Gautam Buddha: Life History, Teachings, and Contributions

Relevance of Buddhist Teachings in the Modern World:

Buddhism has something to offer and is relevant in all times. According to Dalai Lama, “Buddhist science and Buddhist philosophy have a great deal to offer to everyone. We don’t need to look at, or be interested in, Buddhist religion in order to benefit from the teachings and insights that are available in Buddhist science and philosophy.” If it is observed, Buddhist science deals with human psychology; it is an in-depth analysis of how the mind, emotions, perception work. It also deals in the area of logic, and insights into cosmology. On the other side, Buddhist philosophy deals with reality – our comprehension of reality and how one can deconstruct fantasies and projections about reality. With a detailed study about this, one can find both Buddhist philosophy and science to be helpful in training the mind and developing a more beneficial attitude toward life. So even if someone does not accept Buddhist as a religion but learns to live according to its teachings can lead a happy and blessed life.

Contribution of the Buddha and Buddhism:

Buddha has been a prominent influencer in the history of ancient India. The life story of Buddha and his teachings helped the country undergo major social and political changes. The founder of Buddhism Religion has contributed significantly in shaping our constitution as well, here are what can be affirmed as the life achievements of Gautam Buddha:

National Unity:

Nothing brought Indian subcontinent closer in political and social field than Buddhism. The religion promoted a sense of national feeling amongst the Indians and it somehow shattered the dominance of the caste system which stood in the way of the achievement of this unity. It was mainly due to this unity and social harmony that the Mauryas could establish a powerful empire. This contribution of Buddhism has been recognized by E. B. Havell when he stated “In social and political sphere Buddhism has played the same role in cultivating a national spirit in India which Christianity did in 7th century to integrate the diversified elements of Saxon Hierarchy.”

Curb on the Violent Spirit:

Buddhism emphasized Ahimsa or non-violence, which greatly affected the people. It is well known that Emperor Ashoka, under the influence of Buddhism gave up on war and started to practice Ahimsa.

Contact with Outside World:

Buddhist religion in India became the first religion to go trans-border with the support of kings like Ashoka and Kanishka (majorly). The religion spread to countries like China, Japan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Tibet and Sri Lanka. According to J. N. Sarkar, “Due to the spread of Buddhism in foreign countries, foreigners considered India as a holy place and the sources of their religion. This contact with the outside world also promoted political and commercial relations with these countries.”

A Simple and Comprehensible Religion

According to K. M. Panikar, “To the common man this (Buddhism) was indeed a new gospel. There were no secret mantras, no expensive yagas or sacrifices and indeed no difficult doctrines as in the Upanishads.” And thus, it turned out to be a religion that could be easily followed by the common people.

Added to the Morals and Values:

Buddhism came attached with lessons of morality, and directed people to practice virtues like charity, purity, self-sacrifice, truthfulness, control over passions, non-injury to living creatures in thought and action. It is not that these were not known to the people as they have been mentioned in the Upanishads but it was Buddhism that put these virtues in actual practice.

Education:

Buddhism made a significant contribution in the field of education also. The Buddhist Sanghas and Viharas served as centres of education for students from far off destinations, including foreign countries, came here to receive education. Nalanda, Taxila and Vikramshila which gained reputations as great educational centres were actually originally only Buddha Viharas.

Development of Art:

A commendable contribution in the field of art, architecture, sculpture could also be seen by Buddhism. The finest architecture example can be seen in the form of viharas, mandaps, yajnashalas, altars as well as stupas. It has to be noted that Buddhists were the first ones to erect cave temples. The method of the Buddhist art was of a continuous narration and the technique used was one of the memory picture.