Bud"dha(), n. [Skr. buddha wise, sage, 'the enlightened' fr. budh to know.] 1. The title of an incarnation of self-abnegation, virtue, and wisdom.
2. The title of Siddhartha or Gautama, a deified religious teacher of the Buddhists and the founder of Buddhism; called also
Gautama Siddartha or
Sakya Sinha (or Muni). From three newly discovered inscriptions of the emperor Asoka it follows that the 37th year of his reign was reckoned as the 257th from the death of Buddha. Hence it is inferred that Buddha died between 482 and 472 B. C. It being agreed that he lived to be eighty, he was born between 562 and 552 B. C. The Buddhist narratives of his life are overgrown with legend and myth. Senart seeks to trace in them the history of the sun-hero. Oldenberg finds in the most ancient traditions -- those of Ceylon -- at least definite historical outlines. Siddhartha, as Buddha was called before entering upon his great mission, was born in the country and tribe of the Sakhyas, at the foot of the Nepalese Himalayas. His father, Suddhodana, was rather a great and wealthy landowner than a king. He passed his youth in opulence at Kapila-vastu, the Sakhya capital. He was married and had a son Rahula, who became a member of his order. At the age of twenty-nine he left parents, wife, and only son for the spiritual struggle of a recluse. After seven years he believed himself possessed of perfect truth, and assumed the title of Buddha, 'the enlightened.' He is represented as having received a sudden illumination as he sat under the Bo-tree, or ' tree of knowledge,' at Bodhgaya or Buddha-Gaya. For twenty-eight or, as later narratives give it, forty-nine days he was variously tempted by Mara. One of his doubts was whether to keep for himself the knowledge won, or to share it. Love triumphed, and he began to preach, at first at Benares. For forty-four years he preached in the region of Benares and Behar. Primitive Buddhism is only to be gathered by inference from the literature of a later time. Buddha did not array himself against the old religion. The doctrines were rather the outgrowth of those of certain Brahmanical schools. His especial concern was salvation from sorrow, and so from existence. There are "four noble truths": (1) existence is suffering; (2) the cause of pain is desire, (3) cessation of pain is possible through the suppression of desire; (4) the way to this is the knowledge and observance of the "good law " of Buddha. The end is Nirvana, the cessation of existence. Buddhism was preached in the vulgar tongue, and had a popular literature and an elaborately organized monastic and missionary system. It made its way into Afghanistan, Bactriana., Tibet, and China. It passed away in India not from Brahman persecution, but rather from internal causes, such as its too abstract nature, too morbid view of life, relaxed discipline, and overgrowth of monasticism, and also because Shivaism and Vishnuism employed many of its own weapons more effectively. The system has been variously modified in dogma and rites in the many countries to which it has spread. It is supposed to number about 850,000,000 of adherents, who are principally in Ceylon, Tibet, China, and Japan.
[Century Dict. 1906.]
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