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Buddhism UPSC

About Buddha

  • Buddha ( Prince Siddharth) was born in Lumbini( Nepal) in 566 BC.
  • Left home at 29 years of age.
  • Buddha is born in the Kosal Kingdom.
  • Died in Kushinagar in the Magadha Kingdom.

The following are important events related to Buddha life and its symbol:

  • Buddha Birth( Lotus and Bull)
  • Departure from Home  or Mahabhishkramana or Great renunciation( Horse)
  • Enlightenment or Nirvana( Bodhi Tree); means the extinction of the flame of desire
  • First Sermon or Dharma Chakra Parivartan ( Wheel)
  • Death or Parinirvana or Mahanirvana ( Stupa)

The Dhamma:

The four great truths:
  • Dukha: the world is full of sorrow and misery.
  • The cause of all pain and misery is desire and attachment.
  • Pain and misery can be ended by killing or controlling the desire.
  • Desire can be controlled by following the eight-fold paths or Astanamarg.

Buddha Teaching:

Life is full of suffering and unhappiness. And the cause of suffering is desire. For controlling desire, there are eightfold paths;


  • Right Faith, and Right thought.

Moral discipline:

  • Right Action
  • Right livelihood
  • Right Speech
Mental discipline
  • Right effort
  • Right remember
  • Rightconcentartion


Three baskets to hold different types of text:

  • Vinaya Pitaka; rules and regulation for sangha and monks.
  • Sutta Pitaka; Collection of Buddha teaching
  • Abhidhamma Pitaka; contains philosophical matters.

Tri Ratna;

  • Buddha( highest spiritual potential)
  • Dhamma( teaching of Buddha)
  • Sangha( Monk and association)

Viharas: Living room of Monks.

Chaitya: Worship room of Monks

Six Buddhist Councils:

1st Buddhist Councils: ( 400 BC)

  • Place: Sattapanni caves in Rajgirha
  • Under King Ajatashatru
  • President: Monk Mahakasyapa
  • Tipitaka complied

2nd Buddhist Councils:( 383 BC)

  • Place: Vaishali
  • King: Kalashoka
  • President: Monk Sabakami
  • Two sects emerged;
  • First: Theravada ( conservative thinkers) later become Hinayana. It is also called HinaSanghic 
  • Second: Mahasamghikas later become Mahayana

3rd Buddhist Councils( 250 BC)

  • Place: Pataliputra
  • king: Ashoka
  • President: Monk Moggaliputta Tisaa

4th Buddhist Council( 72 AD)

  • Place: Kashmir
  • King: Kanishka
  • President: Vasumitra and Ashaghosha
  • Hinayana ( means small vehicles) and Mahayana ( means great vehicles)sects emerged.
  • Mahayana spread in the northern part of India comprises Ladakh, Tibet, China, Korea, Japan. Mahayana believes in Buddha as God. Bodhisatta is a central part of the Mahayana sect. Bodhisatta means living beings who aspire to enlightenment.
  • Hinayana believes in Buddha as an ordinary person and focuses on individual salvation. Hinayana believes in the future Buddha (named as Maitreya) that yet to came to save the world.

5th Buddhist council( 1871)


6th Buddhist Council:( 1954)


Important Mudra of Buddha:

1. Dharmachakra Mudra:

  • Left hand inward and right hand outward.
  • Used in the first sermon at Sarnath.

2. Bhumisparsa Mudra

  • Touching the earth with the right hand.
  • Claiming the enlightenment with the witness of earth.

3. Dhyan Mudra or Yog Mudra;

  • right-hand place on the left hand and both hands place on the lap.

4. Karana Mudra

  • Raising Index and little finger and folding the other finger.

5. Varada Mudra;

  • Used in the offering, welcome, compassion, etc.

6. Anjali Mudra or Namaskar Mudra

7. Abhay Mudra

8. Vajra Mudra

  • Symbolizing the five elements namely air, water, earth, metal,

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