Sample Material of UPSC Mains Philosophy (Optional) Study Kit
Topic: Indian Philosophy (Buddhism)
Gautama Buddha (563 B.C.– 483 B.C.) was the founder of Buddhism.
Buddhism gives importance to the impermanence of existence
and the sufferings associated with it. All existence, animate or animate, being
in a state of flux, undergoes changes incessantly. Nothing is permanent.
Existence is the source of all suffering. Life is suffering. The impermanence
itself is the greatest dukha. Ignorance leads to sufferings and bondage. Karma
is born out of ignorance. Karmic impressions are carried from this birth to the
next birth. This means that the present conditions of life are the results of
the past karma. Every thought, word or action of the past existence has a
bearing on the present existence.
The most ‘striking’ feature of Buddhism is the doctrine of
non-self (Anatta). In a glaring and sharp contrast to the major philosophies,
the Buddhism does not accept the permanent entity such as ‘soul’ or the ‘atman’.
It maintains that there is no permanent and enduring entity in man. There is no
distinct entity as the self or the soul. Buddhism advances the theory of
Nirvana. Nirvana is a state of total freedom and no sufferings. With perfect
knowledge, perfect peace and perfect wisdom, man is free from all bondage in a
state of Nirvana.
Lord Buddha has presented four Noble Truths:
(1) Existence is invariably associated with suffering.
(2) Every suffering (dukha) has a cause.
(3) Suffering can be eliminated if the cause is eliminated.
(4) There is a path to Nirvana which puts an end to all sufferings.
The eight-fold path to Nirvana suggested by the Buddha is:
(1) Right views
(2) Right resolve
(3) Right speech
(4) Right conduct
(5) Right livelihood
(6) Right effort
(7) Right mindfulness
(8) Right concentration.
Buddhism is divided into two sects: Mahayana and Hinayana. Mahayana
literature is written in Sanskrit and Hinayana literature is written in Pali.