Decoding Buddhism: 21 Things You Must Know About Buddhism


You must have seen Monks, Buddhist monasteries, and must have definitely spun the holy prayer wheels if you ever went to a monastery. But every time you saw those monasteries, those monks in orange and maroon robes, and those spinning wheels, there must have been some part of the inquisitive you who wondered what was Buddhism all about. There are just a lot of questions, so many words that you do not know the meaning of, a number of confusions regarding Buddhism.

Though we know you want to know everything about the fascinating Buddhism, it is not possible to know everything about such a vast school of enlightenment at once. Because Buddhism is not a religion, but a school of knowledge and a way of leading peaceful life. But here are 21 interesting and illuminating facts about Buddhism which will give you a modest beginning to know it:

1. Full moon day ‘Poornima’, is a very important and sacred day for followers of Buddhism. It is the birthday of Gautam Buddha, ‘Buddha Poornima’.

buddha purnima celebration bodhgayaSource

2. If you don’t know it yet, the full name of Buddha is Siddhartha Gautama, and he’s also known by the names Gautama Buddha and Shakyamuni.

Siddhartha GautamaSource

3. Buddha was not exactly that chubby guy you see in most of his statues. The statues might have been designed that way because chubbiness is symbolic of happiness in East.

Buddha 1Source

4. And remember the fat Buddhist statue at Chinese restaurants that you put money on? It’s not Siddhartha Gautama Buddha. It’s Buddai, a Zen monk from China from the 900s.


5. Ajanta caves is a special place for Buddhists where all of Buddhism’s teachings have been carved on stones (including roofs and pillars) and painted in all 30 caves.


6. The Buddhist temples are called ‘Viharas’ and aren’t exactly temples, but places of learning alongside meditation rooms to find oneself. They also have libraries and lecture halls.


7. The name of the Indian state ‘Bihar’ came from the same word ‘Vihar’ as it used to be the Buddhist learning centre and people from all over the world used to come there for education and enlightenment.


8. Though the Viharas are not temples but places of meditation and enlightenment, you still need to remove shoes before entering, in the respect of Buddha.

Removing Shoes in ViharasSource

9. The food items that are placed in front of Buddha’s statue in the Viharas are given to the Monks since they own nothing, and Buddhism teaches that ‘giving’ helps one reach enlightenment.

Spiritual Edge/Vietnamese Buddhist New Moon CeremonySource

10. The flowers that are placed in front of the Buddha statue in the Viharas are not to just please Buddha, but to remind the person that they won’t live forever.


11. The basic goal of Buddhism is to let go off of things that make you suffer for spiritual enlightenment, not to get rid of all worldly possessions and family responsibility, which it is often misconceived as, though the latter is just an acceptable way to achieve the former.

enlightenment 11Source

12. Buddhism is the 4th largest religion in the world, with over 360 million people practising it all over the world.

Buddhist Monks PrayingSource

13. Buddhists do not pray to Buddha as a God, but learn and practice his teachings as a teacher, and follow him for wisdom, guidance, and spiritual illumination.


14. Buddhism as we know it, is not one single religion and not same throughout the world. Mahayana and Theravada are the two basic types of Buddhism.

Theravada and Mahayana-compressed

15. Theravada follows the original teachings of original Buddha, and Theravada Buddhists believe that ‘Nirvana’ (enlightenment) can be achieved over many reincarnations and mostly live in South-East Asia, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc.


16. Mahayana Buddhists believe that Buddha went to outer space and secretly taught the devas his teachings, which devas told to the Monks, who then wrote it all down, and that anyone in the world can achieve enlightenment at any point of time. They mostly live in China, Tibet, Japan, and Korea.


17. Tibetan monks wear Maroon robes, while Theravada Buddhists wear orange. The only reason for them to wear orange was that centuries back when it all started, orange coloured dye was easily available.

Exile Tibetans-India-PrayerSource

18. The Spot of Buddha’s ‘Nirvana’, the Bodhi tree has still been preserved in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India.

Bodhi TreeSource

19. The 5 main teachings of Buddha, the  Five Principles of ‘Panchsheel’ are:

No killing - Respect for life
No stealing - Respect for others’ property
No sexual misconduct - Respect for our pure nature
No lying - Respect for honesty
No intoxicants - Respect for a clear mind


20. The 4 noble truths of Buddhism are:

Suffering is common - Birth, Sickness, Old age, Death etc.
Cause of Suffering - ignorance and greed.
End of Suffering – to cut off greed and ignorance.
Path to end Suffering - the Noble Eightfold Path is the way to end suffering.

4 noble truthsSource

21. The Noble Eightfold Path suggests every Buddhist to have:

1) Right View 2) Right Intention 3) Right Speech 4) Right Action 5) Right Livelihood 6) Right Effort 7) Right Mindfulness 8) Right Concentration.

Noble Eightfold PathSource

I believe you must already be feeling a little enlightened just after reading a little about Buddhism, and will be more interested in practising the most unbiased teachings by the most enlightened spirit, Buddha. Read, appreciate, and share with us what you know or want to add to this. :)

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