Buddhism in the 6th Century B.C.: Sects, Dharma Chakra, and Stupas

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Into how many categories the religious sects that originated during the 6th century B.C. can be divided? Ans.

The religious sects of the 6th century B.C. can be divided into two categories:

  1. The faiths which were openly against Vedic religion
  2. The faiths which did not oppose Vedic religion openly but propagated new principles venerating one or the other old divinity.

What do you mean by “Dharma Chakra Pravartana”? Ans.

Dharma Chakra Pravartana means ‘sitting in motion the wheel of Dharma’. The first religious discourse or sermon delivered by Mahatma Buddha after attaining enlightenment at Mrig dav or Deer Park of Sarnath near Varanasi, is known as ‘Maha chakra Pravartana’

Mention the various incarnations of Vishnu according to Vaishnavism. Ans.

According to Vaishnavism there are ten incarnations of Vishnu. These are: Matsya, Kurma, Varsha, Narsimha, Vamana, Parsurama, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, and Kalki

Mention four places associated with the life of the Buddha. Ans.

  1. Lumbini (birthplace of the Buddha)
  2. Kapilvastu (the Buddha was brought up here)
  3. Bodh Gaya (the Buddha attained enlightenment here)
  4. Sarnath- (the Buddha delivered his first religious discourse here).

What was the Buddha Sangha? Discuss its characteristics. Ans.

  1. Buddha founded organization of monks called “Sangha”.
  2. These monks served as teachers of “Dhamma”. They believed a simple life.
  3. They possessed only the essential things which were required for their survival.
  4. Earlier only men were allowed to joined the ‘Sangha’, later on the women were allowed for admission to the Sangha.
  5. All the members were regarded as equal in the Sangha.

How Buddhist text were prepared and preserved?

The Buddha used to give teachings through debate and discussion. Men, Women and children attended these discussions and discussed what they heard. None of his teachings were written down during his life time. After his death, his followers called a council of elders at Vaishali. This council compiled all of his teachings. These complications were known as Tripitaka which literally means the tree baskets to hold different types of text. Firstly, they were transmitted orally and then written and classified according to their subject matter and length. When Buddhism spread to new lands like Sri Lanka, other texts like Mahavamsa and Dipavamsa were written. Many Pilgrims like FaXian and Xuan Zang carried Buddhist texts with them to disseminate the teachings of Buddha.

Discuss how and why Stupas were built? Ans.

  1. Inscription found on the railings and pillars of stupas record donations made for building and decorating them.
  2. Some donations were made by kings such as the Satavahanas; others were made by guilds.
  3. Such as that of the ivory workers who financed part of one of the gateways at Sanchi.
  4. Hundreds of donations were made by women and men who mention their names.
  5. Sometimes adding the name of the place from where they came, as well as their occupations and names of their relatives.
  6. Bhikkhus and bhikkhun is also contributed towards building these monuments.
  7. Stupas were built for many reasons –
  • There were other places too that were regarded as sacred. This was because relics of the Buddha such as his bodily remains or object used by him were buried there. These were mounds known as stupas.
  • The tradition of erecting stupas may have been pre-Buddhist, but they came to be associated with Buddhism.

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