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However, scholars such as Richard Gombrich consider this a dubious claim because a combination of evidence suggests he was born in the Shakyas community – one that later gave him the title Shakyamuni, and the Shakya community was governed by a small oligarchy or republic-like council where there were no ranks but where seniority mattered instead.

According to the Buddhist sutras, Gautama was moved by the innate suffering of humanity and its endless repetition due to rebirth.

In Buddhism, Karma (from Sanskrit: "action, work") drives saṃsāra – the endless cycle of suffering and rebirth for each being.

Good, skilful deeds (Pali: "kusala") and bad, unskilful deeds (Pāli: "akusala") produce "seeds" in the unconscious receptacle (ālaya) that mature later either in this life or in a subsequent rebirth.

Rather than Nirvana, Mahayana instead aspires to Buddhahood via the bodhisattva path, a state wherein one remains in the cycle of rebirth to help other beings reach awakening.

Vajrayana, a body of teachings attributed to Indian siddhas, may be viewed as a third branch or merely a part of Mahayana.

Buddhism is the world's fourth-largest religion, with over 520 million followers or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists.

While Buddhism considers the liberation from Saṃsāra as the ultimate spiritual goal, in traditional practice, the primary focus of a vast majority of lay Buddhists has been to seek and accumulate merit through good deeds, donations to monks and various Buddhist rituals in order to gain better rebirths rather than nirvana.

While the Noble Eightfold Path is best-known in the west, a wide variety of practices and stages have been used and described in the Buddhist traditions.

one starts to disengage from craving and clinging to impermanent states and things.

The term "path" is usually taken to mean the Noble Eightfold Path, but other versions of "the path" can also be found in the Nikayas.

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