, Siddhartha Gautama
    • Sooth-Sayer Predicted him to become “A Great Conqueror” or “The Holy One”
    • Left life of luxury to find “Enlightenment”
    • Dedicated his life to ending suffering of the outside world
    • Known by followers as “The Buddha”

Buddhist Texts

  • Original Teachings of The Buddha were passed orally (500 years)
  • Written eventually in two languages
    • Pali & Sanskrit
    • Created two sects or versions of Buddhism
      • Theravada (Pali) & Mahayana (Sanskrit)
  • Teachings of the Buddha are contained in written texts known as Sutras
  • Texts accepted as teachings of The Buddha are known as Buddhavacana

Major Tenets of Buddhism

The Four Noble Truths:

  • Dukkha (Suffering)
  • Tanha (Desire/Craving)
  • To end suffering, craving/desire must end
  • The way to end the selfish desires that cause suffering is to follow the Eightfold Path of Buddha.

*Goal of a Buddhist is to reach Enlightenment (to be awakened) and achieve Nirvana, which literally means “stop” or to “extinguish”


Major Tenets of Buddhism

*Sets forth a middle path, between the extremes of asceticism and sensual indulgence

The Eightfold Path:

  • Correct view, an accurate understanding of the nature of things, specifically the Four Noble Truths
  • Correct intention, avoiding thoughts of attachment, hatred, and harmful intent
  • Correct speech, refraining from verbal misdeeds such as lying, divisive speech, harsh speech, and senseless speech
  • Correct action, refraining from physical misdeeds such as killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct
  • Correct livelihood, avoiding trades that directly or indirectly harm others, such as selling slaves, weapons, animals for slaughter, intoxicants, or poisons
  • Correct effort, abandoning negative states of mind that have already arisen, preventing negative states that have yet to arise, and sustaining positive states that have already arisen
  • Correct mindfulness, awareness of body, feelings, thought, and phenomena
  • Correct concentration, single-mindedness

Major Tenets of Buddhism

Triratna: “Three Jewels”

* Things to which a Buddhist looks for guidance or can “take refuge” in.

The Three Jewels

  • Buddha: the ideal or highest spiritual potential that exists within all beings
  • Dharma: the teachings of The Buddha
  • Sangha: The community of those who have attained enlightenment, who may help a practicing Buddhist reach enlightenment

Wheel of Dharma

*Symbolizes balance of life, which is a representation of the path to enlightenment


Major Tenets of Buddhism


  • Often described as rebirth or reincarnation
  • Reaching Enlightenment ends the cycles of rebirth for a Buddhist
  • Rebirth could include many forms and many different realms of existence


  • According to Buddhists Karma is “action” or “doing” according to intentions
  • One’s karma affects their rebirth

Buddhist Practices


  • One of the keys to attaining Enlightenment
  • Requires training to perfect
  • Techniques are used to help follow the Eightfold Path through meditation
    • Explicitly
      • Right Mindfulness
      • Right Concentration
      • Right View
  • Meditation is a tool/skill to help stop suffering and desire, the main impediments to Enlightenment
hinduism development
Hinduism: Development
  • Development
    • Based on evolution of Many Ancient Religious Beliefs of the Indian Sub-Continent (2500 B.C.E.)
    • Hindu, from the Persian “Hind” describing the geographical area where original civilization of India began (Indus River Valley)
    • No singular set of beliefs, beliefs change based on local/regional traditions
      • Over a million gods exist in Hinduism as a result
      • A Hindu may be Monotheist, Polytheist, or Atheist as a result of varied belief systems

Hindu Texts

  • Sacred Texts
    • No Singular Text, Thousands exist
    • Important Texts for all Hindus
      • Upanishads
      • Vedas
  • Vedas – the most ancient holy texts in Hinduism; originally chanted, passed orally
  • Upanishads
  • Sanskrit – the language of the Vedas and a holy language for Hindus; for thousands of years, the common language of educated Indians

MajorHindu Tenets

  • Difficult to describe, but some aspects are true across the varying Hindu belief systems
  • One Force Underlies Everything
    • “God is one, but wise people know it by many names.”
  • Achieving Mokshais the Goal of Life - Ending Cycle of Samsara
    • Atman: individual’s soul
    • Moksha: “let go” to end samsara
    • Samsara: cycle of rebirths
    • Karma: “action” or “doing”
    • Dharma: Natural Law or Moral Law
    • Ahimsa: Nonviolence

Hindu gods: The Trimurti

Shiva: “The Destroyer”

Vishnu: “The Preserver”

Brahma: “The Creator”

the caste system
The Caste System
  • Caste system linked closely to Hindu beliefs
    • Caste Rules Existed to govern each of the 4 levels
    • Classes Called “Varnas” meaning “Color”
    • Untouchables (outcastes) did not fit at all in the system
  • Social Order
    • Provided Stability
    • Worked to move to a higher caste in a future life
    • Still Has Lingering Effects Today


unclean workers (tanners, waste, cremation, etc)


Jainism: Development

  • Prominent Figure
    • Mahavira (“Great Hero”)
      • 6th Century BCE – India
      • Prince - warrior caste
      • Adopted Asceticism at age 30 for 12 years
      • Gained enlightenment and became teacher of Jaindoctrine or his path to enlightenment
      • Not considered founder by Jains, but last of the Tirthankara

Jainism: Texts


  • Mahavira's disciples compiled his words into texts or sutras, and memorized them to pass on to future generations.
  • Texts had to be memorized -- Jain monks and nuns not allowed to possess religious books as part of their vow of non-acquisition, nor allowed to write.

Jainism: Major Tenets

  • Aparigraha - non-acquisition
    • possessions are an obstacle to liberation.
      • the more a person possesses in worldly wealth the more he may be unhappy and the more likely he is to commit sin, both physically and mentally.
      • One tradition says that a Jain should live on half their income, save a quarter of their income for their old age, or for times of sickness, and give the last quarter to charity.
  • Ahimsa - The supreme principle of Jain living is non violence.

Jainism: Major Tenets

  • Jains are strict vegetarians and live in a way that minimizes their use of the world's resources.
  • Jains must do their best to avoid any intentional hurt to living things. In daily life harm can be minimized by filtering drinking water, not eating at night, and so on
  • If a Jain's work unavoidably causes harm (farming) they should try to minimize the harm and maintain complete detachment.

Jainism: Major Tenets


  • When a being dies the soul (Jiva) goes to its next body instantly. This body may not be human or even animal.
  • The quality of its next life is determined by its karma at that time.


  • A being achieves deliverance when it is free from all karma.
  • This is not the same thing as enlightenment. An enlightened being is free of all harmful karma, but still subject to the non-harmful karma. However, a delivered being cannot attract any harmful karma, and they cannot do anything bad. Such a being is called an arihant.

Jainism: Major Tenets


Jains believe that karma is a physical substance that is everywhere in the universe. Karma particles are attracted to the jiva (soul) by the actions of that jiva.

The quantity and nature of the karma particles sticking to the soul cause the soul to be happy or unhappy and affect the events in the soul's present and future lives.


Jainism: Three Jewels

  • Right Faith
    • seeing (hearing, feeling, etc.) things properly, and avoiding preconceptions and superstitions that get in the way of seeing clearly.
  • Right Knowledge
    • having a proper knowledge of the Jain scriptures
  • Right Conduct
    • Living life according to Jain ethical rules, avoid doing harm to living things and freeing yourself from attachment and other impure attitudes and thoughts.

Jainism: The Five Great Vows

  • Non-Violence
    • (Jainsmay use violence in self-defense)
  • Truth
    • Dishonesty by not doing something is as bad as being actively dishonest.
  • Non-Stealing
    • Also includes not cheating
  • Chastity
    • For lay Jains, this means only having relations with your wife or husband
  • Non-Possession