Buddhism is a religion that is very popular and widespread in Asia, based on the teachings by the Buddha. There is a set of practices, traditions and beliefs that are all based on these teachings but they vary according to different schools of thought and different countries and regions. Buddhism is estimated to have started between the 4th and 6th centuries BCE, in India, and although it rapidly became popular all over Asia, it saw a strong decline in the Middle Ages. However, Buddhism has regained its popularity later on and it remains, to the date, one of the biggest religions/philosophies in the world, occupying the fourth place in the rank of popularity. The number of adepts, in the case of Buddhism, is estimated to be set at about 500 million people (meaning seven percent of the world population).
Some of the most important teachings ad objectives of Buddhism include being able to reach liberation from all desires and yearnings. Other important religious practices recognised by Buddhism include the belief in Dharma and Sangha, reading the teachings of the Buddha and, particularly, sticking to certain moral teachings and codes that are fundamental in Buddhism, such as ridding oneself of attachments and cravings, meditating, reciting or singing mantras and many more. Some of other key elements revolving around the teachings and objectives of Buddhism include the attainment of wisdom, kindness, compassion and love.
There are two main schools or branches of Buddhism. One of them is Theravada (popular mainly in Sri Lanka and in Southeast Asia), in which the main objective is to achieve the state of Nirvana, as to escape suffering and to obtain a rebirth. The other school is Mahayana (popular in East Asia). In this school, instead of escaping it, one should ideally achieve rebirth in order to help others.