IAS Prelims and Mains Exam: History-About Buddha and Buddhism

Buddhism is a vital portion in Ancient India and is an important portion of History in the UPSC Prelims as well as mains examination. Gautama Buddha is the founder of Buddhism. Here we are giving the important facts about Buddha and Buddhism for UPSC Civil Services Prelims as well as Mains examination.

Basic facts about Buddha

  • Siddhartha Gautama is the original name of Buddha.
  • Siddhartha Gautama was born in 624 BC, in a Sakya clan in Lumbini near Kapilvastu (Nepal).
  • He was born to Shudhodana and Mahamaya.
  • He was married to Yashodhara and he had a son Rahula.

Siddhartha Gautama to Buddha

  • When Prince Siddhartha Gautama was 29 years old he decided to abandon lay life.
  • He left his palace at 29, with Channa- the charioteer and his favourite horse, Kanthaka in search of ‘Mahabhinishkramana’ (truth).
  • He wandered for 6 years.
  • He initially meditated with Alara Kama.
  • But he was not convinced that Alara Kama could help him obtain liberation from sorrow by mental discipline and knowledge.
  • Udraka Ramputra was his second teacher.
  • He attained ‘Nirvana’ or ‘Enlightenment’ at 35 at Gaya in Magadha (Bihar) under a pipal tree.
  • He delivered the first sermon at Sarnath.
  • His first sermon is called ‘Dharmachakrapravartan’.
  • The ‘Dharmachakrapravartan’ means ‘Turning of the Wheel of Law’.
  • He attained Mahaparinirvana at Kushinagar in 544 BC at the age of 80 in the Malla republic.

Three Ratnas of Buddhism

  1. Buddha
  2. Dhamma – The teachings of Budhha
  3. Sangha – Community of Buddhist monks and nuns


Teachings of Buddha are known as Dhamma.

The Four Great Truths:

  1. The world is full of sorrow and misery.
  2. The cause of all pain and misery is desire.
  3. Pain and misery can be ended by killing or controlling the desire.
  4. Desire can be controlled by following the Eight Fold Path.

Astanga Margha

Eight-fold Path of Buddha is known as Astanga margha. The Eight fold path is:

  1. Right livelihood
  2. Right observation
  3. Right determination
  4. Right action
  5. Right meditation
  6. Right exercise
  7. Right speech
  8. Right memory

Belief in Nirvana

When desire and rebirth ends, nirvana is attained. Freedom from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth is attained by following the 8-fold path. Buddhism does not recognise the existence of God and the soul.

Belief in Ahimsa

The concept of Ahimsa means one should not cause harm to any living being, animal or man.

Law of Karma

According to the Law of Karma, Man reaps the fruits of his past deeds.


  • The word Sangha is a combination of Pali and Sanskrit languages.
  • The Sangha is most commonly referred to the monastic community of bhikkhus (monks) and bhikkhunis (nuns).
  • Apart from Sangha, the worshippers were called Upasakas.

Spread of Buddhism:

  • Pali language has a prominent role in the spread of Buddhism.
  • Emperor Ashoka and Kaniska had a keen interest in spreading Buddhism.
  • Buddha also organised the Sangha as a religious order, whose doors were open to everybody, irrespective of caste and sex.
  • They promoted education through residential universities like Valabhi, Nalanda and Vikramshila.
  • After the death of Buddha, the monks assembled four times and the effect of these events had a great impact of spreading of Buddhism.

Read more | Different Buddhist councils


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