Buddha is a key figure in Buddhism. The recitals about his life, his saying, dialogues with students and monastic testaments were summarized by his followers after his death and became the basis for Buddhist canons known as Tripitaka. Buddha as well is a personage of many Indian religions, in particular, Bon (late Bon) and Hinduism. In the Middle ages in the late Indian Puranas (for example, in Bgahavad Purana) he was included in the number of Vishnu avatars instead of Balarama.
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There is not enough data for the scientific reconstruction of Buddha biography by modern science. Biography of Buddha is therefore traditionally given on the basis of authentic Buddhist texts: Life of Buddha, Ashvagosha, and Lalitavistara.
However, it is necessary to take into account that the first texts related to Buddha appeared only four hundred years after his death. To this moment in the recitals of him changes were brought in by monks, in particular, for the exaggeration of the figure of Buddha.
In addition, works of ancient Indians did not cover chronological moments, as they were more concentrated on philosophical aspects. It is well reflected in Buddhist texts, where the description of Shakiamuni ideas prevails the description of the period, when it all took place.
The early western science accepted the biography of Buddha, presented in the Buddhist scripts, as the real history. However, today’s researches reluctantly consent to give unconfirmed information about the historical facts related to Buddha’s life and his doctrine.
A key reference-point for dating Buddha’s life is the beginning of the reign of the buddhis emperor Ashoka. On the basis of Ashoka’s edicts and dates of the Hellenism tsars, to whom he directed his ambassadors, reigning, the researches date the beginning of Ashoka’s reign to 268 B.C.
Pali sources show that Buddha died 218 prior to this event. The radiocarbon dating shows that some settlements that Buddha visited in obedience to Pali canon were not populated till 500 B.C. (±100), that compels to doubt in such an early date, as 486 B.C. In addition, the consideration of accessible to us information on Jainism history compels us to suppose that Buddha and Mahavira, the tirthankara of Jainism who died some time before Buddha, both died between 410 and 390 B.C.
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