Buddhism is a religion to about 300 million people around the world. The word comes from 'budhi', 'to awaken'. It has its origins about 2,500 years ago when Siddhartha Gotama, known as the Buddha, was himself awakened (enlightened) at the age of 35.
Siddhartha Gotama was born into a royal family in Lumbini, now located in Nepal, in 563 BC. At 29, he realised that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness, so he explored the different teachings religions and philosophies of the day, to find the key to human happiness. After six years of study and meditation he finally found 'the middle path' and was enlightened. After enlightenment, the Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching the principles of Buddhism — called the Dhamma, or Truth — until his death at the age of 80.
Buddhism is more of a philosophy or 'way of life' and goes beyond religion. It is a philosophy because philosophy 'means love of wisdom' .
Buddhist path can be summed up as:
(1) to lead a moral life,
(2) to be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, and
(3) to develop wisdom and understanding.
Buddhism explains a purpose to life, it explains apparent injustice and inequality around the world, and it provides a code of practice or way of life that leads to true happiness.
Buddhism has answers to many of the problems in modern materialistic societies. It also includes (for those who are interested) a deep understanding of the human mind (and natural therapies) which prominent psychologists around the world are now discovering to be both very advanced and effective.
There are many different types of Buddhism, because the emphasis changes from country to country due to customs and culture. What does not vary is the essence of the teaching — the Dhamma or truth.
The term Monastery has been derived from a Greek word 'monasterion', which means the habitat and workplace of a community of monks or nuns. Monasteries are usually occupied by a dozen monks ( Lamas ) or nuns( Chomos) and often child Novices. The monastery also has a Centre for Buddhist Cultural Studies where young monks are taught Arithmetic, English, and Hindi besides traditional monastic education. The Indian state of Bihar, being the focal point of Buddhism, boasts of several major Buddhist religious monument centres such as Bodh Gaya and temples like Maha Bodhi temple. Then there are monasteries such as Tabo and Namgyal in Himachal Pradesh, which have a lot of Tibetan influence on them. Similarly, hilltop buddhist monasteries of Ladakh are one of the best living traditions of Tibetan Buddhism in the world today. Also visit the Monasteries of Sikkim, which are one of their kind. Some of the northeastern states of India like Aunachal Pradesh also prides in housing some very ancient and largest monasteries in India.
Do write to us, to have an enriching, spiritual experience of visiting a monastry either at the
beginning or end of your tour.