How Many Buddhas Are There?
Asia-wide Buddhists are getting ready to commemorate the birth of Prince Siddhartha Gautama, who subsequently took the name Gautama Buddha and served as Buddhism's founder.
In what is now Nepal, the Buddha is thought to have been born some 2,500 years ago.
Asian nations, where the majority of Buddhists reside, observe the occasion on various dates, such as April 8 in Japan, May 12 in South Korea, and May 18 in India and Nepal.
The holiday, which is also known as Buddha Purnima, Vesak, Buddha Jayanti, and Ikh Duichen, is frequently observed with national holidays, celebrations, and activities at Buddhist temples.
The Origins Of Buddhism
Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha), who founded Buddhism in the latter half of the sixth century B.C.E., is revered throughout the majority of Asian nations.
Buddhism has taken on many various forms, but in each instance an effort has been made to use the Buddha's life lessons, his teachings, and the spirit or core of those teachings (known as dhamma or dharma) as models for living a religious life.
We don't know a complete biography of the Buddha, though, until Ashvaghosa wrote the Buddha Charita (life of the Buddha) in the first or second century C.E.
The Buddha was born (about 563 BCE) in Lumbini, a location on the foothills of the Himalayas, and he started his teaching career in and around Benares (at Sarnath). His overall atmosphere was one of social, intellectual, and spiritual upheaval.
In this time period, the Upanishads were composed, and the Hindu ideal of holy people giving up family and social life in search of Truth first gained popularity.
Both can be viewed as steps away from the Vedic fire sacrifice's importance.
A king and a queen had a warrior son named Siddhartha Gautama. According to mythology, a soothsayer foretold his potential for renunciation when he was born (withdrawing from the temporal life). His father gave him numerous comforts and pleasures to keep him from doing this.
But when he was younger, he took a series of four chariot rides during which he first witnessed the more extreme manifestations of human misery, including old age, disease, death (a corpse), and an ascetic renouncer.
He came to understand that all earthly joys were fleeting and could only serve to conceal human pain as a result of the contrast between his life and this sorrow.
He tried great renunciation in the jungle to the point of famine after leaving his wife and young son (Rahula) in their fetters. He also took on multiple tutors.
He eventually ate his meal and sat down to meditate behind a tree after realizing that this was only causing him additional agony.
He had gained Nirvana (Enlightenment) by dawn (or others say six months later! ), which offered both the real solutions to the sources of suffering and enduring freedom from them.
Now, out of compassion for their suffering, the Buddha (the Enlightened or Awakened One) started imparting these teachings to others.
The Four Noble Truths and the Eight-Fold Path were among his most significant teachings.
Life is painful, and that is His First Noble Truth (dukkha).
The pleasures and sorrows of the body and mind are a part of everyday life, he added, but pleasures don't signify lifelong contentment.
Since we suffer as a result of wanting them, wanting them to continue, and wanting pain to end so that pleasure might arrive, they are inextricably linked to suffering.
The second Noble Truth is that cravings—for sensual gratification and for things to be as they are not—are the root of suffering. Life as it is is not acceptable to us.
The Middle Way and the Eightfold Path are the ways to achieve the Third Noble Truth's assertion that suffering has an end.
Nirvana, an ineffable state of all-knowing clear awareness where there is only serenity and joy, can be attained by adhering to this united path.
Right Views (the Four Noble Truths), Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood/Occupation, Right Endeavor, Right Mindfulness (total concentration in activity), and Right Concentration are all parts of the Eightfold Path, which is frequently depicted as an eight-spoked wheel (the Wheel of Dhamma) (meditation).
The Middle Way concept, which underlies the Buddha's existence, permeates the Eight-Fold Path. Rejecting all extremes in thinking, emotion, behavior, and lifestyle is what the Middle Way stands for.
The Buddha recommended a moderate or balanced way of life, including wandering and the cultivation of mental and emotional composure through meditation and morality, as opposed to either severe body mortification or a life of indulgence in worldly pleasures.
Following the Buddha's passing, his travelling celibacy disciples eventually made their way into monasteries that were supported by the married laityas' contributions of merit.
The monks in turn transmitted some of the Buddha's teachings to the laypeople.
They also participated in rituals like visiting the Buddha's birthplace, worshiping the bodhi tree (the tree beneath which he attained enlightenment), Buddha pictures in temples, and the remains of his body kept in several stupas or burial mounds.
Buddhism was helped spread by a well-known king named Ashoka and his son throughout South India and into Sri Lanka (Ceylon) (3rd century B.C.E.).
Among the Buddha's followers, a large number of monastic schools emerged. This is partially due to the ambiguity of numerous of his practical teachings; for example, he hesitated to state categorically whether or not people have a soul (atta/atman).
He declined to name a replacement to succeed him as head of the Sangha, which was another factor in the emergence of many schools (monastic order).
He advised the monks to be lights unto themselves and follow the Dhamma.
A significant division between the Mahayana and Hinayana branches within the Buddhist fold took place about the first century C.E.
Only the Ravada school, which was formed in the fourth century B.C.E. and is still practiced today in Sri Lanka and all of Southeast Asia, is left of the Hinayana (the Lesser Vehicle) branch of schools.
This school places emphasis on Gautama Buddha's historical significance as well as the significance of the monk's way of life and practices (meditation).
When the Buddha spoke of the transience of the human body/form, perception, sensations/feelings, cognition, and volition, Theravada monks believe he was presenting a theory of anatta (no-soul).
However, they hold the view that until they achieve Nirvana, humans will continue to be reformed, reborn, and accrue karma. The Tripitaka is a treasured collection of early Buddhist teachings and rules established by the ravada school.
Around the first century C.E., the Mahayana (Greater Vehicle) branch of schools emerged; Mahayanists can be found today, primarily in Tibet, China, Japan, and Korea.
The three most well-known schools are Tantra, Pure Land, and Chanor Zen. The majority of Mahayana schools make use of books known as sutras, emphasizing that non-Buddhists can also be good Buddhists and that there are effective alternatives to meditation that lead to Nirvana, such as the chanting and good deeds practiced in Pure Land.
They hold that what is variously referred to as Buddha Nature, Buddha Mind, or Emptiness is the source of the Buddha and all other living things.
This is not nothing; rather, it is the absolutely ineffable Source of all Existence, which also possesses the capacity for enlightenment.
They claim that the historical Buddha's appearance was just one way in which Buddha Nature appeared. Thus, the Mahayana speaks of numerous Buddhas from the past and the future, some of whom are godlike and rule over Buddha-worlds or heavenly paradises.
Bodhisattvas, or people who have attained enlightenment but have turned around and made a commitment to utilize their enlightenment-acquired compassion, wisdom, and power to assist relieve the suffering of others, are particularly significant.
According to Mahayana doctrine, there is ultimately no separation between the self and others, nor between samsara (rebirth and transmigration) and Nirvana! Because of this, the bodhi is able to give others his own merit and take on their suffering in samsara.
Although Buddhism almost completely vanished from India (around the 12th century C.E. ), perhaps as a result of the all-encompassing nature of Hinduism, Muslim invasions, or an excessive emphasis on the monk's way of life, it has more than demonstrated its viability and usefulness as a religion in the Asian nations where it has been introduced.
Many diverse types of people have been able to satisfy their spiritual requirements through this magnificent religion thanks to the numerous forms and practices that have evolved within the Buddhist tradition.
Buddha Sculpture FAQs
Is There Only One Buddha?
His adherents, known as Buddhists, spread the belief system that is now known as Buddhism.
Buddhism in certain forms maintains that there is only one buddha for each historical era, whereas Buddhism in others maintains that everyone will someday become a buddha since everyone has the buddha nature (tathagatagarbha).
Who Is The 1st Buddha?
The founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, also referred to as "the Buddha," lived in the fifth century B.C. As a prince, Gautama was born into a prosperous family in modern-day Nepal. Despite leading a comfortable life, Gautama was struck by human misery.
Who Is The Female Buddha?
In Mahayana Buddhism, she takes the form of a female bodhisattva, and in Vajrayana Buddhism, a female Buddha. She represents the virtues of success in work and achievements and is referred to as the "mother of emancipation."
Is There A Buddha Today?
According to Tibetan Buddhist belief, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th and current Dalai Lama, is a reincarnation of a former lama who chose to be reborn again in order to carry on his job. Since leaving Tibet following the abortive rebellion in 1959, he has made his home in India.
What Are The 3 Main Beliefs Of Buddhism?
The Three Universal Truths, The Four Noble Truths, and The Noble Eightfold Path are the fundamental teachings of Buddha that form the basis of Buddhism.
His given name was Siddhartha (Sanskrit: he who achieves his objective), also known as Siddhattha, and his clan name was Gautama (Sanskrit: he who achieves his aim) or Gotama (Pali). The historical figure known as the Buddha's life is mostly known through tradition (in Pali). He is usually referred to as Shakyamuni, the Shakya clan's sage.
He is frequently referred to as Bhagavat (often translated as Lord) in Buddhist writings, and he calls himself the Tathagata, which can signify either one who has come or one who has gone.
The majority of information regarding his life comes from Buddhist texts, the earliest of which were not recorded until several centuries after his passing, just before the Common Era.
Though his historical existence is acknowledged by scholars, the events of his life described in these books cannot be taken as fact.
Although it is believed that he lived for 80 years, the exact date of his passing is very uncertain. His passing into nirvana, or death, as described in traditional traditions, is dated between 2420 BCE and 290 BCE.
This range was significantly constrained by scholarship in the 20th century, with opinions largely split between those who date his death to around 480 BCE and those who date it to as much as a century later.
In what is now southern Nepal, the Buddha was born in Lumbini (Rummin-dei), close to Kapilavastu (Kapilvastu), on the northern boundary of the Ganges River valley, a region outside of the North Indian civilization.
The grand palaces described in the traditional accounts of the life of the Buddha are not apparent among the archaeological remains, leading scholars to hypothesize that during the late Vedic period the peoples of the region were organized into tribal republics, governed by a council of elders or an elected leader.
The Buddha's family is claimed to have been from the warrior (Kshatriya) caste, though it is unknown how far these marginalized tribes in the Ganges basin were integrated into the caste system.
There were around 16 city-states in the central Ganges basin that were ruled by monarchs and frequently at war with one another.
With their courts and commerce, these central Indian cities rose to prominence, bringing about social, political, and economic developments that are frequently cited as major contributors to the spread of Buddhism and other religious movements in the sixth and fifth century BCE.
Buddhist texts list numerous itinerant teachers who drew crowds of followers.
Some of these articulated philosophical viewpoints and taught meditation, yoga, and asceticism, frequently focused on the nature of the individual and the issue of whether human deeds (karma) had lasting effects.
The Buddha would eventually become one of these teachers, but in the eyes of Buddhists, he was very distinct from the others.
Therefore, it is impossible to comprehend his place within the tradition by focusing solely on the occurrences of his life and times (even to the extent that they are available).
He must be viewed instead in the light of Buddhist conceptions of history and time.
Buddhism holds that the cosmos is the result of karma, the rule of cause and effect, which states that good deeds bring joy in the future and bad deeds bring suffering. The universe's creatures are born again without beginning in six realms as demigods, angels, humans, animals, ghosts, and inhabitants of hell.
These species' actions not only shape their own unique experiences, but also the worlds in which they live.
Samsara, which literally translates to "wandering," is the name given to the cycle of reincarnation. Buddhist practice's ultimate aim is to liberate oneself from this suffering.
Until a person perfects himself over the period of millions of lives, he or she will not be able to find the way out of samsara and will not be able to lovingly reveal that way to others.
A bodhisattva is a person who has embarked on the arduous quest to learn the way to liberation from suffering and then to pass it on to others.
A buddha is a person who has found that path, traveled it all the way to the finish, and then taught it to others. Buddhas achieve nirvana, a state free from suffering, rather than being reborn when they pass away (literally passing away).
The appearance of a buddha in the world is seen as a significant event in the history of the universe because buddhas appear so infrequently throughout time and because they are the only ones who can reveal the road to liberation (moksha) from pain (dukkha).
A specific Buddha's life biography begins before his conception and continues after his passing. It includes the countless bodhisattva lives lived before attaining buddhahood and the Buddha's continued influence after entering nirvana in the form of both his teachings and his relics. The historical Buddha is not thought to be the first or last Buddha to have existed.
He is the seventh Buddha in some traditions, the twenty-fifth in another, and the fourth in still another. After Shakyamuni's teachings and artifacts have vanished from the world, Maitreya, the following Buddha, will manifest.
From this angle, the historical narratives of the Buddha's life's events must be taken into account.
sources for the Buddha's life
The life of the Buddha has been described in a variety of ways. The sutras (Pali: suttas), which are compilations of discourses generally regarded as belonging to the Buddha, contain some of the earliest.
The Buddha describes specific incidents from the time he gave up his existence as a prince until he attained enlightenment six years later in the sutras.
His enlightenment is described in several sutras as well. The Mahaparinibbana-sutta (Discourse on the Final Nirvana), a text written in the Pali language, depicts the Buddha's final days, his ascension into nirvana, his funeral, and the dispersal of his relics.
Although certain sutras give a thorough description of the life of a prehistoric buddha named Vipashyin, biographical accounts in the early sutras are scant on information regarding the Buddha's conception and early years.
When biographical sections do appear, they frequently end with Shariputra, one of the Buddha's earliest disciples, being converted. The vinaya, another category of early Buddhist literature (ostensibly concerned with the rules of monastic discipline), contains accounts of numerous incidents from the Buddha's life but rarely in the form of a continuous narrative.
While the Buddha's person is emphasized in the sutras (his past lives, his asceticism, his enlightenment, and his entry into nirvana), his teaching career and the conversion of his early pupils are frequently highlighted in vinaya literature.
Thus, the sutras and vinaya texts reflect concerns about the Buddha's life as well as his teachings, concerns that are frequently interrelated; early biographical accounts appear in doctrinal discourses, and points of doctrine and places of pilgrimage are justified through their connection to the life of the Buddha.
Independent biographies of the Buddha were written down about the time of the Common Era.
They do not detail his life from conception to death, which is frequently followed by a triumphant trip back to his hometown of Kapilavastu (Pali: Kapilavasthu), which is claimed to have occurred either a year or six years following his enlightenment.
The incomplete biographies include tales that would go on to become famous, including the young prince's contemplation beneath a rose-apple tree and his four historic chariot trips outside of the capital.
These stories frequently mention things that happened in the Buddha's prior lifetimes. Jatakas, or compilations of tales about the Buddha's previous lives, are in fact one of the earliest genres of Buddhist literature.
The Buddha is reminded of an occurrence from a previous incarnation by this one. He uses that anecdote to establish a moral principle before coming back to the present and identifying several audience members as the current manifestations of the characters in his past-life story, which features himself as the main character.
One Pali collection has 547 of them, and they continue to be one of the most widely read types of Buddhist literature.
They are the source of about 32 stone carvings at the Bharhut stupa from the second century BCE in the northeastern Madhya Pradesh state; 15 of these carvings show the Buddha's last life. In fact, Indian stone carvings are a valuable resource for learning which moments in the Buddha's life the community valued the most.
The Jataka stories are well-known outside of India; in Southeast Asia, the tale of Prince Vessantara, the Buddha's penultimate reincarnation, is equally well-known as the tale of his final life. Vessantara demonstrated his commitment to the virtue of charity by giving away his sacred elephant, his children, and finally his wife.
In the second century CE, biographies of the Buddha that detail his life from conception to passing first appeared. The Sanskrit epic Buddhacharita (Acts of the Buddha) by Ashvaghosa is among the most well-known.
Texts like the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya, which likely dates to the fourth or fifth century CE, make an effort to compile the various Buddha accounts into a single chronological account. These biographies frequently serve to show how Shakyamuni's life's events fit into a pattern that all previous Buddhas have followed, rather than to describe his extraordinary actions.
Some claim that all previous Buddhas attained enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, exercised austerity, quit the life of a householder after seeing the four sights, taught at the deer park at Sarnath, and so forth.
In India and throughout the Buddhist world, the life of the Buddha was written and rewritten with various additions and deletions as needed.
It was customary to add a legend about the Buddha's appearance to locations that later became popular pilgrimage sites but weren't included in earlier records.
Buddhism spread to places like Sri Lanka, Kashmir, and Burma (now Myanmar) long after he had away, adding tales of his enchanted visits to records of his life.
No one tradition of Buddhism would accept a single account of the Buddha's life. Scholars have been studying the life of the Buddha for more than a century, with the earliest studies aiming to separate and pinpoint historical components among the numerous stories.
Most researchers gave up on this line of research as fruitless because it took centuries between the actual life and the production of what might be called a full biography.
Instead, they started looking into the institutional, social, political, and theological factors that contributed to the regional variations in the Buddha's stories.
Another interesting subject is how the Buddha's life has been used in various ways. In other words, instead of trying to find accurate details about the Buddha's life, researchers are now tracing the stages and driving forces behind the creation of his biography.
It is crucial to emphasize that the inspiration for the Buddha to live a single life, spanning all of his previous incarnations and concluding with his entry into nirvana, came very late in the development of Buddhism.
Instead, a variety of earlier, unrelated parts were combined to create the Buddha's biographical tradition.
And over the years and across the globe, biographies of the Buddha have continued to be written. For instance, in the modern era, biographies of the Buddha have been published with the goal of demythologizing him and highlighting the way in which he anticipated contemporary ethical frameworks, social movements, and scientific advancements.
What follows is a well-known yet synthesised history of the Buddha's life, combining some of the more well-known incidents from numerous biographies of him, which frequently describe and interpret these incidents differently.
This List Of Buddhas Is Not By Any Means Complete; There Are Many Buddhas, Named And Unnamed, In The Scriptures.
Mahayana Buddhism honors Akshobhya, a transcendent or celestial Buddha.
Abhirati, he is the ruler of the Eastern Paradise. Abhirati is a Buddha-field or Pure Land, a region of rebirth where attaining enlightenment is simple. Some Buddhists consider the Pure Lands to be places from the past, although they may also be thought of as mental states.
Tradition says that before attaining enlightenment, Akshobhya was a monk who made a vow never to feel resentment or hate toward another being.
He was steadfast in following this promise, and after much effort, he attained Buddhahood.
In representations, Akshobhya is typically depicted as blue or gold. His hands are frequently in the earth to observe mudra, with the right Buddha touching the ground with his fingers and the left hand resting erect in his lap.
Amitabha, also known as the Buddha of Boundless Light, is another transcendent Buddha of the Mahayana school of Buddhism. In Vajrayana Buddhism as well as Pure Land Buddhism, he is a revered figure.
One is said to be able to reach a buddha-field, or Pure Land, where anyone can attain enlightenment and Nirvana, by honoring Amitabha.
Tradition has it that long ago, Amitabha was a great king who abdicated his throne and changed his name to Dharmakara.
Amitabha became the ruler of Sukhavati, the Western Paradise, after attaining enlightenment. Some people think of Sukhavati as a real location, but it can also refer to a state of mind.
Amitabha in his sambhogakaya form is known as Amitayus. According to the Mahanaya Buddhist concept known as Trikaya, a Buddha can incarnate in one of three ways: as an ethereal, non-physical entity known as the Dharmakaya body; as a literal, living, dying human being known as the Nirmanakaya body; or as the Samghogakayha body.
The Sambhogakaya form is a type of intermediate manifestation that purportedly has a visible aspect but is made of unadulterated joy.
Buddha Amoghasiddhi. Flickr.com, MarenYumi, Creative Commons
The celestial Buddha Amoghasiddhi is known as the one who always succeeds in his endeavors.
He belongs to the group of five wisdom Buddhas known as Vajrayana in the Mahayana school of Buddhism.
He is linked to the eradication of the venom of jealousy as well as fearlessness on the spiritual path.
His hands are seen making the mudra of courage, with the right hand raised and the fingers pointing upward. He is typically shown as green.
In the Pali Tipitika, an ancient Buddha named Kakusandha is mentioned as existing prior to the historical Buddha. He is also regarded as the first of the present kalpa, or world age's, five universal Buddhas.
The second universal Buddha of the current kalpa, or world age, is supposed to be the ancient Buddha Konagamana.
Another ancient Buddha, Kassapa or Kasyapa, was the third of the five universal Buddhas of the present kalpa, or world period. Shakyamuni, also known as Gautama Buddha, who is regarded as the fourth Buddha of the present kalpa, came after him.
The historical Buddha and creator of Buddhism as we know it is Siddhartha Gautama.
He also goes by the name Shakyamuni.
As the founder of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha is depicted in iconography in a variety of forms, but the most prevalent representation is that of a flesh-toned person making the mudra of courage while holding up his right hand with its fingers pointing upward.
The fourth of five Buddhas who will appear in the current era is thought to be the historical Buddha whom we are all familiar with.
Both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism acknowledge Maitreya as someone who will become a Buddha in the future.
He is regarded as the fifth and final Buddha of the current epoch (kalpa).
The Pali Tipitika's Cakkavatti Sutta is where Maitreya is first introduced (Digha Nikaya 26). The sutta predicts a future period of total dharma loss, during which Maitreya would manifest and impart the dharma's previous teachings. He will reside in the Deva Realm as a bodhisattva up until then.
Pu-Tai (Budai) Or Hotei
The recognizable laughter Buddha first appeared in Chinese mythology in the tenth century. He is regarded as Maitreya's emanation.
Ratnasambhava Buddha. MarenYumi / Flickr.com, Creative Commons License
Ratnasambhava, also known as the Jewel-Born One, is a transcendent Buddha. He is one of the five Vajrayana meditation Buddhas, and meditations on equanimity and equality are centered on him.
He is also linked to campaigns to extinguish pride and greed.
A significant icon of Mahayana Buddhism is Vairocana Buddha. He represents the dharmakaya and the illumination of wisdom. He is the primordial or global Buddha. He belongs to the group of five wisdom Buddhas.
Vairocana is portrayed as the foundation of existence and the matrix from which all phenomena arise in the Avatamsaka (Flower Garland) Sutra.
In the Mahavairocana Sutra, Vairocana is shown as the supreme Buddha, the source of all other Buddhas. He is the source of illumination because he lives without causes or conditions.
There are numerous Buddhas, and Buddhism has been practiced for many years. We have just included a few of the most well-known Buddhas from the canon of Buddhist literature in this list.
Continue reading if you've ever been curious about these people or what they did to unite with Buddha. On our site, you'll find no shortage of fascinating details about everything related to Buddhism.