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Buddhism is one of the major religions of the world It was founded by Siddhartha Guatama Buddha in Northeastern India It arose as a monastic movement during a time of Brahman tradition Buddhism rejected important views of Hinduism It did not recognize the validity of the Vedic Scriptures nor the sacrificial cult which arose from it It also questioned the authority of the priesthood Also the Buddhist movement was open to people of all castes denying that a persons worth could be judged by their blood The religion of Buddhism has 150 to 350 million followers around the world The wide range is due to two reasons The tendency for religious affiliation to be nonexclusive is one The other is the difficulty in getting information from Communist countries such as China Its followers have divided into two main branches Theravada and Mahayana Theravada the way of the elders is dominant in India Sri Lanka Burma Laos Thailand and Cambodia Mahayana the greater vehicle refers to the Theravada as Hinayana the lesser vehicle It is dominant in India Tibet Japan Nepal Taiwan China Korea Vietnam and Mongolia Siddhartha Guatama was born in Kapilivastu His father was the ruler of the small kingdom near the IndianNepal border As a child his future was foretold by sages They believed that he would someday be a fellow sage or leader of a great empire He led a very pampered and sheltered life until the age of twenty-nine It was at that time that he realized that he had led an empty life He renounced his wealth and embarked on a journey to seek truth enlightenment and the cycle of rebirths In
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