Buddhism UPSC Notes | EduRev

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The document Buddhism UPSC Notes | EduRev is a part of the UPSC Course History(Prelims) by UPSC Toppers.
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  • Gautama Buddha, founder of Buddhismm was born, was born in 563 BC at Lumbinivana in Kapilvastu in the Sakya Kshatriya clan.
    Buddhism UPSC Notes | EduRev
  • His father Suddodhana was the king of Kapilvastu and mother Mahamaya was a princess of Kosala dynasty.
  • Mahaprajapati Gautami was the step mother of Gautama.
  • He was married to Yasodhara (Princess of Kolli dynasty) from whom he had a son Rahul.
  • At the age of 29, he renounced home this was his Mahabhinishkramana (great going forth) and became a wandering ascetic.
  • His first teacher was Alara Kalama. Another teacher was Udraka Ramputra.
  • At the age of 35 under a pepal tree at Uruvella ( Bodh Gaya) on the bank of river Niranjana (modern name Falgu) attained Nirvana (enlightern-ment)after 49 days of continuous meditation
  • Buddha delivered his first sermon at Sarnath (Dear park) to his five deciples, this is known as Dharmachakra Pravartana (Turning of the wheel of law).
  • Ananda and Upali were his famous disciples.
  • Sujata was the farmer’s daughter who gave him rice milk at Bodha Gaya
  • He died at the age of 80 in 483 BC at Kushinagar. This is known as Mahaparinirvana
  • Eight great places associated with Buddhism are Lumbini, Sarnath, Sravasti, Rajgriha, Bodh Gaya, Kushinagar, Sankisa and Vaishali. Patliputra is not associated with Buddha
  • Ashoka, the greatest patron of Buddhism, called 3rd Buddhist council & sent mission comprises of his son Mahendra & his daughter Sanghamitra to Sri Lanka.
  • Palas of Bengal & Bihar were last great patrons of Buddhism


Events associated with Buddha’s life

Events associated with Buddha’s life
   Great Events of Buddha’s Life 
Janma (Birth)
Mahabhnishkramana (Renunciation)
Nirvana (Enlightenment)
 Bodhi tree
Drarmachakra pravartana (First Sermon)
Mahaparinirvana (Death)


Buddhist Architecture

  1. Stupa – Relices of the Buddha or some prominent Buddhist monks are preserved.
  2. Chaitya – Prayer hall
  3. Vihara – Residence of monks and ascetics

Buddhism UPSC Notes | EduRevBuddhist Architecture

Doctrine of Buddhism

Four Noble Truths

  1. This world is full of sufferings
  2. Desire is the root cause of sufferings
  3. The cessation of sufferings is attainable
  4. The cessation of sufferings can be attained by following the “Eight Fold Path”
  • According to Buddhist philosophy the ultimate aim of life is to attain nirvana, the eternal state of peace and bliss, which means liberation from the cycle of birth and death
  • According to Buddhist philosophy the world is momentary
  • The interesting fact about Buddhist philosophy is that while it believes in cycle of birth and death it  does not believe in the concept of soul
  • “The Middle Path” of Buddhism states that man should avoid both extremes
  • Triratna i.e. Three Jewels of Buddhism are
  1. Buddha
  2. Dharma
  3. Sangha


Buddhist literature

Milindapanho (i.e. Questions of Milinda): A dialogue between Milinda (identical with Indo-Greek ruler Menander) and Buddhist saint Nagasena is the only text in Sanskrit.

Buddhism UPSC Notes | EduRev

Pali Texts

1.Tripitaka: Pitaka literally means ‘basket’ and it was called so, because the original texts were written on palm-leaves and kept in baskets. Tripatika refers to three commentaries, these are as:

  • Sutta Pitaka – It contain the sayings of Buddha. It contains the five groups

i.   Dighgha Nikaya

ii.  Majhim Nikaya

iii. Sanyukta Nikaya

iv. Anguttar Nikaya

v. Kshudraka Nikaya

  • Vinay Pitaka – It contain the monastic code, the most important is Patimoksha
  • Abhidamma Pitaka – It consists of the religious and metaphysical discourses of Buddha

2.Dipavamsha & Mahavamsha – The great chronicles of Sri Lanka.

3.Visshudhimagga by Buddhagosha


Buddhist councils

First Council

The first Buddhist council was held at Rajgriha in 483 B.C. under the patronage of Ajatshatru. It took place just after the death of Lord Buddha. The compilation of Sutta Pitak and Vinay Pitak took place during this council.

Second Council

It took place after 100 years of the death of Lord Buddha i.e. 383 in B.C. It took place in Vaishali under the patronage of king Kalashoka, it was presided by Sabakami. The schism took place in this council on the issue of rules and discipline. As a result two groups, Mahasanghika and Therivadi (Sthavirvadin) were formed.

Third Council

It took place in Patliputra under the patronage of Ashoka. It was presided by Mogliputta Tisa. It is also known as the council of Therivadins. “Katthavattu” was added to the Abhidhama Patika during this council.

However, none of the Ashokan inscription gives us the information about the council.

Fourth Council

It was held in Kundalgrama in Kashmir. The president of the council was Vasumitra and the vice president was Ashvagosha. Mahavibhasha, the doctrine of Sravastivadin was written in Sanskrit in copper plate and enclosed in the stone boxes.

During this council the two sects of Buddhism i.e. Hinayana and Mahayana were formed officially.


Sects of Buddhism

The three sects of Buddhism are Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayan


  1. Its followers believed in the original teaching of Buddha.
  2. They sought individual salvation through self-discipline and meditation.
  3. Followers of this do not believe in idol-worship and historicity of Buddha.
  4. This sect treat Lord Buddha as a teacher and not as God
  5. The literature of this sect is mainly in Pali.
  6. It is known as ‘Southern Buddhist Religion’, because it prevailed in the South of India, e.g. Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar), Syam (Thailand), Java etc.
  7. There were two sub sects of Hinayana i.e. Vaibhasika and Sautantrika.


  1. Its followers believed in the historicity of Buddha.
  2. They sought the salvation of all through the grace and help of Buddha & Bodhisatva
  3. This sect believes in idol-worship.
  4. This sect treat Buddha as God
  5. The literature of this sect is compiled in Sanskrit language.
  6. It is known as ‘Northern Buddhist Religion’, because it prevailed in the North of India, e.g. China, Korea, Japan, etc.
  7. There were two sub sects of Mahayana


  1.  Madhyamika or Shunyavada: Founded by  Nagarjuna
  2.  Yogachar or Vijananavada: Founded by Maitreyanath and his disciple Asanga.


  1. Its followers believed that salvation could be best attained by acquiring the magical power i.e. Vajra.
  2. The sect developed in Tibet
  3. The sect believe in worship of female deities
  4. The chief divinities of this new sect were the Taras.
  5. It became popular in Eastern India, particularly Bengal and Bihar.
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