The History of Buddhism stretches all the way back to 6th century BC when Buddha Siddhartha Gautama was born in the region of Lumbini, Nepal. Buddhism is perhaps one of the earliest religions that is still widely practiced today. This religion was expanded from India all the way to South East Asia. There were times when the whole of the continent professed or had some connection to Buddhism.
Through meditation, Siddhartha Gautama, or also known as simply “the Buddha” attained what is known as the Buddhist Middle Way. The road to moderation which rejected self-indulgence and even self-mortification.
The Buddha reached a state of enlightenment while meditating underneath a ficus tree, also known as Bodhi tree in Buddhism. The emperor Bimbisara later embraced Buddhism as his faith and that is when he permitted many Buddhist temples to be opened. In a northern region of India, the Buddha is said to have put in motion the so-called Wheel of Dharma, holding his very first sermon with a group of friends. This is when the first Buddhist monks or nuns appeared.
The early forms of Buddhism were practiced in the Ganges valley. During the 5th century BC, the first Buddhist council took place, with the purpose of recording Buddha’s life lessons and to indoctrinate them. The following century, another Buddhist council would take place to discuss the laxness with which many Buddhist monks had been exhibiting in relation to the original Buddhist doctrine.
A high point in Buddist history was when the Mauryan Emperor decided to convert to Buddhism following the very violent siege of Kalinga. When he realized the abominations and despair brought that the armed conflict had caused, he simply chose to give up violence as a way of life and to replace it with respect and good values and principles. He tried to invigorate Buddhism by expanding temples and promoted the respect of all animal life.