“Buddham saranam gacchami, Dhammam saranam gacchami, Sangham saranam gacchami.”
I go the Darkness to Light, towards wisdom for refuge. I go towards higher consciousness and towards mindfulness for refuge. I go to Dhamma for refuge, which is here and now, something which is accessible right now. I go to the community for refuge. Community which is there to help me and I am there to help them, community which is for each other.
Buddhism has always been about selflessness, this was a religion born out of the Hinduism (the Sanatan Dharma) a religion where Lord Buddha wanted the common man to awaken the mind and liberate it from sufferings, establish a direct connection with the divine forces and remain in the present.
Buddhism is the world’s fourth largest religion in the world, with over 520 million followers, which is 7% of the world population. The followers are known as Buddhist. Buddhism was born & it flourished in Asia. It later spread across the globe slowly and gradually. It is the dominant religion in countries like China, Myanmar, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, Hongkong, Thailand, South Korea, Cambodia, Bhutan, Laos, Tibet, Macau, Nepal, North Korea, Mongolia & Sri Lanka.
Buddhism emphasizes on spiritual development of individual & to realize the ultimate truth. Meditation is its core & it believes that, if one does regular meditation it brings changes within the individual & develops the qualities like awareness, kindness & wisdom. Buddhism guides towards a path of enlightenment or Buddhahood, which means to achieve the absolute truth & to get rid of sorrows & sufferings. Buddhism as a religion is a bit different because of its philosophy which doesn’t believe in the concept of creator or God hence the followers don’t worship any God or deity, rather they believe that, there is nothing permanent in the universe & all individuals actions have consequences which is the same philosophy of “Karma” in Sanatan Dharma.
There are mainly 3 branches or school of thoughts in Buddhism- Theravada, Mahayana & Vajrayana.
- Theravada (the school of the elders) – It believes & practices the earliest Buddhist teachings. They follow the oldest teachings of Buddhism written in ancient Indian Sanskrit & Pali language. This school is also considered conservative among the schools of Buddhism. The followers of this branch strictly follow the doctrine of Thavada meditation practice & reject any new teachings. The goal of this branch is to become fully awakened (called Arhat) through regular practice of meditation. They strictly follow Buddha’s Eight Noble Eightfold path i.e. right vision, right emotion, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness & right meditation.
- Mahayana (great vehicle) – They believe that the world is like a dream & it can change through our thoughts, words & actions. Unlike Theravada school, this school welcomes new teachings. Here the primary goal is to achieve the stage of Bodhisattva or to become a person who has awakened & by using his ability one can achieve Nirvana (get rid from the cycle of birth & re-birth). But the followers of this school, instead of achieving Nirvana, they are focused to guide & teach others to get Nirvana & try to delay their process to achieve Nirvana.
- Vajrayana – The followers of this school believes in & perform tantras, which are mystical procedure, it is a combination of physical & spiritual practices. This branch believes, by using mystical powers they can speedup the process of attaining Nirvana.
- All schools of Buddhism believe & follow few basic teachings of Buddha i.e. the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of the suffering & the truth of the path that leads to the end of the suffering, which is Nirvana.
Buddhist’s follow 5 moral principles, which prohibits –
1. Killing living things
2. Taking what is not given
3. Sexual misconduct
5. Using drugs or alcohol
The most important holy books for Buddhists are Trpitaka, Sutras & The Book of the Dead.
Now after getting an overall idea about Buddhism, a natural question that comes in our mind is, who is the founder of Buddhism or who is Lord Buddha?
Whenever we talk about Buddhism, we perceive that it must have come from China or Tibet, because of its association with Martial-Art. Well most of the people are unaware that Martial-Art was also was born in India & it spread along with Buddhism from India to the whole world. Well the founder of Buddhism was Gautama Buddha (the enlightened). His original name was Siddhartha Gautama, who born more than 2500 years ago & later became the founder of Buddhism. Born in a wealthy royal family & despite being a Prince, since his childhood Siddhartha use to get very upset when he saw the sufferings of the common human beings, though he had a lavish lifestyle, but the sufferings of humans were a matter of deep concern for him & he continuously tried to find the root cause of all sufferings of human being & this search pushed him towards the path of spiritualism. At a very young age, he decided to leave all his comfort & live a life of extreme misery, poverty & all kind of hardships. But after a certain time, he realizes that this path is not the correct one & found the idea of Middle-Way, which is the center point of two extremes (neither to live an affluent life nor live in extreme hardship).
He than started meditation in the search of the ultimate truth & found enlightenment, while meditating under a tree which later became the world famous as “Bodhi Tree”. Now Siddhartha became Buddha (the enlightened) & he dedicated his entire life to spread his teachings to the common people about how to achieve the spiritual state which he attainted. The great conqueror & emperor, The Great Ashoka, whose rule was extended to the entire Indian subcontinent, became a follower of Buddhism in his later life & accepted Buddhism as his state religion & Buddhism started spreading rapidly outside India & Indian subcontinent.
Many scholars & researchers of spiritual philosophies, historians, writers, observers & important spiritual leaders like Dalai Lama believes that Buddhism like many other religions is the part of the family tree of Sanatan Dharma (Hinduism). There are many rock-solid reasons behind this logic.
Buddhism believes in the endless cycle of birth, death, re-birth and incarnation. The ultimate goal is to become enlightened & achieve Nirvana (to get rid of the cycle of birth, death & re-birth) which is the core principal of Sanatan Dharma where any individual’s ultimate goal is to attain Moksha (to get rid of the cycle of birth, death & re-birth).
Buddhism’s core teaching is to follow Dharma (doing righteous work, use of right speech, action, follow the right path i.e. follow the path of spiritualism, follow moral values etc.) where Sanatan Dharma emphasizes on following Dharma (which is gain to follow the social code of conduct, doing righteous work, right action, follow the right path i.e. follow the path of spiritualism).
Sanatan Dharma guides us to get rid of all material happiness, attraction, personal bonding, physical happiness, false emotions, mentality of collecting wealth & consider all these as the core source of all or sufferings & guide us to achieve the goal i.e. Moksha through devotion & ultimate submission to the almighty. Buddhism believes that attachment to people, places, things, ideas are the core source of all suffering for human being & talks about Nirvana. Meditation being an integral part of Sanatan Dharma is more than 10,000 years old & is the basis of nearly all school of thoughts of Sanatan Dharma; hence it’s the core of Buddhism as well.
Apart from the above mentioned similarities, there is a huge similarity between the culture of Buddhism & Sanatan Dharma. Even the holy symbols are a great match of each other like both use Conch, Swastika, lotus flower, Dharma Chakra, Mudra (a symbolic gesture expression a emotion), Rudrasha (Beads of Rudraksha tree, uses for praying), Tilak (a symbolic mark on the forehead).
Yoga is another important practice & highly regarded in both Sanatan Dharma & Buddhism. If some one goes to the deep spiritual root of Buddhism he/she will realize that Buddhism is a big branch of the Sanatan Tree which is the mother of many cultures, languages, modern day civilizations & predecessor of almost all existing religions in the world.
In the end, I would just like to quote what Lord Buddha said,
“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.”
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