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Big Era Four: Closeup Unit 4.4.1

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The Budding of Buddhism
563 BCE – 150 CE

Why This Unit?

Though Buddhism is popularly referred to as a religion, it is in fact a way of life. Siddhartha Gautama, or the Buddha, became enlightened with Four Noble Truths about life. From these truths, he developed the Eight-Fold Path to achieving Nirvana. This unit will aid students in distinguishing the religious changes that occurred in the development of Buddhism out of early Hinduism, often referred to by scholars as Brahmanism. Students will examine ancient Hindu traditions and beliefs and their influence on the Buddha’s life. This knowledge will then help them empathize with Buddha and will assist them in understanding his search for a way to eliminate suffering, thereby establishing the Buddhist way of life.

This unit should be used after teaching the history, traditions, and influence of early Hinduism on ancient India. By comprehending Hinduism and its influence on early Buddhists, students will be able to evaluate the factors that contributed to the spread of ideas across Asia.

Today, many factors continue to affect the growth of Buddhism. It is interesting to note that, though Buddhism began in India, it diffused throughout the world. It is now only the fifth largest religion in India, Hinduism being the first. In the final portion of this unit, students will discuss practices that have arisen from Buddhism. These customs include the use of stupas and mandalas in the ancient and modern world and the spread of these sacred objects to areas around the world.

 

Unit Objectives

Upon completing this unit, students will be able to:

1. Explain the major Hindu (Brahmanist) beliefs that aided in the evolution of Buddhism.

2. Describe the life of the Buddha and his moral teachings.

3. Explain the aesthetic, intellectual, and spiritual traditions of Buddhism.

4. Analyze the link between Buddhism and other world cultural traditions.

 

Time and Materials

This unit will take approximately four class periods of one hour each. The unit requires postersize paper, color pencils, pencils, color construction paper, and white letter-size paper.

Table of Contents

Why this unit?

2

Time and materials

2

Unit objectives

2

Author

2

The historical context

3

This unit in the Big Era timeline

10

Lesson 1: The Life of the Buddha

11

Lesson 2: A Recipe for Buddhism

26

Lesson 3: Meditation Mandalas

29

Final Assessment: Buddhism ABCs

33

This unit and the Three Essential Questions

35

This unit and the Seven Key Themes

35

This unit and the Standards in Historical Thinking

35

Resources

36

Correlations to National and State Standards

37

Conceptual links to other teaching units

38

Complete Teaching Unit in PDF Format

 

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