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Fundamentals of Buddhism

Today I would like to spend a little bit of time on
the life of the Buddha. I do not intend to spend too
much time on the life and career of the Buddha since
most of the biography is essentially narrative. But I
would like to take the opportunity today to draw
attention to a few important Buddhist values which
come through strikingly in the life of the Buddha.
Last week we talked about the two traditions and
how the two traditions which were originally very
distinct gradually began to interact and eventually fused
in India and we said that the beginning of this process of
interaction can be placed about the time of the Buddha.
In fact during the time of the Buddha, we can see the
beginning of the interaction and it was a process that
continued until a thousand years later when the two
traditions fused and became difficult to differentiate. It
is not perhaps a coincidence that one of the primary
areas where the two traditions came into the most active
contact was in the area known as Madhyadesha, the area
around what is now Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
This area was regarded by the Brahmins as an area of
challenge to the Aryan tradition. It happens that when
two traditions of this nature meet, it creates an
atmosphere where there is a great potential for the
growth of new religious directions. To a large extent we
can see the life and teachings of the Buddha in this
context. In addition to the interaction of the two
religious traditions, there were also significant social,
economic and political changes that were taking place
and which we have touched on last week. All these