Buddhism is the English name for the philosophy based on the teachings of the Buddha. The name was first penned in 1801 by an Englishman writing about Sri Lanka, and for some decades afterwards was spelled either Bouddhism or Booddhism. The Buddha always called his philosophy of life The Noble Ones' Teachings (Ariyadhamma) or Truth and Training (Dhammavinaya) and asked his disciples to refer to themselves as Scions of the Sakyan, i.e. of the Buddha (Sakyaputta, S.I,192). Someone once asked ânanda what sort of monk he was and he replied: `I am a Sakyaputta monk'(A.V,196). Sometimes the first Buddhists were known by others simply as Gotama's disciples (Gotama sàvaka, Dhp.296).

Buddhism is the fourth largest religion after Christianity, Islam and Hinduism and there are about 500 million Buddhists in the world today.