Gautama Buddha was born in the Kingdom of Kapilavastu at the foot of the Himalayas, about two thousand Sixty years ago. He attained Buddhahood at the age of thirty five. He was widely recognised as the Buddha after attaining Buddhahood. Hepreached religion for forty five years and breathed His last at the age of eighty.
Racial conflicts and class differences were acutely prevalent in the society at His time. To remove these differences, he gave importance on His Principles. According to Buddhist religion, this doctrine is the basic foundation of world peace. It is the main weapon through which a man can drive away all sorts of sorrows, injustice, hatred, differences and conflicts. So the practice of this doctrine in the society is badly needed. It is because of this doctrine the Buddhism has crossed the border of India and reached the farthest part of the world. There were no wars or no blood shed for this. This doctrine of the Buddha teaches people to be respectful of one another, to be liberal towards others views and attitudes. This doctrine ensures basic human rights of all people belonging to different castes and creed. In order to flourish this idealism, Buddha used this Principle first in the establishment of his Bhikkhu Sangha. He allowed access of all classes of people irrespective of caste and creed to His Bhikkhu Sangha.
When the Buddha was residing in the Purbaram of Sravasti made by Mahaupashika Visakha He addressed the Bhikkhus, O Bhikkhus, the rivers named The Ganga, The Jamuna, the Soravu have lost their individual identity falling in to the ocean, so all people Kshatriya, Brahmins, Boishya, Sudra lost their identity. All men are equal here.
From the above explanation it can be realised that Sangha established by the Buddha was open to all classes of people. At that time racial conflict were seriously affecting the society. Candal, sweepers, cobblers were considered people of lower class. They had no right to take part in religious and social activities. They were deprived of religious or social activities. They were hated and the others always maintained a distance from them. But Bhikkhu Ananda, one of the Buddha’s disciples, drank water from the hand of a Candal’s daughter. By doing so he brought about a revolution in the society.
Even the Buddha accepted the invitation of a prostitute named Amrapali and recognised her existence in the society as a social human being.
From the Vasal Sutta lesson of the Suttanipata we learn that Matanga was the son of a Candal by birth. Later on he attained Pabbajja giving up all types of greed, ignorance, thirst for riches, worldly pleasure and by following the morality, meditation and wisdom obtained Arhantship. He was Possessed of some rare qualities. Then many youths of Brahmins and Kshatriya founds engaged themselves to serve him. This also relates that even though belonging to the Kshatriya or Brahmin family, many of them were addicted to sinful acts. In the light of this description we see that for attainment of spiritual freedom of Nibbana, a man’s birth, caste, creed are neither obstacle nor helpful. The deeds of a man determine his identity. The Buddha says in the Vasal Sutta, in the book Suttanipata, ‘Na jacca vasalo hoti, na jacca hoti Brahmano, Kammuna Vasalo hoti, Kammuna hoti Brahmano’, that means none becomes Vasal or Candal or Brahmin by birth. A man becomes Candal or Brahmin by deeds. None can become Brahmin by virtue of caste, race of colour. In the Brahmana Vagga of the book Dhammapada we find same description, as like, Na jatahi no gottena na jacca hoti Brahmano, yamhi saccanca dhammo ca so suci so ca Brahmano. This means that not by matted hair, nor by lineage, nor by birth does one become a holy man. But he in whom truth and righteousness exist- is pure. He is a holy man.
Moreover the Buddha has said in his Vasettha Sutta that there is no discrimination between man and man. There are differences among the animals in being male, female, in their colour, physical stature etc. But we can hardly find any difference among human beings.
In fact, different aspects of human beings like their sorrows, happiness, wisdom,rituals, and rites are almost alike.
At the time of the Buddha, the birth of a female child was unwelcoming. It is known from the Kosala Samjukta lesson that The Chief Queen Mallika Devi gave birth to a female child. Kosala Raj Prasenjit became upset at this. The Buddha came to know this and said to the King Prasenjit that none should be upset at the birth of a female child. If that baby is meritorious, religious and dutiful to household affairs, she must be superior to a male child. Even this baby can give birth to such babies which can perform noble deeds in future, and she can rule a vast kingdom. Hearing all this, the King accepted the birth of a female child as an auspicious incident.
During the life of the Buddha, many discriminations were prevalent in the society. The Buddha came forward to removing all these discriminations. People are always trying to establish these doctrines in the society from the time immemorial. It was the Buddha who took steps to reform the society through this doctrine and introduced peace in the world.