8. Teaching and last words
Buddha founded a sangha or organization with his five disciples in order to effectively spread his ideas and way of life. Many others soon joined the Sangha.
Buddha walked through the villages of India. Back then there was no India as a country. But a vast land with a lot of people.
At that time these people lived in a society that was rigidly divided in classes or castes. Only people belonging to the higher caste had the right to education and religious teachings.
But Buddha did not restrict his teachings to a particular caste. Anybody could get it from him or the Sangha. They were not required to become a monk or follow any rituals.
In a way, it was a revolutionary movement. Suffering people from all casts, economic backgrounds and social status including murderers like Angulimala and cannibals like Alavaka found refuge in his teachings.
Buddha lived a long life and throughout this time Buddhism spread over the subcontinent.
Buddhist ideas like compassion and non violence profoundly affected the way people thought. Even after a couple of thousand years later, its effect is still visible.
When Buddha grew about 80 years old, he started walking north, toward his birth place. He knew that he was going to die.
On his way, Buddha fell ill at a small village called Kushinagar. When it was clear that he was going to die, one of his disciples requested him to hold on just a little longer. So that he could die in a big city and a royal funeral could be arranged. But Buddha replied that rather a small place was appropriate.
Before he died, Buddha asked his disciples about any questions or doubts about his teachings. But they remained silent.
His last words before dying were these, “all composite things in this world are perishable, pursue your own liberation with diligence.”