Buddhist Council - Objective, All Buddhist Council, UPSC Notes

By K Balaji|Updated : November 24th, 2022

The six Buddhist councils were established to spread the teachings and preachings of Buddhism. The first Buddhist council was headed with the primary objective of protecting the teachings of Buddha. It also brought forth a set of guidelines for the monks and the disciples. Numerous Buddhist council was established to safeguard the principles and to resolve the conflicts. After the death of the famous spiritual leader Gautama Buddha, different assemblies got instituted to resolve doctrinal disputes, recite Buddhist texts and follow the ideologies of Gautama Buddha. The assemblies that got established are famously known as Buddhist Councils.

The Buddhist assemblies were maintained under the aid of diverse monarchs and chaired by various monks. The Buddhist councils were established in different eras with the aim of addressing numerous concerns. The Buddhist council forms an eminent and integral part of the UPSC syllabus. This article facilitates complete knowledge of the first, second, and subsequent Buddhist councils. The candidates can get access to the PDF for preparing comprehensively for the exam.

Table of Content

Buddhist Councils Objective

In addition, the primary objective of these councils was to preserve Buddhism's sanctity and spread the Buddhist religion worldwide. The first Buddhist council was established with the primary objective of safeguarding the preachings of Buddhism and presenting a set of instructions for the monks and disciples.

  • The second Buddhist council was led with the aim of resolving the disputes of numeorus subdivisions.
  • The third council brought forth the concern of revamping the major educational institutions.
  • The 4th Buddhist council lead to the splitting of the Hinayana and Mahayana.
  • The fifth council examined the preachings of Buddhism in smaller pieces.
  • The sixth Buddhist council aimed to regulate and protect the Vinayana and Dhamma of Buddhism.

Keep reading the article below to read more about the Buddhist councils that will help you prepare for your upcoming competitive exams.

A Brief About Buddhism

Founded by Gautama Buddha (Sakyamuni), Buddhism is an ancient religion in India practiced worldwide. The Buddhist councils carried the objectivce of conserving and safeguarding the teachings of Gautam Buddha and Buddhism. In addition, the teachings of Buddhism remain on the following principles:

  • Four Virtuous Truths (Arya Satya) – Samudaya, Dukkha, Naroda, and Magga.
  • Eight-Fold Course (Ashtangika Marga) – Right resolve, Right thought, Right discourse, Right effort, Right earning, Right endeavour, Right mindfulness, and Right concentration (samadhi).
  • Three Treasures (Triratnas) – the Buddha, the Sangha, and the Dharma
  • Code of Conduct.
  • Belief in Nirvana.
  • Faith in Ahimsa.

What Are the Six Buddhist Councils?

All the Buddhist councils were established to cater to the primary needs of conserving the learnings of Buddhism and preachings of Gautam Buddha. Get the complete details of all the Buddhist councils that have been illustrated here. There were established six Buddhist councils in ancient times, and they are as follows:

First Buddhist Council- Established in 400 BC

  • The 1st Buddhist council met in Rajgriha at the Sattapanni caves, under the aid of King Ajatashatru. This Buddhist council was held just after the death of Gautama Buddha.
  • This council was headed by Buddhist monks Mahakasyapa.
  • The primary agenda of this Buddhist council was to safeguard the teachings of Gautama Buddha and set some guidelines for disciples and monks.
  • The monks' Upali and Ananda chanted Vinaya and Suttas. The monks also recited Abhidhamma Pitaka in this council.

Second Buddhist Council- Established in 383 BC

  • The second Buddhist council took place at Vaishali (Now in Bihar) under the aid of King Kalasoka of the Shisunaga Dynasty and was headed over by Sabakami.
  • The primary agenda of this second Buddhist council was to resolve the conflicts of various subdivisions.
  • This Buddhist council repudiated the Mahasangikas as canonical Buddhist literature. It is why this council holds a special place in Indian history.

Third Buddhist Council– Established in 250 BC

  • The 3rd Buddhist council took place under the aid of renowned Emperor Ashoka at Pataliputra in the Magadha Empire and was headed over by Moggaliputta Tissa.
  • The main agenda of this Buddhist council was to examine the various Buddhism educational institute and refine them.
  • Emperor Ashoka sent different groups to different nations to spread the preachings of Buddhism after this council.

Fourth Buddhist Council- Established in 72 AD

  • The fourth Buddhist council took place in Kashmir in the era of Emperor Kanishka of the Kushan Dynasty and was headed by Asvaghosha and Vasumitra.
  • The primary agenda of this fourth Buddhist council was to intervene in various confrontations between different schools of introspection.
  • Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism sects split after this fourth Buddhist council.

Fifth Buddhist Council- Established in 1871

  • The fifth Buddhist council took place at Mandalay in Burma, now Myanmar, under the aid of King Mindon of Burma Kingdom and was headed by the Narindabhidhaja, Jagarabhivamsa, and Sumangalasami.
  • The principal plan of this Buddhist council was to chant all the Buddhism preachings by Gautama Buddha and examine them in little pieces.

Sixth Buddhist Council- Established in 1954

  • The Sixth Buddhist Council took place at Kaba Aye in Myanmar(Burma) and Yangon(Rangoon) under the aid of Prime Minister U. Nu of the Republic of Myanmar. It was headed over by Bhadanta Vicittasarabhivamsa and Mahasi Sayadaw
  • The primary agenda of the sixth Buddhist council was to maintain and conserve the genuine Vinaya and Dhamma of Buddhism.

Buddhist Texts 

The Buddhist texts are an eminent part of the enshrining information about Buddhism. The major stratification of the texts are as listed here- Sutta Pitaka, Vinaya Pitaka, and Abhidhamma Pitaka. Buddhist texts 

  • Dhammapada comprises an assemblage of preachings of Buddha. It is imprinted in the verse format. Dhammapada is a segment of the Sutta Pitaka.
  • Milinda Panha comprises the conversation between Milinda and Nagasena. This enshrines the questions put forth by Milinda pertaining to Buddhism.
  • Buddhacharita is a poem picturizing the life of Buddha. It was penned by Ashvaghosha.

Buddhist Council For UPSC Exam

The aspirants preparing for the IAS exam can get the complete details of the exam to be able to gain insights into the core concepts. The Buddhist Council and Buddhism form an integral topic of the UPSC syllabus.

Buddhist Council UPSC PDF

The aspirants can practice the previous year papers to get complete ideation of the types of questions asked in the exam from this topic. The difference between Hinayana and Mahayana of Buddhism also holds importance for the exam.

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FAQs on Buddhist Council

  • The second Buddhist council took place in 383 BC under King Kalasoka in Vaishali. The main objective of the Buddhist council was to resolve the disputes of the subdivisions. This council possesses a special place in history for the repudiation of Mahasangikas as canonical Buddhist literature.

  • The third Buddhist council planned to examine the various Buddhism educational institute and refine them. The 3rd Buddhist council was headed by the renowned Emperor Ashoka. To spread the preachings to different niches of the world, Ashoka sent groups to varied nations.

  • The fourth Buddhist council took place in Kashmir. The council was headed by Asvaghosha and Vasumitra. This council leads the separation of the Hinayana and Mahayana sects. It was conducted during the reign of Emperor Kanishka of the Kushan dynasty and was headed by Asvaghosha and Vasumitra.

  • The Buddhist monks Mahakasyapa headed the first Buddhist council. It was conducted after the death of Gautama Buddha. The primary objective of the Buddhist council was to conserve and safeguard the preachings of Gautam Buddha.

  • The main objectives of the Buddhism councils were to conserve and preserve the teachings and preachings of Buddhism. All the councils were established with different objectives in different eras. The second council led to the splitting and separation of Hinayana and Mahayana.

  • The Buddhist texts comprise eminent and integral information about Buddha and Buddhism. The major classification of the texts follows as Sutta Pitaka, Vinaya Pitaka, and Abhidhamma Pitaka. Examples of Buddhist texts are-

    • Dhammapada
    • Milinda Panha
    • Buddhacharita

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