Sidharath Gautam was born in Kapilavastu (now in Nepal) about 2000 years ago (about 563-483 B.C) He lived in a palace of his ruler father till the age of 29. In the meantime he had gone out of his own and seen miseries of starving poor and old man approaching death. He was moved and left his wife and child sleeping at midnight. He lived on few grains a day to feel the miseries of starvation. But after three years he felt he could not do anything for anybody in this poor health. So Sidharath Gautam started taking moderate diet. He traveled in search of enlightenment and reached outskirts of a village called Gaya and sat under a tree meditating and accepting food from a village girl. He decided to remain there unless he got answer to his quest. After prolonged meditation in a yogic pose he felt the cause of all miseries was desire and ignorance. Knowing these aspects leads to mental peace or as Buddhists call Enlightenment.
All Buddhists or those who accept Buddhism, as most of the Chinese, Japanese and South East Asians, besides a good number of Indians after Ashoka embraced Buddhism to renounce War, follow what is called three jewels of Budhism. Buddha Dharma ie, teachings and Sangha the community. Accordingly at the beginning of most gatherings of Buddhists, people recite three times. “I go to the Sangha for refuge” Buddhists greet each other “May all beings be happy.” Buddhist philosophy and teaching of Nirvana means to blow out flames of greed, hatred and ignorance. There are two sects or schools of Buddhism viz. Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism. Theravada Buddhism is almost extinct, except in Sri Lanka and some South Asian Countries and is called Southern Buddhism. Mahayana Buddhism means great vehicle. It is also called Northern Buddhism as it is mostly found in Northern Asia, China and Japan. For example Dalai Lama and his followers are Mahayana Buddhists. There is also a third category of Buddhists- Zen Buddhists. Zen means meditation. Zen Buddhists believe that everyday activities are ‘right material for meditation.’
In modern times because of colonialism by the West and consequent wars of occupation or colonization, most Buddhist countries like China and Japan, if not abandoned, diluted Buddhism by accepting Marxism as in China, and militant nationalism as in Japan and elsewhere. In India, Buddhism almost became extinct because of aggressive Muslim Conquests and rule for 700 years or more. India has now seen revival of Buddhism, to some extent, because of Dr Ambedkar, framer of Indian Constitution.
Change is law of nature. All religions, even communism of Marx, have changed a lot, particularly during 20th century because of industrial revolution followed by revolution in information technology. Buddhist ideology and name of Gautam Buddha will, however, inspire people and motivate them to be good human beings.