On Paths to Enlightenment
Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices with the ultimate goal of attainment of the sublime state of Nirvana.
It has its origins about 2.500 years ago when the prince Siddhartha Gotama, known later as Buddha, was himself awakened at the age of 35. He was born into a royal family in Lumbini, today located in Nepal. After realising that wealth and luxury do not guarantee happiness he explored teachings, religions and philosophies of the day to find the key to human happiness. It took him 6 years to identify the “middle path”. After enlightenment Buddha spent rest of his life on teaching the principles of Buddhism, until his death at the age of 80.
Today Buddhism is a religion to more than 500 million people in the world, mainly living in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore and Taiwan with the biggest number of adherents in China, counting to almost 250 million.
In Myanmar 98% of population follows Buddhism. The graceful tapering shape of a pagoda painted white or gilded to a shining gold is a basic part of landscape in Myanmar, referred as the “Land of Pagodas”. During the height of Kingdom of Pagan between 11th and 13th centuries, over 10.000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2.200 still survive to a present day.