HISTORY OF BUDDHISM
When the Buddha passed away in his 80th year on the full-moon day of visakha, the Venerable Kassapa, one of the Buddha’s great disciples was on the way from Pava to Kusinara with a large retinue. The news of the decease of the Master was brought to him by a naked ascetic of the Ajivika sect. All his followers, with the exception of Anagamis and Arahants, were plunged in deep grief and were weeping and lamenting. But an immoral Bhikkhu named Subhadda, who had entered the Order in his old age, was the only one that rejoiced over His death.
“Grieve not brothers,” said he “Weep not. We are now well freed from the Great Ascetic. He constantly worried us, saying –‘This is suitable, this is not suitable.’ Now we are free to do what we like.”
These words induced the Venerable Kassapa to hold a Council of leading Arahants in order to protect and preserve the purity of the Buddha’s teachings.
The Council was held at Rajagaha under the royal patronage of King Ajatasattu three months after the passing away of the Buddha. It lasted seven months. 500 arahants were chosen for the Convocation. The venerable Kassapa was the president, while the Venerable Upali and Ananda were chosen to recite the Vinaya and Dhamma respectively.
A century later in Vesali many shameless Bhikkhus of the Vajji clan were in th habit of practicing the ten unlawful points. The Venerable Yasa who came to hear of these teachings decided to invite leading There as to Assemble and decide the question.
700 Arahants under the presidency o the Venerable Sabbakami held the Second Council in order to protect the Dhamma. It was held at Valukarama in Vesali under the royal patronage of King Kalasoka.
In 325 B.C. there came to the throne of India one of the greatest men in history, Asoka Maurya. In the 18th year of his reign, about 236 years after the passing away of the Buddha, 1000 Arahants, under the presidency of the Venerable Moggalliputta Tissa, participated in the Third Council which was held at Asokarama, in Pataliputta (Patna). Its purpose was partly to suppress a number of heresies whose exponents were causing dissension in the Order by their loose teaching and even looser lives, and partly once more to revise and confirm the canon.
One of the momentous results of this Council was the sending of missionaries to different countries to propagate the Suddhamma. Mahindha, the son of Asoka, and Sanghamitta, the King’s daughter, were charged with missionary work in the island of Ceylon. From the edicts of Asoka we know of the various Buddhist missions he sent to far-off countries in Asia, Africa and Europe. It is, to a large extent, due to these missionary activities that Buddhism became the ruling religion of large part of mankind.
Ascetic, n. a person who leads a religious life of hardship.
Assemble, v. to come together; to gather together; to collect.
Clan, n. a group of families with a common ancestor.
Confirm, v. to make firm; to strengthen; to establish; to prove the truth.
Decease, n. death.
Dissension, n. a difference of opinion; disagreement; quarrelling.
Edict, n. an official public proclamation or order issued by authority.
Exponent, n. a person or thing that explains or sets forth; an example.
Grieve, v. to feel deep sorrow.
Heresy, n. a religious belief opposed to the orthodox doctrines of a church.
Induce, v. to persuade; to influence; to lead or cause (a person) to do something.
Last, v. to continue; to go no; to remain in good condition; to be enough.
Missionary, n. a person sent out by his church to preach, teach and spread knowledge of his religion in a foreign country, esp. among people who are ignorant of it.
Momentous, adj. very important or serious.
Naked, adj. having no clothes on; uncovered.
Participate, v. to take part; to have a share (in).
Patronage, n. support; help.
Plunge, v. to throw or force suddenly (in to a liquid, hole, etc.).
Preserve, v. to keep from harm, danger, evil, etc.; to protect; to save.
Propagation, n. the act of spreading, making widely known or more plentiful.
Rejoice, n. to be glad, happy, or delighted; to be full of joy.
Respectively, adj. with respect to each of two or more, in the order named or mentioned.
Retinue, n. a number of persons (servants, attendants, etc.) how accompany a person of rank.
Revise, v. to read over carefully; to correct and improve or bring up-to-date.
Sect, n. a group of people holding the same opinions in religion.
Suppress, v. to put down by force; to crush: to keep from appearing or being known; to stop.
HISTORY OF BUDDHISM
As centuries drew on Buddhism in India decayed. The Brahmins and the polytheistic fancy of the Hindus were too much for it, and the finishing stroke was given by the Moslem invasion in the 12th century. After about 1200 it survived only in Nepal, Sikkim, and Bhutan, where it still prevails.
But in Ceylon the Buddhist missionaries, headed by Mahinda Thera, who were sent by Emperor Esoka, succeeded in converting the king and the people of Ceylon to Buddhism. Within a short time the whole of the island of Ceylon became a stronghold of Buddhism. Two important Councils were held there. The first of these was held under the president ship of the Venerable Arittha Thera at Thuparama in Anuradhapura after the arrival of the Buddhist missionaries during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa. The next Council was held at Aloka Cave during the time of King Vattagamani Abhaya (101-77 B.C.). As many as 500 learned Bhikkhus took part in the deliberations under the presidentship of Mahathera Rakkhita. At the end of the Second Council, the Canon along with the commentaries were inscribed on palm-leaves in order to preserve the purity of the original teachings.
The Buddhist world owes a great debt to Ceylon. As mentioned above, the Pali Canon has been preserved in its entirely in this island and Ceylonese Buddhism had great influence upon Burma, Cambodia, Siam and Laos, the only other countries where Theravada Buddhism flourishes today. Ceylon was not merely a passive recipient; it contributed to the development of Buddhism through its Commentaries.
According to the tradition preserved in the Ceylonese chronicles, two Buddhist monks, name Sona and Uttara, were sent by Emperor Asoka to preach Buddhism in Suvarnabhumi which is generally identified with Thailand. The location of Suvarnabhumi is , however, not beyond dispute. For. While some identify it with Thailand., others place it in Buram or take it to denote broadly the whole of Indochina. Buddhism, however, flourished in this region from a very early period, about the first or second century A.D., if not earlier. And today Thailand, Burma, Laos and Cambodia are, like Ceylon, strongholds of the Theravada School.
During the first 300 years after the death of the Buddha, when Buddhism was spreading throughout India and to Ceylon, men of northern Asia, following the trade routes across the Himalayas, took news of the new religion of enlightenment back to China.
Buddhist monks made their way northward as missionaries and Chinese pilgrims traveled in the opposite direction. Among these were two travelers whose journeys are of great importance I the history of Buddhism.
One, Fa-Hsien, left China in 399 A.D. and spent 15 years in India. The other traveling monk, Hsiian-Tsang, left China in 629 A.D., crossed the Gobi desert, spent 16 years in India and returned laden with boos and manuscripts. He and his pupils translated much of Buddhist literature into Chinese. And the court of the great Tang dynasty emperor became filled with converts to Buddhism.
Also in the seventh century A.D., a great Japanese prince, Shotoku Taishi (572-622 A.D.), was converted to Buddhism. Under state protection it quickly attained the position of the most powerful religious and cultural influence in the land.Soon afterward a Buddhist monk crossed the mountains into Tibet. There has been preached a peculiar form of the Doctrine now known as Tibetan Lamaism.
Wherever it went, Buddhism brought with it high ideals: tolerance, nonviolence, respect for the individuals in all walks of life, love of animals and of nature. But the type of Buddhism practiced in China, Japan and Tibet differs from the Theravada Buddhism of South Asia.
Chronicle, n. a record or account of events written in the order of their happening; a historical record according to date.
Contribute, v. to have a share in; to help to bring about.
Convert, v. to change from one religion to another.
Deliberations, n.(pl.) consideration and debate.
Denote, v. to mark; to indicate; to mean; to refer to; to be name of.
Entirety, n. wholeness; completeness; whole; total.
Fancy, n. an unfounded opinion or belief; imagination; illusion or delusion.
Flourish, v. to succeed; to prosper : to be at the peak of development, activity, influence, etc.
Identify, v. to make, to treat or consider as being the same.
Inscribe, n. to make or engrave (words, symbols, etc.) on some surface; to mark or engrave (a surface) with words, symbols, etc.
Invasion, n. an entering or being entered by and attacking army
Laden, adj. loaded; burdened.
Location, n. a position or place.
Manuscript, n. a book or paper written by hand, not printed.
Original, adj. first : earliest : of or relating to the beginning; new; not copied
Peculiar, adj. belonging to no other; particular; special; strange; odd.
Pilgrim, n. a person who travels, usually on foot, to a sacred place.
Polytheism, n. belief in or worship of many gods, or more than one god; opposed to monotheism.
Prevail, v. to be or become widespread.
Recipient, n. one who or that which receives.
Route, n. the way from one place to another; the road which one follows.
Stronghold, n. a place having strong defences; a safe place ; a place where a cause or an idea is strongly supported.
Survive, v. to continue to live or exist.
Tolerance, n. willingness to allow others to hold opinions or follow customs different from one’s own.