Buddhism is a globally recognized religion having its roots of origination in ancient India around the 5th century. All the people who follow Buddhism are popularly known as Buddhists. Buddhist follow traditions, rituals, beliefs, and practices which are originally based on the teachings of Buddha (Gautama Buddha or Siddhartha Gautama) from India.
Here we bring to you, some of the most fascinating facts about Buddhism and the Buddhist culture.
1. The title ‘Buddhism’ was given by Western scholars whereas originally the former Buddhists didn’t refer to their religion as Buddhism
Despite this religion being originated from ancient India, the followers of Buddha in India never actually called their religion Buddhism or referred to themselves as Buddhist. In fact, the name of the religion as Buddhism was given by Westerners around the 1830s. Only after this time, the followers of this culture all around the world were called Buddhists.
2. Despite Indian origin, the largest population of Buddhists are from another nation i.e., China
There are more than 500 million followers of Buddhist culture that covers about 7 percent of the total global population. Out of this, about 244 million Buddhists belong to the Chinese schools of Buddhism in China. That means almost 18 percent of total Buddhists from the world belong to the Chinese population.
3. Some nations have more than 90% of their population following Buddhism
The culture that was first introduced by India soon flared globally due to its divine teachings and sacred beliefs. Nations like Thailand and Colombia have such influence on this culture that more than 90% of their total population follows Buddhism. These places are very well known for their Buddhist population and culture.
4. Mahayana Buddhism is the branch of Buddhism that is most widely practiced
Mahayana Buddhism is one of the two broad branches of Buddhist culture. This mainly is based on wisdom and knowledge and has a lesser inclination towards nirvana. 53% of total Buddhist follow Mahayana Buddhism. Mahayana Buddhism has a greater influence on nations like China, Mongolia, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Bhutan, Korea, and Vietnam.
5. Theravada Buddhism is the second most widely practiced branch of Buddhism
Theravada branch of Buddhism is practiced in most of the oldest schools of Buddhism in Asia. It believes in concentration and meditation as two main paths for self-liberation and enlightenment. Of the total Buddhist population, 36 percent follow Theravada Buddhism. It is also called ‘Southern Buddhism’ and it is considered as most close to the traditional Buddha teachings.
6. Buddhism is globally considered as the 4th largest religion at present
Religion has a prime role in different cultures and traditions worldwide. Religion constantly keeps influencing society and the whole population. Buddhism is among the top 5 religions followed worldwide with Christianity being at the topmost position, Islam in the second place and Hinduism in the third place, and then Buddhism ranking 4th largest religion in the world by the number of adherents.
7. There is no single holy book based completely on Buddhism
Most of the religions have some holy or sacred book completely based on that religion which holds the knowledge of all the traditions, rituals, beliefs, and cultures that should be followed. But in Buddhism, there is no such single holy book known to date. Instead, there are various pieces of literature and scriptures in different Asian languages that preserve all the traditional knowledge of Buddhism.
8. Buddhism doesn’t believe in a supreme creator god or avatar instead views Buddha as a teacher
Siddhartha Gautama was born to an Indian royal family as a prince but he soon left his palace and all his wealth to follow the path of truth and enlightenment. He was then entitled as ‘Buddha’ (Gautama Buddha). He traveled his entire life for about 80 years and spent his entire life teaching about self-liberation and attainment of enlightenment. All branches of Buddhism consider Buddha as their teacher and not an avatar or creator or god.
9. Buddhists from the oldest schools of Buddhism don’t consider Buddhism as a religion
As per the ancient texts and knowledge, Buddhism is not a religion instead it is a way of life. It is not a religion as there is no supreme god or creator to worship. Its ultimate goal is to achieve the state of Nirvana. Surprisingly Buddhism can exist even without Gautama Buddha, as he discovered ways and paths of enlightenment and shared it with others.
10. The concept of Karma is well explained in Buddhist texts and teachings
The term Karma is a Sanskrit word that means ‘action‘ or doing something. The theory of Karma in Buddhism explains that action done at present will have a similar consequence in the future. It is not a system of punishment but instead can be considered as a law of nature similar to Newton’s third law of motion which states that “ every action has an equal and opposite reaction”.