Where Did Buddha Live?
Buddha’s full name was Gautama Buddha, and he lived in north-east India. He was born into a warrior tribe called the Sakyas in the 6th Century B.C. and became the founder of the religion called Buddhism. Although he was of noble birth, Buddha was not proud and fond of luxury. Even when young, he was serious and thought a great deal. He decided it was better to lead a humble, religious life.
When he was 29, he left his home and became a monk. He found strength in quiet meditation. He saw that the world was full of suffering, and wanted to help people. So he became a wandering teacher. Buddha gave his first sermon at Varanasi (Benares) on the River Ganges. Here, he outlined the beliefs which have guided Buddhists ever since. Buddha said first of all that worldly life cannot give final happiness.
You should not be either completely self-indulgent or too strict with yourself. You should try to follow a middle path, maintaining inner peace and discipline. A Buddhist’s final spiritual goal is a blissful state called Nirvana, in which he is completely calm and free from any pain or anxiety.
The name Buddha means “The Enlightened One”. He died near Varanasi (Benares) when he was 80. By then he had organized a community of monks, called the Sangha, to carry on his teachings. The main countries where Buddhism is practised are Burma, Thailand, Ceylon and Japan. There are about 177,000 Buddhists in North America.
Accounts of his life, discourses, and monastic rules are believed by Buddhists to have been summarized after his death and memorized by his followers. Various collections of teachings attributed to him were passed down by oral tradition and first committed to writing about 400 years later.
The times of Gautama’s birth and death are uncertain. Most historians in the early 20th century dated his lifetime as circa 563 BCE to 483 BCE. More recently his death is dated later, between 411 and 400 BCE, while at a symposium on this question held in 1988, the majority of those who presented definite opinions gave dates within 20 years either side of 400 BCE for the Buddha’s death. These alternative chronologies, however, have not yet been accepted by all historians.
The evidence of the early texts suggests that Siddhārtha Gautama was born into the Shakya clan, a community that was on the periphery, both geographically and culturally, of the eastern Indian subcontinent in the 5th century BCE. It was either a small republic, or an oligarchy, and his father was an elected chieftain, or oligarch. According to the Buddhist tradition, Gautama was born in Lumbini, now in modern-day Nepal, and raised in the Shakya capital of Kapilvastu, which may have been either in what is present day Tilaurakot, Nepal or Piprahwa, India. He obtained his enlightenment in Bodh Gaya, gave his first sermon in Sarnath, and died in Kushinagar.
No written records about Gautama were found from his lifetime or some centuries thereafter. One Edict of Asoka, who reigned from circa 269 BCE to 232 BCE, commemorates the Emperor’s pilgrimage to the Buddha’s birthplace in Lumbini. Another one of his edicts mentions the titles of several Dhamma texts, establishing the existence of a written Buddhist tradition at least by the time of the Maurya era. These texts may be the precursor of the Pāli Canon.
The oldest surviving Buddhist manuscripts are the Gandhāran Buddhist texts, reported to have been found in or around Haḍḍa near Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan and now preserved in the British Library. They are written in the Gāndhārī language using the Kharosthi script on twenty-seven birch bark manuscripts and date from the first century BCE to the third century CE.