After a profound spiritual realization, the Buddha gathered many followers. He organized them into a community that fundamentally reshaped religious, social, and political structures.
Buddhism emerged in response to social, political, and religious changes taking place on the northern Indian subcontinent during the 8th to 6th centuries B.C.E.
Buddhism's founder was a wealthy prince, born in India in the 6th or 5th century B.C.E., who renounced wealth and power to seek enlightenment.
Originally preserved by oral tradition, Buddhist scriptures contain a record of the Buddha's teachings and structures for Buddhist social organization. As Buddhism evolved through the centuries, systematic philosophical treatises and devotional stories were added to the canon.
Scholars have criticized the popular emphasis on Buddhist philosophy and the practice of meditation over the ritual and devotional practices much more typical of Asian Buddhism.