BUDDHISM

BUDDHISM

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Young Theravada Buddhist
monks in Myanmar

Buddhism is the name given relatively recently by Westerners to vast body of teachings attributed to Gautama Siddhartha, The Buddha. In the Buddha’s time his teachings were known as Dharma (Dhamma), meaning "what is right and what ought to be.” For many centuries Buddhism was a code adopted by people of a variety of religious beliefs and The Buddha was more of a social philosopher than a religious leader. As time went on Gautama Siddhartha was deified into The Buddha and miraculous powers were attributed to him.

Joshua Hammer wrote in Smithsonian magazine, “Based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, the Indian prince who renounced worldly pursuits and attained enlightenment beneath a banyan tree around 500 B.C., Buddhism Is a belief system that "holds that satisfactions are transitory, life is filled with suffering, and the only way to escape the eternal cycle of birth and rebirth—determined by karma, or actions—is to follow what is known as the Noble Eightfold Path, with an emphasis on rightful intention, effort, mindfulness and concentration. Buddhism stresses reverence for the Buddha, his teachings (Dhamma) and the monks (Sangha)—and esteems selflessness and good works, or “making merit.” At the heart of it is vipassana meditation, introduced by the Buddha himself. Behind vipassana lies the concept that all human beings are sleepwalking through life, their days passing by them in a blur. Only by slowing down, and concentrating on sensory stimuli alone, can one grasp how the mind works and reach a state of total awareness." [Source: Joshua Hammer, Smithsonian magazine, September 2012]

Even today some scholars insist that Buddhism is not a religion because it is not focused on a god or godhead and does not prepare individuals for the afterlife but rather is "a system of morality and philosophy based on the belief that life is too full of suffering to be worth living” and is a “discipline for governing man’s attitude for the here and now, the present conditions, and, if properly and diligently carried out, will lead gradually but surely to what is best, the highest good.”

Buddhism’s success in attracting believers has been at least partly attributed to the universality of its ethical teaching and the flexibility of its spiritual message. The goal of Buddhism is to reach a transcendent state that completely absorbs the mind and soul and makes the material world meaningless, bringing freedom and peace to the individual worshiper. It also promotes a code of conduct for the community and the individual that provides a framework for a peaceful society and peace of mind.

It can be argued that Buddhism is a more tolerant and peaceful religion than other major religions such as Islam, Judaism or Christianity. Buddhist sects have had periods of conflict, but rarely engaged in wars of conquest, Inquisitions, pogroms or persecution. Today it is not uncommon for Buddhists of different sects to pray and meditate under the same roof. Buddhism though is not violence free . In medieval Japan, rival Buddhist sects lived in fortified monasteries and had their own monk armies. In Sri Lanka, the war between the Buddhist majority and a Hindu minority has at times been quite brutal and nasty.

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Mahayana Buddhist monks
chanting in Japan
On the success of Buddhism, Prof. Max Mueller, a German philosopher and influential post-World War II Catholic intellectual, wrote: "To my mind...Buddhism has always seemed to be not a new religion, but a natural development of the Indian mind in its various manifestations, religious, philosophical, social and political." Jayaram V, an expert of Indian religions, said, "The Buddha reset the native thinking and breathed fresh life into certain ancient beliefs providing them with a new perspective and interpretation that was indisputably a product of human intellect with its roots firmly entrenched in virtue and righteous conduct.”

There are three main Buddhist sects: 1) Theravada Buddhism, 2) Mahayana Buddhism, and 3) Vajrayana (Tibetan Buddhism and Tantrism).

Websites and Resources on Buddhism: Buddha Net buddhanet.net/e-learning/basic-guide ; Religious Tolerance Page religioustolerance.org/buddhism ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Internet Sacred Texts Archive sacred-texts.com/bud/index ; Introduction to Buddhism webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/buddhaintro ; Early Buddhist texts, translations, and parallels, SuttaCentral suttacentral.net ; East Asian Buddhist Studies: A Reference Guide, UCLA web.archive.org ; View on Buddhism viewonbuddhism.org ; Tricycle: The Buddhist Review tricycle.org ; BBC - Religion: Buddhism bbc.co.uk/religion ; Buddhist Centre thebuddhistcentre.com; A sketch of the Buddha's Life accesstoinsight.org ; What Was The Buddha Like? by Ven S. Dhammika buddhanet.net ; Jataka Tales (Stories About Buddha) sacred-texts.com ; Illustrated Jataka Tales and Buddhist stories ignca.nic.in/jatak ; Buddhist Tales buddhanet.net ; Arahants, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas by Bhikkhu Bodhi accesstoinsight.org ; Victoria and Albert Museum vam.ac.uk/collections/asia/asia_features/buddhism/index

Books: “Buddhism Explained” by Phra Khantipalo; “Buddhism, Imperialism and War” by Trevor Ling; “Buddhism in the Modern World” edited Heinrich Dumoulin; “Buddhism in Transition” by Donald K. Swearer; “Buddhist Dictionary” by Mahathera Nyanatiloka;” Th Central Concetion of Buddhism” by Th Stcherbatsky; “What the Buddha Thought” by Walpola Rahula; “Buddha Stories” by Demi (New York: Henry Holt & Company, Inc., 1997); “Buddhism” by Madhu Bazaz Wangu, Facts on File, New York, 1993; “Buddhism” by Christmas Humphrey (Pelican); “Siddhartha” by Herman Hesse. Also recommended are books by the Dalai Lama, Robert Thurman, a respected Buddhist scholar and former Tibetan Buddhist monk; and Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk from Vietnam who has been involved with various anti-war activities. Film: “Little Buddha”

Buddhists


Tibetan monks debating

Buddhism has around 379 million followers (6 percent of the world’s population. It is the world's fifth largest religion, behind Christianity with 2.1 billion followers, Islam with 1.3 billion, Hinduism with 870 million, and traditional Chinese religion with 405 million. About 98 percent of the world’s Buddhist live in Asia. Of the other six million 3.1 million live in the U.S. And Canada, 1.64 million live in Europe, 710,000 lives in Latin American, 500,000 are in Oceania and 150,00 are in Africa. [Source: National Geographic]

World religions: 1) Christianity (33 percent); 2) Islam (20 percent); 3) non-religious and atheist (15.4 percent); 4) Hinduism (13 percent); 5) Chinese folk religions (6 percent); 6) Buddhist (6 percent); and 7) Other (7 percent).

The highest concentrations of devout Buddhists are found in Southeast Asia and the Himalayas. In eastern Asia, many Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and other nationalities, who do not necessarily consider themselves Buddhists, incorporate many Buddhist beliefs into their religious and world view. Buddhism is also the fastest growing religion among well-educated, white middle class Americans.

Buddhists practices vary from sect to sect. Some sects have mysterious rituals and expel demons though exorcism. Others stress asceticism and quiet meditation. Other still put emphasis on philosophical speculation and community service. Buddhism developed out Hinduism and absorbed elements of shamanist religions that existed before it. Elements of these religions live on in within the sects to varying degrees in terms of reverence towards Hindu gods, saints, natural spirits and ghosts.

Buddhism: Religion of Philosophy?

According to the Asia Society Museum: “Buddhism is a religion that is still widely practiced across Asia. It offers a spiritual path for transcending the suffering of existence. The endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth (samsara), to which all living beings are subject, renews the suffering incurred by one's karma, the sum of good and bad actions that accumulates over many lives. Release from this endless cycle is achieved only by attaining enlightenment, the goal for which Buddhists strive. [Source:Asia Society Museum asiasocietymuseum.org |~| ]

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Buddhism is a philosophical and ethical system with the Buddha as its greatly revered founder. Guided by the Middle Path, which rejects both luxury and asceticism, Buddhism proposes a life of good thoughts, good intentions, and straight living, all with the ultimate aim of achieving nirvana, release from earthly existence. For most beings, nirvana lies in the distant future, because Buddhism, like other faiths that originated in India, believes in a cycle of rebirth. Humans are born many times on earth, each time with the opportunity to perfect themselves further. And it is their own karma-the sum total of deeds, good and bad-that determines the circumstances of a future birth. [Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art]

According to the BBC: “Buddhism is a spiritual tradition that focuses on personal spiritual development and the attainment of a deep insight into the true nature of life. Buddhists seek to reach a state of nirvana, following the path of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, who went on a quest for Enlightenment around the sixth century BC. The history of Buddhism is the story of one man's spiritual journey to enlightenment, and of the teachings and ways of living that developed from it. [Source: BBC |::|]

“There is no belief in a personal god. Buddhists believe that nothing is fixed or permanent and that change is always possible. The path to Enlightenment is through the practice and development of morality, meditation and wisdom. Buddhists believe that life is both endless and subject to impermanence, suffering and uncertainty. These states are called the tilakhana, or the three signs of existence. Existence is endless because individuals are reincarnated over and over again, experiencing suffering throughout many lives. It is impermanent because no state, good or bad, lasts forever. Our mistaken belief that things can last is a chief cause of suffering.” |::|


Buddhism around the world: percentage by country


Buddhist Sources on Buddhism

O Buddha, the worship of thee consists in doing good to the world.—Bhakti Sataka. [Source:“The Essence of Buddhism” Edited by E. Haldeman-Julius, 1922, Project Gutenberg ]

Should those who are not with us, O Brethren, speak in dispraise of me, or of my doctrine, or of the church, that is no reason why you should give way to anger.—Brahma-jala-sutta.

Buddha, Why should there be such sorrowful contention? You honor what we honor, both alike: then we are brothers as concerns religion.—Fo-sho-hing-tsan-king.

No decrying of other sects, ... no depreciation (of others) without cause, but on the contrary, rendering of honor to other sects for whatever cause honor is due. By so doing, both one's sect will be helped forward, and other sects benefited; by acting otherwise, one's own sect will be destroyed in injuring others.—Rock Inscriptions of Asoka.

Who is a (true) spiritual teacher? He who, having grasped the essence of things, ever seeks to be of use to other beings. —Prasnottaramalika.

Tell him ... I look for no recompense—not even to be born in heaven—but seek ... the benefit of men, to bring back those who have gone astray, to enlighten those living in dismal error, to put away all sources of sorrow and pain from the world.—Fo-pen-hing-tsih-king.

Ye, then, my followers, ... give not way ... to sorrow; ... aim to reach the home where separation cannot come.—Fo-sho-hing-tsan-king.

Buddhist Sources on Mankind

Because he has pity upon every living creature, therefore is a man called "holy." —Dhammapada. [Source: “The Essence of Buddhism” Edited by E. Haldeman-Julius, 1922, Project Gutenberg]

Let a man say that which is right, not that which is unrighteous, ... that which is pleasing, not that which is unpleasing, ... that which is true, not that which is false.—Subhasita-sutta.

Who, though he be cursed by the world, yet cherishes no ill-will towards it. —Sammaparibbajaniya-sutta. He who holds up a torch to (lighten) mankind is always honored by me.—Rahula-sutta.


Buddhist expansion


Born to give joy and bring peace to the world.—Fo-pen-hing-tsih-king.

Then the man ... said to himself: "I will not keep all this treasure to myself; I will share it with others." Upon this he went to king Brahmadatta, and said: ... "Be it known to you I have discovered a treasure, and I wish it to be used for the good of the country."—Fo-pen-hing-tsih-king.

The sorrow of others enters into the hearts of good men as water into the soil.—Story of Haritika.

An example for all the earth.—Fo-sho-hing-tsan-king.

Buddhist Sources on Religion and God

Wherein does religion consist? In (committing) the least possible harm, in (doing) abundance of good, in (the practice of) pity, love, truth, and likewise purity of life.—Pillar Inscriptions of Asoka. [Source: “The Essence of Buddhism” Edited by E. Haldeman-Julius, 1922, Project Gutenberg]

(Not superstitious rites, but) kindness to slaves and servants, reverence towards venerable persons, self-control with respect to living creatures, ... these and similar (virtuous actions are the rites which ought indeed to be performed.)—Rock Inscriptions of Asoka.

The practice of religion involves as a first principle a loving, compassionate heart for all creatures.—Fo-pen-hing-tsih-king.

Shall we in worshipping slay that which hath life? This is like those who practice wisdom, and the way of religious abstraction, but neglect the rules of moral conduct.—Fo-sho-hing-tsan-king.

How can a system requiring the infliction of misery on other beings be called a religious system?... To seek a good by doing an evil is surely no safe plan.—Fo-pen-hing-tsih-king. Unto the dumb lips of his flock he lent Sad pleading words, showing how man, who prays For mercy to the gods, is merciless. —Sir Edwin Arnold.

I then will ask you, if a man, in worshipping ... sacrifices a sheep, and so does well, wherefore not his child, ... and so do better? Surely ... there is no merit in killing a sheep!—Fo-pen-hing-tsih-king.


Basic Buddhist beliefs


Religion he looks upon as his best ornament.—Fo-sho-hing-tsan-king.

Worship consists in fulfilling the design (of the person honored), not in offerings of perfumes, garlands, and the like.—Jatakamala.

Compassion for all creatures is the true religion.—Buddha-charita.

Religion means self-sacrifice.—Rukemavati.

The acts and the practice of religion, to wit, sympathy, charity, truthfulness, purity, gentleness, kindness.—Pillar Inscriptions of Asoka.

But if others walk not righteously, we ought by righteous dealing to appease them: in this way, ... we cause religion everywhere to take deep hold and abide.—Fo-sho-hing-tsan-king.

The loving Father of all that lives.—Tsing-tu-wan.

Our loving Father, and Father of all that breathes.—Daily Manual of the Shaman.

Even so of all things that have ... life, there is not one that (the Buddhist anchorite) passes over; ... he looks upon all with ... deep-felt love. This, verily, ... is the way to a state of union with God.—Tevijja-sutta.

Basic Concepts of Buddhism

According to “The World of Buddhism: Buddhist Monks and Nuns in Society and Culture”: "For the Buddhist, the universe is a place of delusion and suffering, in which living beings — who are, if they but knew it, mere collections of "aggregates", forever fickle and changing — are condemned by their passions [desires] to an endless cycle of rebirths." (Heinz Bechert and Richard Gombrick, eds., The World of Buddhism: Buddhist Monks and Nuns in Society and Culture [London: Thames and Hudson, 1984], p. 28.)

According to “Topics in Japanese Cultural History”: “The basic teaching of the Buddha is called the Dharma, a term that also has other meanings in Buddhist theology that need not concern us here. The symbol of the Dharma is a wheel, particularly one with eight spokes. The core of the Dharma consists of two parts: the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. The Four Noble Truths summarize the Buddha's insight into the nature of reality and human existence. The Eightfold Path is a method, a series of steps, by which a person can retrace the Buddha's own quest for enlightenment. [Source: “Topics in Japanese Cultural History” by Gregory Smits, Penn State University figal-sensei.org ~]

"The Four Noble Truths" embodies the essence of the Buddha's teachings. First, all life is suffering, second, suffering stems from desire, third, suffering can only end with the elimination of desire, fourth, this is achieved by following the Eightfold Path, focused on meditation, moral training, and discipline. Only by following these teachings can the individual reach enlightenment, or salvation, and, after death, the transcendent state known as nirvana. [Source:: Monks and Merchants, curated by Annette L. Juliano and Judith A. Lerner, November 17, 2001,Asia Society Museum asiasocietymuseum.org == ]


Four Noble Truths


Buddhism as a Religion, Philosophy, Psychology and a Science

On Buddhism as a Religion, Piyadassi Thera, a Sri Lanka monk who studied at Harvard, wrote: “To all Buddhists the question of religion and its origin, is not a metaphysical one. But a philosophical and an intellectual one. Religion is no real creed or a code of revelation or fear of the unknown fear of a supernatural being who rewards and punishes his good deeds and ill deeds. In other words it is not a theological concern. But rather a philosophical and an intellectual concern resulting from the experience of suffering, conflicts, unsatisfactoriness of the empirical existence of the nature of life. The Buddhist way of life is an intensed process of cleansing one's speech action and thought. It is self development and self-purification resulting in self-realization. The emphasis is on practical results and not on mere philosophical speculation or logical abstraction or even mere cogitation.

“Buddhism as a Philosophy: From the point of view of philosophy, Buddha was not concerned with the problems that have worried philosophers both of the East and West from the beginning of history. He was not concerned with metaphysical problems which only confused man and upset his mental equilibrium. Their solution he knew will not free mankind from suffering from the unsatisfactory nature of life. That was why the Buddha hesitated to answer such questions as "Is the world eternal or not ?" "Has the world an end or not?" What is the origin of the world?" So on and so forth.

“Buddhism as a Psychology: Buddhism also is the most psychological of religions. It is significant that the intricate workings of the human mind are more fully dealt with in Buddhism rather than in any other religion and therefore psychology works hand in hand with Buddhism than with any other religion. Is Buddhism related to modern psychology ? one may ask. Yes, but with some differences. Buddhism is more concerned with the curative rather than the analysis. Psychology helps us to understand life intellectualy. Meditation goes beyond the intellect to the actual experience of life itself. Through Meditation the Buddha had discovered the deeper universal melodies of the human heart and mind.

“Buddhism as a Science: The remarkable insight into the workings of the mind derived through investigation makes the Buddha the supreme psychologist cum scientist. Admittedly, his way of arriving at these truths of mental life is not that of a experimentalist. Yet, what the Buddha had discovered remains true and infact has been corroborated by the experimentalists. But the purpose of engaging in these inquiries is quite different from that of the scientist. The statement of the Buddha about nature of the mind and matter are directed towards specific ends. They are simply the deliverance of man, supreme security from bondage of suffering.”


Dharmachakra, symbol of the eightfold path


Uniqueness of Buddhism

The Buddha said "Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it; not in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations; not in anything because it is spoken and rumoured by many; not in anything because it is found written in your spiritual texts; not in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders, but only after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it". (Kalama Sutta).

The Sri Lankan monk Aryadasa Ratnasinghe wrote: “Buddhism stands unique since it denies in the existence of a soul (ego). Buddha said that the idea of a soul is an imaginary, false and baseless belief, which has no corresponding reality, but produces harmful thoughts, selfish desire, craving, attachment, hatred, ill-will, conceit, pride, egoism and other defilements, impurities and problems. In short, to this false view can be traced all the evils in the world which we experience. Soul is usually explained as the principle of life, the ultimate identity of a person or the immortal constituent of self.

“Among the founders of world religions, the Buddha was the only teacher who did not claim to be a prophet, or incarnation of a god or a super being above mankind. He was a man pure and simple, and devoted his entire life to holiness. He was a noble prince of the Sakya clan, the only son of king Suddhodana of the ancient Kapilavattu (modern Piprawa on the Nepal border in North India).”

Hinduism and Buddhism

S.Rahdhakrishnan, an Indian philosopher and statesman, wrote "Buddhism, in its origin at least is an offshoot of Hinduism." According to Rhys Davids, a British scholar of the Pali language: “Gautama was born and brought up and lived and died a Hindu...There was not much in the metaphysics and principles of Gautama which cannot be found in one or other of the orthodox systems, and a great deal of his morality could be matched from earlier or later Hindu books." [Source: Hinduwebsite.com]

According to “Topics in Japanese Cultural History”: “In the Buddha's day, several religious traditions existed on the Indian subcontinent, the most important of which was Hinduism. Hinduism is a broad term (much like Christianity) to designate a large number of different but related systems of religious belief and practice. Hinduism is so complex that we cannot possibly do it justice here. Our concern is simply with a few major tenets of Hinduism that became a major influence on Buddhism. [Source: “Topics in Japanese Cultural History” by Gregory Smits, Penn State University figal-sensei.org ~]

DharmaWheelGIF
rotating dharma wheel

“In many of its forms, Hinduism is much concerned with cycles of creation and destruction. The most important Hindu deities, for example, are sometimes depicted simultaneously destroying and creating. Such deities serve as symbols of the forces of nature, which both create and destroy without cease. One creator/destroyer deity is Shiva, the cosmic dancer. Shiva is usually depicted as male, and one of his symbols is the linga (phallus). But some depictions of Shiva show "him" with female features or with both male and female features. If depicted clearly as a male deity, Shiva is often depicted with a female counterpart. Such images of Shiva emphasize his role in creation, but Shiva, is also a destroyer. His cosmic dance takes away life for some while giving it to others. Other examples of creator/destroyer deities are Kali and Durga, who are almost always depicted as female. ~

“Deities like Shiva, Kali, and Durga are concrete representations of a key concept in Hinduism and Buddhism: reincarnation, also called transmigration. As it applies to sentient beings, when a person or animal dies, its vital forces become re-embodied and it is born into a new life. When that life is over, it is reborn again, over and over. This cycle of reincarnation, called Samsara is like a prison in which we are trapped. Why? Stated somewhat crudely, because we can never die and stay dead. Think about the prospect of never dying — it would be terrifying for many people. ~

“Samsara is closely connected with karma. In Hinduism, the word karma has three closely related meanings. Most basically, it is any mental or physical deed. Karma is also the consequence of any mental or physical deed, and by extension, it can also mean the sum of all consequences of a person's mental and physical deeds in a past or present life. When speaking of karma in this third meaning, it is more accurate to use a term like "karmic situation" or "karmic balance." ~

“Buddhist conceptions of karma were similar to those of Hindus. Early Buddhists stressed the role of karma in powering or driving the process of reincarnation. In this context, think of karma as energy connected with desires and cravings that seeks re-embodiment after death (there are other meanings of karma in Buddhist theology, but we will not take them up here). People want things, strive to attain goals, crave certain sensations, covet certain possessions, yearn for a better life, and so forth. These wants, strivings, cravings, covetings, and yearnings are a form of energy. Indeed, they produce significant, palpable effects: sleeplessness, higher blood pressure, ulcers, other physiological changes, as well as behavior such as working overtime, not working (in the case of coveting short-term ease or comfort), crime, heroism, and so forth. Our desires and other powerful emotions, in other words, propel us from one birth to the next. This concept has a certain intuitive appeal, for of course it is literally a burst of desire or passion that causes births. ~

“This idea of karma has several implications. First, it suggests that our mental and physical deeds in the present lifetime will have an effect in determining the nature of our rebirth. In other words, if we reduce the sum of desires over our lifetime and perform good deeds (i.e., selfless deeds that benefit others), our karmic balance will improve (i.e., we will have less karma). Such a person will be reborn into a better life the next time around. Conversely, a lifetime of indulging our desires and performing deeds to satisfy them will accumulate more karma. Such a person will be reborn into a lower, more base existence, perhaps as an animal. ~


Buddhist symbols


“Is there any way to get out of the cycle of Samsara? Yes, but only over the course of many lifetimes, lowering the karmic balance each time around--at least according to most forms of Hinduism. When all karma is finally gone, there is no more energy to drive the cycle of Samsara. In a sense, it runs out of fuel. A person in such a situation would enter a state called nirvana--a word that means "to extinguish"--and would not be reborn. What is nirvana like? Nirvana is so radically different from the modes of existence we occupy, that words cannot describe it nor can we even imagine it. But most Hindus saw Samsara as a living hell or prison. The chance to escape from it and enter into nirvana, therefore is a desirable goal. An important legacy that Buddhism inherited from Hinduism was a generally negative or pessimistic view of life in this world. ~

“Another Hindu teaching that became an important part of Buddhism was the doctrine of ahimsa, or not harming. To cause pain, suffering or death to another sentient being increases one's karmic burden or debt. Notice that karma is perfect justice. To the extent that a person produces it, that person must, quite literally, live with it--over multiple of lifetimes if necessary. Most forms of Hinduism and Buddhism prohibit consuming the flesh of animals. One should eat only those things that do not cause death, even to plants. Fruit, therefore, is a perfect food, since eating it does not harm the plant from which it came. (Jainism is a religion of India that takes not harming especially seriously. A strict Jain will sweep the path in front of him with a soft feather duster as he walks, to avoid stepping on small insects. He will also wear a gauze mask to prevent accidentally inhaling small insects. Incidentally, some extremely dedicated Jains take the quest for reducing karma so seriously that they stop wearing clothes and even starve themselves to death.) ~

“The final contribution of Hinduism to Buddhism we examine here concerns deities. Hinduism contains thousands of greater and lesser deities. As we will see, the Buddha's original teachings had nothing to do with deities or external supernatural forces of any kind. All religions change over time, however, and as the centuries passed, Buddhism incorporated hundreds of Hindu deities into its teachings, art, and iconography. A large pantheon of deities, therefore, is another important Hindu legacy in Buddhism. In the most scholastic, abstract teachings of Hindu theology, deities do not actually exist. The purpose of deities and their representations in Hinduism is to assist those at lower levels of comprehension by providing concrete images of various religious truths. As we shall see when studying the doctrine of Skillful Means, this understanding of deities also became the (Mahayana) Buddhist view.” ~

Similarities Between Hinduism and Buddhism

On the similarities between Hinduism and Buddhism, Jayaram V, , a leading author of Indian religions, wrote on Hinduwebsite.com: 1) Both Hinduism and Buddhism emphasize the illusory nature of the world and the role of karma in keeping men bound to this world and the cycle of births and deaths. 2) According to the Buddha, desire is the root cause of suffering and removal of desire results in the cessation of suffering. Some of the Hindu texts such as the Upanishads (Isa) and the Bhagavadgita consider doing actions prompted by desire and attachment would lead to bondage and suffering and that performing actions without desiring the fruit of action would result in liberation. 3) Both religions believe in the concept of karma, transmigration of souls and the cycle of births and deaths for each soul. [Source: Jayaram V, Hinduwebsite.com |*|]


some Hindu symbols


“4) Both emphasize compassion and non violence towards all living beings. 5) Both believe in the existence of several hells and heavens or higher and lower worlds. 6) Both believe in the existence of gods or deities on different planes. They also use similar names for several deities such as Indra, Brahma, Yama etc). 7) Both believe in certain spiritual practices like meditation, concentration, cultivation of certain bhavas or states of mind. 8) Both believe in detachment, renunciation of worldly life as a precondition to enter to spiritual life. Both consider desire as the chief cause of suffering. |*|

“9) The Advaita philosophy of Hinduism is closer to Buddhism in many respects. 10) Buddhism and Hinduism have their own versions of Tantra. 11) Both originated and evolved on the Indian soil. The founder of Buddhism was a Hindu who became the Buddha. Buddhism is the greatest gift of India to mankind. 12) Both Hinduism and Buddhism recognize Death as an inevitable and inescapable aspect of life. Both personify Death as a deity, as Kala and Yama in Hinduism and as Mara and Yama in Buddhism. Death as the devourer of all life figures prominently in the Bhagavadgita and Upanishads and so also in the Buddhist texts and iconography. |*|

“13) Both Hinduism and Buddhism believe that liberation, not rebirth or heavenly life, is the best solution to the problem of suffering and bondage. 14) Both Buddhism and Hinduism recognize a four tier cosmology of multiple worlds and spheres. Hinduism recognizes a subterranean world, the earth, the mid-region populated by celestial beings, the heaven of Indra and the world of Brahman. Buddhism recognizes an underworld, the earth, the mid-region of devas inhabiting the worlds of passions and desires, the higher region of devas inhabiting the worlds of forms and perception and the highest region of abstract worlds known as Brahma lokas inhabited great beings. 15) Both religions recognize the earth as the center of the universe, resting on the mountain Meru, surrounded by seven concentric rings of mountains and seven oceans, with the hells of asuras below and the worlds of devas above. Both recognize the land where the Buddha was born as Jambudvipa. 16) Both hold that the whole cosmos is represented in the inner world a human being.” |*|

Differences Between Hinduism and Buddhism

On the differences between Hinduism and Buddhism, Jayaram V wrote on Hinduwebsite.com: “1) Hinduism is not founded by any particular prophet. Buddhism was founded by the Buddha. 2) Hinduism believes in the efficacy and supremacy of the Vedas. The Buddhist do not believe in the Vedas or for that matter any Hindu scripture. 3) Buddhism does not believe in the existence of souls as well in the first cause, whom we generally call God. Hinduism believe in the existence of Atman , that is the individual soul and Brahman, the Supreme Creator. 4) Hinduism accepts the Buddha as an incarnation of Mahavishnu, one of the gods of Hindu trinity. The Buddhist do not accept any Hindu god either as an equal or superior to the Buddha. [Source: Jayaram V, Hinduwebsite.com |*|]

“5) The original Buddhism as taught by the Buddha is known as Theravada Buddhism or Hinayana Buddhism. Followers of this do not worship images of the Buddha nor believe in the Bodhisattvas. The Mahayana sect considers the Buddha as the Supreme Soul or the Highest Being, akin to the Brahman of Hinduism and worship him in the form of images and icons. 6) Hinduism recognizes four chief aims of human life, namely dharma (religious duty), artha (wealth or material possessions), kama (desires and passions) and moksha (salvation). Buddhism considers the world full of suffering and resolving it as the chief purpose of human life. Therefore, it recognizes only two aims, namely the practice of Dharma (Buddha's teachings) and liberation (Nirvana). |*|

“7) Hindus also believe in the four ashramas or stages in life. This is not followed in Buddhism. People can join the Order any time depending upon their spiritual preparedness. 8) Buddhists organize themselves into a monastic Order (Sangha) and the monks live in groups. Hinduism is basically a religion of the individual. 9) Buddhism believes in the concept of Bodhisattvas. Hinduism does not believe in it. |*|


Hindu God Shiva with his symbols


“10) Buddhism acknowledge the existence of some gods and goddesses of Hindu pantheon, but give them a rather subordinate status. 11) Refuge in the Buddha, the Sangha and Dhamma are the three cardinal requirements on the eightfold path. Hinduism offers many choices to its followers on the path of self-realization. 12) Although both religions believe in karma and rebirth, they differ in the manner in which they operate and impact the existence of individual beings.” |*|

Hostility Between Hinduism and Buddhism

Jayaram V wrote in Hinduwebsite.com: “Both Hinduism and Buddhism originated in the Indian subcontinent and share a very long, but rather peculiar and uncomfortable relationship, which in many ways is comparable to that of Judaism and Christianity. The Buddha was born in a Hindu family, just as Christ was born in a Jewish family. Some people still argue that Buddhism was an offshoot of Hinduism and the Buddha was a part of the Hindu pantheon, a view which is not acceptable to many Buddhists. It is however widely accepted that Buddhism gained popularity in India because it released the people from the oppression of tradition and orthodoxy. The teachings of the Buddha created hope and aspiration for those who had otherwise no hope of salvation and freedom of choice in a society that was dominated by caste system, predominance of ritual form of worship and the exclusive status of the privileged classes which the Vedic religion upheld as inviolable and indisputable. [Source:Jayaram V, Hinduwebsite.com |*|]

“Long ago, over 1500 years ago, Hindu tradition accepted the Buddha as an incarnation of Vishnu. However strong rivalry existed between both traditions in the subcontinent for a very long time. The followers of Siva and the Buddha could hardly stand each other in the earlier times. There were instances of Buddhist persecution by Hindu rulers, though a great majority followed a policy of religious toleration. Sasank, a ruler from Bengal and contemporary of Harshavardhana vandalized Buddhist monuments and burnt the Pipal tree under which the Buddha got enlightenment. |*|

“The Buddha “made a radical departure from the commonly held belief that the soul was eternal and indestructible. He declared that the self-identity was just a formation or an aggregation like the body itself and it disappeared when the desires were annihilated and karma was full burnt away. Unlike the other renunciant traditions that preferred to live in seclusion or in isolation, the Buddha went to the masses with his teachings and tried the breach the caste barriers that prevented a number of people from practicing faith or seeking liberation. Thus you may regard the Buddha as a social and religious reformer within the Vedic fold who challenged the basic tenets of Hinduism or as the founder of a new, organized religion. In these undertakings his purpose was not to propagate a new religion, but to help the people find relief from suffering and achieve liberation.” [Source:Jayaram V, Hinduwebsite.com |*|]

“The Vedic texts, especially the Puranas betray a pointed animosity towards Buddhism and the Buddha. The chasm between the two traditions grew in course of time as Buddhism tried to capitalize on the vulnerabilities of Vedic beliefs. The Buddha is considered an incarnation of Lord Vishnu for all the wrong reasons. The Puranas suggest that Lord Siva and Vishnu manifested as a Jina and Buddha respectively to mislead the demons and cause their destruction. Once the people lost their dharma and cease being devotees of gods, the gods such as Vishnu and Shiva would have no problem launching an offensive against them and destroying them. Thus the purpose of including the Buddha and some Jinas in the Hindu pantheon was entirely parochial. |*|

“The Buddha's not-self (anatta) theory is very similar to the belief held by the demons that the body is the soul, which is mentioned in the Chandogya Upanishad (8.7), as the doctrine learned wrongly by Vairocana while he was receiving instruction from Brahma. This gave the Vedic scholars valid justification to draw parallels between the two. Incidentally, Vairocana is considered one of the five Dhyana Buddhas in Vajrayana Buddhism. Therefore, although religious tolerance was the hallmark of ancient Indian society, the relationship between the Buddhist and the Hindus was less than cordial. When Buddhism was on decline, many caves and monasteries belonging to the Buddhist monks were either occupied or converted by Hindus into places of worship by installing Hindu deities. It is possible that a similar practice might have been followed by Buddhist monks when Buddhism was in ascendance.” |*|


Eight Auspicious Symbols of Tibetan Buddhism: 1) The Endless Knot; 2) The Treasure Vase; 3) The Lotus Flower; 4) Two Golden Fish; 5) The Parasol; 6) The Conch Shell; 7) The Dharma Wheel; 8) The Banner of Victory


Buddhist Emphasis on Suffering

Dr. Robert Eno of Indiana University wrote: “The Buddha's most basic insight was consistent with the personal crisis that had led him into the forest: life, which at times seems so full of good things, is actually a process of endless suffering. Even if we are not actually hungry or in pain, even if we live in sumptuous luxury, we actually endure ceaseless emotional hunger and pain. The reason why is that we are creatures of wants: our longings for things or people that will please us and satisfy our needs. The Buddha, through the vision of meditative trance, had become convinced that the world of things is actually illusory, that the beauties of the world are mere mirages that we project upon a meaningless universe of dust. We long for these illusory things, and knowingly or unknowingly, we live our lives enduring the fact that what we long for must always, in the end, elude our grasp. [Source: Robert Eno, Indiana University indiana.edu /+/ ]

“Thus, for Buddha, all life is suffering..and the story gets worse! The Buddha adopted from his Hindu religious environment the doctrine of samsara, the belief that all existence is an endless cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Therefore, when the Buddha tells us that we must endure nothing but suffering all our lives, he is not speaking of decades of unhappiness; suffering is forever. In the Buddhist picture, life is not much different from hell, except the flames are missing, so it's easy to mistake where you are. /+/

“The Buddha preached this picture of life in a formula known as the Four Noble Truths, the most basic doctrine of Buddhism. These truths tell us, 1) that life in samsara is suffering; 2) that this has a cause..our longing for illusory things; 3) that this suffering may be ended by following the path of the Buddha; 4) what that path is. The first two truths comprise the basic worldview of Buddhist thought. The final two truths point towards the practical core of Buddhism: its path towards salvation through self-cultivation in the manner of the Buddha's own struggle to enlightenment.” /+/

Why are Suffering, Self-Denial and Nothingness Such Big Deals in Buddhism?

Dr. Robert Eno of Indiana University wrote: “Most of us who first hear the Four Noble Truths have an initially negative response. Not only do the first two paint an unrelievedly depressing picture of life, but they do not seem to most of us true. After all, life has many obvious pleasures: food, love, music, cable. Why focus solely on the bad side? Furthermore, it is not at all clear that the Buddha was strictly correct about the illusory nature of things. For example, many people have strong convictions about the real existence of tables and chairs. It is not certain how the historical Buddha responded to audiences who may have raised these objections. [Source: Robert Eno, Indiana University indiana.edu /+/ ]


Four sights of Gautama Siddhartha after left his palace with his horse Kanthaka and charioteer Channa: 1) old age; 2) death; 3) sickness; 4) and asceticism


“However, one of the principal activities of those who did choose to heed the Buddha's message and follow his teachings was the elaboration of a rich and sophisticated set of philosophical arguments that were designed to demonstrate the coherence of the Buddha's claims about the nature of the world. These arguments form the basis of Buddhist philosophy, which includes distinctive doctrines of metaphysics (theory of the basic structures of reality), psychology, ethics, and logic. Although some of Buddha's early audiences surely doubted his words, others were inclined to adopt his portrait of life as suffering. The poor and the sick would more easily see a message such as Buddha's as one of hope rather than despair, and Hindu yogins who had withdrawn from society would have seen in the Buddha's picture of an illusory world confirmation of their own decisions. For such people, the last two Noble Truths represented a path to salvation, albeit a very difficult path, involving years of self-denial and rigorous meditational training. /+/

“But the Buddha's own picture of salvation seems to have been so bare that few others would have found it enticing. For the Buddha, the ultimate goal of any conscious being was simply release from samsara and the cessation of suffering..and that was it! No afterlife, no paradise, no talk with Elvis. Nothing. In fact, “nothing” was the only description offered of the state of permanent release from samsara: the state of nirvana. Nirvana was simply no longer being. For those who do not share the Buddhist belief in reincarnation, nirvana looks very much like death. /+/

“While all of us have bad days, few would respond by undertaking years of rigorous self-denial leading to personal extinction. Therefore, those who followed the Buddha realized early on that to enlarge the audience of their faith it would be necessary to make the path easier for most to travel and the end goal more attractive. These Buddhist disciples gradually built up a very large corpus of sacred texts and devotional practices that added to Buddhism inspirational religious features. self-cultivation came to involve more than meditation.-one could approach nirvana now through doing good works, chanting holy scripture, praying to scores of Buddhist saints, and contributing tax-free gifts to Buddhist monasteries. And nirvana too was gradually redesigned into a sort of super-physical space in which the souls of perfected people enjoyed the company of the gods and saints for eternity, in surroundings as comfortable and gemlike as the palace from which Siddhartha Gautama had once fled....These ideas were not without problems. Buddhist philosophy is very firm in rejecting the existence of the soul or any enduring principle of personal identity in life or in nirvana. But the philosophical and religious aspects of Buddhism, like two spouses, learned to live together without worrying overmuch about perfect consistency. /+/

“Through the development of a philosophical core that could defend the very counter-intuitive claims that the Buddha made about reality, and the development of a religious tradition that greatly enhanced the attractiveness of Buddhism's salvational message, Buddhism supplied itself with tools that enabled it to emerge from India and sweep over all of East Asia, becoming a dominant religious tradition there for over a thousand years.” /+/



Buddhist Sects

According to the Asia Society Museum: “Three main types of Buddhism have developed over its long history, each with its own characteristics and spiritual ideals." Theravada Buddhism, "often known by the pejorative term Hinayana ("Lesser Vehicle"), is the earliest of the three and emphasizes the attainment of salvation for oneself alone and the necessity of monastic life in order to attain spiritual release. The Mahayana ("Greater Vehicle"), whose members coined the word "Hinayana" and believed its adherents pursued a path that could not be followed by the majority of ordinary people, teaches the salvation of all. Practitioners of the Vajrayana ("Diamond Vehicle"), or Esoteric Buddhism, believe that one can achieve enlightenment in a single lifetime, as opposed to the other two types, which postulate that it takes many eons to accrue the necessary good karma. These three types were not mutually exclusive, but their emphasis on different practices affected Buddhist art. For example, whereas foundational Buddhism teaches that only a few devotees are able to reach enlightenment and that they do so through their own efforts, Mahayana and its later offshoot, Vajrayana, teach that buddhahood is attainable by everyone with help from beings known as bodhisattvas. As a result, images of bodhisattvas proliferated in Mahayana and Vajrayana art and are often depicted flanking buddhas. [Source: Asia Society Museum asiasocietymuseum.org ]

Steven M. Kossak and Edith W. Watts of the Metropolitan Museum of Art wrote: "The earliest form of Buddhism is called the Theravada (Way of the Elders). It adheres strictly to the Buddha’s teaching and to his austere life of meditation and detachment. Theravada Buddhists believed that very few would reach nirvana. Initially, in this system, the Buddha was represented in art only by symbols, but in the first century A.D., under the Kushan rulers, the Buddha began to be depicted in human form. [Source: Steven M. Kossak and Edith W. Watts, The Art of South, and Southeast Asia, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York]

"At about this time, a new form of Buddhism emerged called the Mahayana (the Great Way), which held that the Buddha was more than a great spiritual teacher but also a savior god. It was believed that he had appeared in perfect human form to relieve suffering with the message that, by performing good deeds and maintaining sincere faith, everyone could reach nirvana through means less strict and arduous than in Theravada (which Mahayana Buddhists called the Hinayana, or Lesser Way).

"A whole pantheon of Mahayana Buddhist deities began to appear to aide the devotee—Buddhas of the past, bodhisattvas such as Maitreya (Buddha of the Future), and Vajrapani (“thunderbolt bearer”), who had evolved from the chief Vedic god Indra. Most appealing and approachable of all is the gentle Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of infinite compassion, who can be called upon to help people in all kinds of trouble. A bodhisattva is a being who has reached the moment of spiritual transcendence but foregoes nirvana in order to guide all beings in their quest to attain enlightenment. The Mahayana faith became the more popular form of Buddhism and was carried by merchants and monks across Central Asia along the trade routes to China, and from there to Korea and Japan.

"Another form of Buddhism, called Esoteric and also known as Tantric or Vajrayana Buddhism, grew out of Mahayana Buddhism beginning in the late sixth or early seventh century. Esoteric Buddhists accepted the tenets of the Mahayana but also used forms of meditation subtly directed by master teachers (gurus) involving magical words, symbols, and practices to speed the devotee toward enlightenment. They believed that those who practiced compassion and meditation with unwavering effort and acquired the wis- dom to become detached from human passions could achieve in one lifetime a state of perfect bliss or “clear light,” their term for ultimate realization and release. Their practices paralleled concurrent developments in Hinduism.


geographical location of the main Buddhist divisions


"Many new deities appeared in the Esoteric Buddhist pantheon who, in their poses, gestures, and expressions, visualize philosophical ideas. For instance, male and female deities shown in embrace express the union of wisdom and compassion. Wrathful deities symbolize protection, and their violent and horrific appearance helps devotees to overcome the passions that hinder salvation. Also central to Esoteric thinking were the five celestial Buddhas (the four directions and the zenith), who represent both the energy of the universe and the potential for wisdom within the psychological make- up of the individual."

See Separate Article BUDDHIST SECTS: THERAVADA, MAHAYANA AND TIBETAN BUDDHISM factsanddetails.com

The Buddha Foretells the Gradual Decline of Religion

The 'Anagatavamsa' reads: “Praise to that Lord, Arahant, perfect Buddha. Thus have I heard: At one time the Lord was staying near Kapilvatthu in the Banyan monastery on the bank of the river Rohani Then the venerable Sariputta questioned the Lord about the future Conqueror: 'The Hero that shall follow you, The Buddha-of what sort will he be? I want to hear of him in full. Let the Visioned One describe him.' When he had heard the Elder's speech The Lord spoke thus: 'I will tell you, Sariputta, Listen to my speech. [Source: Translation by Edward Conze, in Conze et al., “Buddhist Texts through the Ages” (Oxford: Bruno Cassirer (Publishers) Ltd., 1954), Eliade Page website]

Three leaders have there been: Kakusandha, Konagamana And the leader Kassapa too. 'I am now the perfect Buddha, And there will be Metteyya [i.e., Maitreya] too Before this same auspicious aeon Runs to the end of its years. 'The perfect Buddha, Metteyya By name, supreme of men.' (Then follows a history of the previous existence of Metteyya . . . and then the description of the gradual decline of the religion:)

'How will it occur? After my decease there will first be five disappearances. What five? The disappearance of attainment (in the Dispensation), the disappearance of proper conduct, the disappearance of learning, the disappearance of the outward form, the disappearance of the relics. There will be these five disappearances. 'Here attainment means that for a thousand years only after the lord's complete Nirvana will monks be able to practice analytical insights. As time goes on and on these disciples of mine are nonreturners and once-returners and stream-winners. There will be no disappearance of attainment for these. But with the extinction of the last stream-winner's life, attainment will have disappeared. 'This, Sariputta, is the disappearance of attainment.

'The disappearance of proper conduct means that, being unable to Practice jhana, insight, the Ways and the fruits, they will guard no lore the four entire purities of moral habit. As time goes on and on they will only guard the four offences entailing defeat. While there are even a hundred or a thousand monks who guard and bear in mind the four offences entailing defeat, there will be no disappearance of proper conduct. With the breaking of moral habit by the last monk- or on the extinction of his life, proper conduct will have disappeared. 'This, Sariputta, is the disappearance of proper conduct.

'The disappearance -of learning means that as long as there stand firm the texts with the commentaries pertaining to the word of the Buddha in the three Pitakas, for so long there will be no disappearance of learning. As time goes on and on there will be base-born kings, not Dhamma-men; (dharma) their ministers and so on will not be Dhamma-men, and consequently the inhabitants of the kingdom and so on will not be Dhamma-men. Because they are not Dhamma-men it will not rain properly. Therefore the crops will not flourish well, and in consequence the donors of requisites to the community of monks will not be able to give them the requisites. Not receiving the requisites the monks will not receive pupils. As time goes on and on learning will decay. In this decay the Great Patthana itself will decay first. In this decay also (there will be) Yamaka, Kathavatthu, Puggalapannati, Dhatukatha, Vibhanga and Dhammasangani. When the Abhidhamma Pitaka decays the Suttanta Pitaka will decay. When the Suttantas decay the Anguttara will decay first. When it decays the Samyutta Nikaya, the Majjhima Nikaya, the Digha Nikaya and the Khuddaka-Nikaya will decay. They will simply remember the jataka together with the Vinaya Pitaka. But only the conscientious (monks) will remember the Vinaya Pitaka. As time goes on and on, being unable to remember even the jataka, the Vessantara-jataka will decay first. When that decays the Apannaka-jataka will decay. When the jatakas decay they will remember only the Vinaya-Pitaka. As time goes on and on the Vinaya-Pitaka will decay. While a four-line stanza still continues to exist among men, there will not be a disappearance of learning. When a king who has faith has had a purse containing a thousand (coins) placed in a golden' casket on an elephant's back, and has had the drum (of proclamation) sounded in the city up to the second or third time, to the effect that: "Whoever knows a stanza uttered by the Buddhas, let him take these thousand coins together with the royal elephant"-but yet finding no one knowing a four-line stanza, the purse containing the thousand (coins) must be taken back into the palace again-then will be the disappearance of learning. 'This, Sariputta, is the disappearance of learning.


Tibetan Wheel of Life


'As time goes on and on each of the last monks, carrying his robe, bowl, and tooth-pick like Jain recluses, having taken a bottle-gourd and turned it into a bowl for almsfood, will wander about with it in his forearms or hands or hanging from a piece of string. As time goes on and on, thinking: 'What's the good of this yellow robe?" and cutting off a small piece of one and sticking it on his nose or ear or ill his hair, he will wander about supporting wife and children by agriculture, trade and the like. Then he will give a gift to the Southern community for those (of bad moral habit). I say that he will then acquire an incalculable fruit of the gift. As time goes on and on, thinking: "What's the good of this to us?", having thrown away the piece Of yellow robe, he will harry beasts and birds in the forest. At this time the outward form will have disappeared. 'This, Sariputta, is called the disappearance of the outward form.

'Then when the Dispensation of the Perfect Buddha is 5,000 years old, the relics, not receiving reverence and honour, will go to places where they can receive them. As time goes on and on there will not be reverence and honour for them in every place. At the time when the Dispensation is falling into (oblivion), all the relics, coming from every place: from the abode of serpents and the deva-world and the Brahma-world, having gathered together in the space round the great Bo-tree, having made a Buddha-image, and having performed a "miracle" like the Twin-miracle, will teach Dhamma. No human being will be found at that place. All the devas of the ten-thousand world system, gathered together, will hear Dhamma and many thousands of them will attain to Dhamma. And these will cry aloud, saying: "Behold, devatas, a week from today our One of the Ten Powers will attain complete Nirvana." They will weep, saying: "Henceforth there will be darkness for us." Then the relics, producing the condition of heat, will burn up that image leaving no remainder. 'This, Sariputta, is called the disappearance of the relics.'

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons except Four Noble Truths, Rissho Kosei-kai, and Hindu symbols, culturalsymbolism.wordpress.com; the four sights, gauthamabuddha.blogspot.com

Text Sources: East Asia History Sourcebook sourcebooks.fordham.edu , “Topics in Japanese Cultural History” by Gregory Smits, Penn State University figal-sensei.org, Asia for Educators, Columbia University afe.easia.columbia, Asia Society Museum asiasocietymuseum.org , “The Essence of Buddhism” Edited by E. Haldeman-Julius, 1922, Project Gutenberg, Virtual Library Sri Lanka lankalibrary.com “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “Encyclopedia of the World's Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); “Encyclopedia of the World Cultures: Volume 5 East and Southeast Asia” edited by Paul Hockings (G.K. Hall & Company, New York, 1993); “ National Geographic, the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated September 2018


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