Second council held at Vaishali a hundred years after the death of Lord Buddha

Description Sarnath-Varanasi

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Months in India- Sarnath

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Lord Buddha's first sermon at Sarnath

The Buddha's first sermon at Sarnath is the nucleus of his religious philosophy. His teachings were simple and were explained in the language of the people i.e., Prakriti and not in Sanskrit, the sacred language of the brahmans. His main teachings were four noble truths and the eight – fold path.

Four noble truths are 1. the world is full of suffering, 2. suffering is caused by human desires, 3. the renunciation of desires is the path of salvation, 4. salvation can be achieved by following the eight – fold path.

The `eight – fold path' consists of – a) right faith, b) right resolution, c) right speech, d) right action, e) right means of livelihood, of) right exertion, g) right thought and, h) right concentration.

This path was also described as the `Middle Path'. The Buddha advised that one should neither indulge in material comforts and sensuous pleasure, nor should one practice austere penance like starvation, etc. Both extremes should be avoided.

Nirvana a the goal - By following the Buddha's Middle path one can attain nirvana or salvation, which means a tranquil state of mind which all cravings become completely extinct. Such a state of mind secures release from the chain of births and deaths.

Karama – Like Brahmanism and Jainism, Buddhism also recognized the law of Karma which declares that a man's condition in the present life is determined by the consequences of his actions in his past existence. No person can escape the consequences of his actions.

Non – violence – Like Mahavir, the Buddha also laid emphasis on ahimsa. He attached utmost importance to the sanctity of life in all its forms and opposed the sacrifice of animals in Vedic rituals.

No faith in the caste system – The Buddha had no faith in the caste system. He said laid emphasis on the basic equality between man and man. Entry to the Buddhist sangha was open to members of all castes. However, like the jains, the Buddha also did not initiate any program to abolish caste system in society.

Atheism – The Buddha did not believe in a Creator god, although he recognized the existence of Vedic and other gods as well as ghosts and spirits. According to him, the world has no beginning and is in a state of constant change. There is nothing permanent in the world, and all beings, including men and gods, are born and die according to their past actions. It is this law of Karma and its effect that governs the world process. Buddha called this universal causal law dharma.

No faith in sacrifices and rituals – The Buddha had no faith in the performance of Yajnas or sacrifices. He described the practice of rituals like the yajnas as of little consequence.

Emphasis on morality – The Buddha laid stress on morality. He also laid down a code of conduct for his followers. He advised them to lead a moral and disciplined life. They were asked not to tell lies, not to steal or covet others property, not to commit violence, not to use intoxicants and not to indulge in corrupt practises.

The place of Third Buddhist Council

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... near Rajgir, Bihar, India - location of the first Buddhist Council

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Buddhist councils

Four councils (Sangit) of learned monks are known to have been held in the early of Buddhism, and they are events of great historical importance. The first Council of five hundred senior Buddhist monks was held at Rajgriha almost immediately after the passing away of the Buddha. The purpose of the Council was to make a collection of Buddha's teachings, and this was done with the help of Upali and Anand, two of his favourite disciples. The collected teachings, with some later additions, ultimately came to be known as the Tripitaka or the three baskets, namely the Vinaya pitaka, the Sutta pitaka and the Abhidhamma pitaka, dealing respectively with -

1) the rules of conduct for the monks

2) the religious doctrine

3) the Buddhist philosophical ideas

The third or the A abhidhamma pitaka contains mostly the thoughts of later Buddhist scholars.

The Second Council was held at Vaishali a hundred years after the death of the Buddha to resolve disputes between eastern and western monks regarding rules of conduct. The dispute could not be resolved and the monks split into two camps which came to be known as Theravadins (followers of old monks) and the Mahasanghikas (members of the bigger Sangha).

The Thirds Council was held at Pataliputra during Ashoka's reign. An authentic version of the Tripitaka was prepared and those monks who did not accept were thrown out of the Sangha. The unity of the Sangha was thus restored for some time.

The Fourth Buddhist Council was held at Kudalavana in Kashmir during the reign of Kanishka. By this time, the earlier division of the Sangah into Theravadins and Mahasanghikas had been overtaken by a later division into Hinayana and Mahayana. It is not known for certain when this split occurred, but by Kanishka's time the two sects had became well established. The fourth council was a council mainly of the Sarvastivadin, a sub – sect of the Theravadins, but the Mahayana monks were also present at the Council.

Lord Buddha and the 500 Arahants Statues showing them walking behind

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