Siddhartha Gautama (c. 563-483 BC), the founder of Buddhism, was born a wealthy prince in northeastern India (map 2). Renouncing worldly trappings and achieving enlightenment, or nirvana, he became known as the Buddha (the Enlightened). Gautama lived at a time of great religious ferment in India, and Buddhism was one of a number of sects that aimed to reform Hinduism. Another, more extreme, reform movement was Jainism, whose asceticism was a reaction to the rigid ritualism of Hinduism.
While Buddhist missionaries taught the Buddhist principles many took the religion with them and spread it. Buddhism shared with Hinduism the belief in the cycle of rebirth, but differed in the way in which escape from the cycle could be achieved. Indeed the appearance of Buddhism stimulated a resurgence in Hinduism, which may be why Buddhism failed to take a permanent hold in India.
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