Buddhism is a religion and dharma that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on original teachings attributed to the Buddha and resulting interpreted philosophies. Buddhism originated in ancient India sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, from where it spread through much of Asia, whereafter it declined in India during the Middle Ages. Two major extant branches of Buddhism are generally recognized by scholars: Theravada (Pali: “The School of the Elders”) and Mahayana (Sanskrit: “The Great Vehicle”). Buddhism is the world’s fourth-largest religion, with over 520 million followers or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists.
Buddhism is an Indian religion attributed to the teachings of the Buddha, supposedly born Siddhārtha Gautama, and also known as the Tathagata (“thus-gone”) and Sakyamuni (“sage of the Sakyas”). The details of Buddha’s life are mentioned in many Early Buddhist Texts but are inconsistent, and his social background and life details are difficult to prove, the precise dates uncertain.
Buddhism offers four major sites of pilgrimage: the Buddha’s birthplace at Lumbini, the site where he attained Enlightenment Bodh Gaya, where he first preached at Benaras, and where he achieved Parinirvana at Kusinagara.
Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India
- Bodh Gaya, Bihar -The site of the enlightenment of Gautama Buddha.
- Sarnath, outside Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh – The site of the first sermon.
- Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh – the site of the Buddha’s parinibbana.
- Lumbini, Southern Nepal – The birthplace of the Buddha.