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History of Punjab: Buddhism in the Punjab
Sidhartha When idolatry started to prevail; when God had been extended to thousands of terrestrial gods; when the influence of Brahmins and caste was surpreme; there arose a reformer, whose object was to emancipate people and awaken them. This was Buddha, the celebrated sage and hermit prince, whose religion has been accepted by nearly half the human race. His original name was Sidhartha, and he was the son of Suddhodana, who reigned over a large kingdom at the foot of the Nepal mountains. Born in 622 B.C., he had two wives, a number of concubines, with whom he lived a life of luxury and pleasure. When he became 29 years old, while walking out of his palace, he saw a decrepit old man, with trembling limbs, covered in sores. Sidhartha claimed: "Woe to the earth, which is a vale of misery, and to the world, which is full of pain!" Sidhartha then resolved to retire from the world, left his palace, his wives, and children.
His Beliefs Sidhartha subjected himself to the seveest penances, enduring hunger, thirst, heat, cold, and storms. He gave himself up to meditation and arrived at the knowledge necessary to enable a man to disregard the evils that flesh is heir to. He concluded four sublime truths: pain; the creation of the pain; freedom from pain; and the means of its annihilation, which is the attainment of eternal bliss. He called himself the Buddha, the enlightened, and preached the doctrines of his religion to his fellow-creatures. His last words were, Nothing Continues, indicating plainly that beyond death there is nothing but extinction and absorption into the Divine Being.
Spread of Buddhism His religion spread over the whole of India, but after a hard contest for fifteen hundred years, it finally gave way to Brahminism, which has outlived its formidable rival. In the abstract, Buddhism was atheism, coupled with a system of rigid self-mortifications and penances. A religion so barren in its results proved distasteful to the lively and imaginative people of India, and was discarded by them. Budhism attained its greatest extent and influence under the benevolent reign of Asoka in 275 B.C.. His kingdom extended from the mouth of the Ganges on the east to the Indus on the west. Renouncing the Hindu faith, he became a convert to Buddhism, and by his zeal extended the doctrines of his new faith by sending political missions to China, Thibet, Burma, Siam, Ceylon, Cambodia, and Java. The great Asoka tolerated Hinduism and preached peace and fellowship among men.