The following points highlight the five important teachings of Lord Buddha. The teachings are: 1. Prominence to Character 2. Belief in Karma and Re-Birth 3. Disbelief in the Existence of God 4. Ahimsa 5. Caste System.
Teaching # 1. Prominence to Character:
Buddha laid great emphasis on moral life rather than worship. He attached too much importance to the building of the moral character and laid down various principles for the purpose.
These rules of morality insisted on speaking of truth, love and benevolence, obedience to parents and respect to elders, living life of chastity, abstaining from intoxicating drinks, charity, kindness and mercy to the sick and to all living-beings.
Teaching # 2. Belief in Karma and Re-Birth:
Gautama Buddha believed in the theory of karma and held that the condition of people in this life and the next rests on his karma. A man reaps what he sows Sand no god or goddesses can change it. No person can escape the consequences of his deeds.
A person is born again and again to reap the fruits of his karma. Buddha held that “If an individual sins no more he dies no more and when he dies no more, he is born no more and thus he come to live the life of Final Bliss.” Though the doctrine of karma was not a new contribution of Buddha because it was already known but credit goes to Buddha for popularizing this doctrine.
Teaching # 3. Disbelief in the Existence of God:
Because of his firm belief in the theory of karma, Buddha did not play any attention to the issue regarding God. This silence has been interpreted by the scholars as disbelief in the existence of God. In fact, Buddha neither accepted nor rejected the existence of god and goddesses.
Teaching # 4. Ahimsa:
Ahimsa was another prominent feature of the teachings of Lord Buddha. According to him spirit of love is more important than good deeds and considered non-violence as an integral part of practical morality.
However, Buddha did not attach as much importance to Ahimsa as was attached by Jainism. Further although he insisted on love and non-violence for the living beings, he permitted his followers to take meat under certain circumstances.
Teaching # 5. Caste System:
Gautama Buddha vehemently criticised caste system and did not believe in. caste distinctions. According to him all men are equal and the status of a person is determined by his karmas. He believed that caste of a person does’ not depend on his birth but on his deeds. This principle of Buddha greatly appealed to the people of all castes and they came to his fold in large numbers.
Thus we find that the principles and teachings of Buddha were very simple and were debarred of all pomp and superstitions. He did not introduce any dogmatic religion but simply insisted on purity of thought, speech and action. He was the first rationalist of the world who asserted that one was one’s own saviour and master without reference to any outside power.