We have described Buddhism as a challenge to Vedic Hinduism. Along with the Mahavira, who founded Jainism a generation before him, Gautama, the Buddha (perhaps 563-476 B.C.E., perhaps as much as a century later), asked for a reform of the sacrifices and outwardness that characterized the religion of his day. We deal with the enlightenment of Gautama himself in the next section, treating it as the paradigm of Buddhist searches for liberation. Here, the key historical point is that Gautama considered that he had found a better way than that provided by the popular Vedism of his time.
The history of Buddhism is the story of Gautama's way -- how it fared, first in India and then after moving east; how it articulated itself through such pan-Buddhist forms as "the three jewels" (the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha [the community]) and the three principal religious concerns, or "pillars" (meditation, morality, and wisdom); and how from these beginnings and developments it has come down the historical road to present times as "The Middle Way," a graceful humanism almost always poised to become an arresting mysticism.
The Vedic religion to which Gautama objected tended to stress sacrifice to the gods for material or spiritual benefits. The metaphysical foundations that Gautama wanted to overhaul included karma,samsara, and moksha. The (mythical) stories about Gautama's passage to Bud-