Buddhism is a major religion, founded in northeastern India. Buddhism was based on the teachings of Siddhartha Guatama, who is known as "Buddha" The Enlightened one. Buddha is divided into two major groups known as "The way of the Elders" and "Mahayana" the great vehicle. Siddhartha Guatama was born in 563 BC in Kapilavastu near the Indian-Nepal border. The young prince withdrew all his luxury and went on a quest for peace and enlightenment. When he attained the enlightenment he had been seeking, Buddha began to preach.
Going from place to place, getting more and more disciples for his ministry called the "Sangha". Buddha did not leave a written scroll or a book of teachings. So as a result later followers wrote his beliefs. At the center of Buddha enlightenment was the realization of the four noble truths. 1) Life is suffering 2) all suffering is caused by ignorance of the nature of reality and the craving, attachment and grasping the result 3) suffering can be ended by overcoming ignorance and attachment 4) the path to the suppression of suffering is the "Noble Eightfold path", which consists of right views, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindedness and right contempt ion. Also according to Buddhism a person is only a temporary combination of aggregates that include the material body, feelings, perception, predisposition or karmic tendencies and consciousness.
Buddhism spread rapidly throughout India. Missionaries introduced the religion to southern India, to the northwestern part of the land and to Sri Lanka. Buddhism had reached Myanmar by the 5th century AD. It was adopted by the Thai people between the 1100's and 1300's, and then moved into Laos and Cambodia, about the beginning of the Christian era. Buddhism was carried to Central Asia, from there it entered China by the early 1st century AD, influencing Chinese culture and, in turn, adapting itself to Chinese ways. Buddhism also expanded into Vietnam, Korea, and Japan.
Buddhism was first introduced into Tibet in the 600's and soon became a significant force in Tibetan culture. Several important new sections of Buddhism developed in China. Zen advocated the practice of meditation as the way to a sudden, intuitive realization of one's inner Buddha nature. The Pure Land section stressed faith and devotion to the Buddha Amitabh a, or Buddha of Infinite Light.