Gotama Buddha was born between about 500〜400 BC and had
lived for eighty years. His birth year varies on the researchers,
give or take one hundred years. In those days there was no
habit to record dates in India, so it is said that it is surprising
that there is no more than one hundred year difference.
Gotama Buddha may be called the founder of Buddhism, but
he never intended to have become the leading figure and have
started the religion, Buddhism. In his words we have not found
such doctrines as exists in general religions. As he had told, "I never preach this." (Sutta-nipata), he headed
for the opposite course from constructing notions and doctrines.
After Buddha had died, his disciples gathered what he had
said. As time went by, Buddhism was influenced and changed
by the social surroundings or the thoughts at that time and
then fell into decline in the 13th century in India, its birth
place. Buddhism was spread abroad, both northward to China
and southward to southern Asia. In Japan Buddhism was introduced
through the northward and then every Buddhist denomination
What is referred to as 'Buddhism' is a disputable point,
though. The new Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism, which began its
rise to power before and after Christ, has something more
distinctive on a vast expanse of time and space and larger-scale
sutra, as compared with Sutta-nipata. Having skimmed through
the contents, some of them seem to be ones that had just amplified
the contents of Sutta-nipata, and others are different in
parts. And still others are summarized from a conceptional
point of view or have disappeared. Once you get rid of the
knowledge about Buddhism that you have already had in mind
and read Sutta-nipata over, you will find the wisdom, which
had been forgotten for 2500 years. (Revised June 18, 2004)
What did Buddha originally say? What is the Buddhist scriptures
that is the closest to that period? According to the latest
research, the language Buddha originally used when he talked
with his disciples is Magadha. It is said that it had been
handed down orally and about the first century BC it was put
into Pali. Pali was circulated orally southward, but afterward
PTS, Pali Text Society, which was transcribed using the Roman
alphabet in England in the nineteenth century, was published.
It is often read by the researchers even today. What are said
to be the oldest in PTS are Sutta-nipata, Dhamapada and Samyutta-nikaya.
Especially the fourth and the fifth chapter in Sutta-nipata
are said to be old. Finally sutta means sutra and nipata means
collection; therefore Sutta-nipata implies the scriptures.
.. Even for the past thirty years we have learned quite a lot, among which there is one of the following important things: However superior the logic or ideology may be, we think that it is not good for our mind to be restricted by the logic and the words. We have found out that nothing in our mind has been solved only by the logic.
..Sutta-nipata, what Buddha said as many as 2,500 years ago, leads you to the way to solve it.
(Revised April 14, 2009)
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