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Did the Buddha Really Exist?
The Buddha is a Sanskrit word, which means the Enlightened One. When the historical Buddha was living, he asked his followers and monks to refer him as Tathagata (literally the one who knows). After his death, Buddha became more common name for the founder of Buddhism.
The Buddha and Buddhism
The Buddha is the founder of Buddhism. The only surviving religion that is older than Buddhism is Hinduism and Judaism. The Buddha is referred both, as a God, in Hinduism and Buddhism, and historically as a man who attained Enlightenment.
Many archeological evidences proving the existence of the Buddha has been found. However, there are people who doubt the existence of the Buddha. This is quite natural because the one who lived more than 2600 years ago can easily be an obscure persona.
Even in the ancient time, the existence of the Buddha was doubted. Did the Buddha really exist? Many prominent as well as layperson asked this question.
Lumbini: The Birthplace of the Buddha
Buddhism is one of the major world religions and the third largest religion after Christianity and Islam in terms of numbers of followers. Buddhism is older than Christianity and Islam. The origin of Buddhism dates back to 5th century Before the Common Era (BCE). The Buddha, the propagator of Buddhism, is a historical figure. He was born in Lumbini, Nepal, in c. 623 BCE, on the full moon day of May.
The Buddha spent 80 years of his life in Nepal and northern India. There are four major places related to the life of the Buddha. and considered pilgrimage sites by the Buddhists all over the world.
- Lumbini: The Buddha was born in Lumbini
- Bodhgaya: Siddhartha Gautama attained Nirvana and became the Buddha in Bodhgaya
- Sarnath: The Buddha delivered his first sermon in Sarnath
- Kushinagar: The Buddha died in Kushinagar
Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha is in Nepal and Bodhgaya, Sarnath and Kushinagar are in India.
Did the Buddha Really Exist?
Once there lived a king named Milinda, in the late 2nd century BCE. He was a Greek king of Bactria, which is now Afghanistan and Pakistan. He went to a Buddhist monk named Nagasena.
Milinda: Did the Buddha really exist?
Milinda: Can you show me?
Nagasena: He attained Nirvana so he cannot be shown today.
Milinda: Please illustrate with examples.
Nagasena: Can anyone show the flame that has extinguished?
Nagasena: Same is the case with the Buddha. His teachings tell about him.
(Excerpts from second century Buddhist non-canonical literature Milindapanha, the Questions of Milinda)
The Buddhism is a religion, a philosophy, and a way of life.
- As a religion, Buddhism appoints a pantheon of Gods and Goddesses, including the Buddha, and ascribes esoteric rituals to venerate and appease the deities for the betterment of this life as well as the afterlife.
- As a philosophy, Buddhism analyses the existence of the world, and of the individual.
- As a way of life, Buddhism prescribes many instructions on how to discard sorrows and become happy.
According to the Buddhist worldview, an individual has five main constituents.
- Matter (the physical body that consists of blood, bones, tissues etc.)
- Sensation (the emotions and feelings that arise in a body)
- Perception (the thoughts acquired through five senses)
- Intellect (the ability to perceive the outer world as well as the inner world)
- Consciousness (the insights, the awareness)
Have you been to Lumbini Nepal?
Historical Places Related to the Buddha
The Buddha was born here
Siddhartha Gautama attained Nirvana and became the Buddha in Bodhgaya
The Buddha delivered his first sermon in Sarnath
The Buddha died in Kushinagar
© 2015 Vinaya Ghimire