Gautam Buddha is believed to have renounced the world at the age of twenty- nine. For nine years after his renunciation, he performed austere penance till he attained enlightenment at Bodhgaya. For forty-six years thereafter, till his Maha- pari Nirvana-.he untiringly travelled throughout the country propagating his faith and delivering timeless sermons. According to ancient Buddhist texts, Buddhism reached Haryana through the Buddha himself. It is believed that the great master visited at least nine cities of the region Hastinapura, Mahanagara, Srughna, Brahma nagrama, Kalanagara, Rohitaka, Bhadrankara, Thullakottita and Kammasadamma.
The Kuru kingdom is mentioned in the Anguttara Nikaya as among the sixteen- ‘Mahaj Janapadas’- or prominent states of India during Buddha’s times. It was 8,000 yojanas in extent, prosperous with bountiful harvests and abundant foodgrains. Divided into two parts- Uttar Kuru and ‘Dakshina Kuru’- its King Dhananjaya Koravya belonged to the “Yudhitthila Gotra”or the family of Yudhisthira, the eldest of the Pandavas.
The Jatakas are unanimous in their admiration of the Kurus as the most virtuous people of their times, reputed for their wisdom, liberal disposition and sound health. Even from distant lands, learned souls like the Kalinga Brahmans of Kalinga(present-day Orissa) would visit Kurukshetra to learn about the —Kuru dhamma-which was a moral code of conduct unconnected with the then prevalent ideas of heaven and hell or salvation.
In the Kuru land, the Bhikshus (Monks) and upasakas (devotees) conducted themselves in the spirit of Smriti Prasthana”application of awareness. Even domestic servants and labourers assembled at village wells and weaving centres would deliberate upon it and not indulge in idle gossip. The importance of “Kuru dhamma” finds a prominent place in the contents of the Kuru Dhamma Jataka. It is mentioned that abundant rainfall and consequent prosperity returned to the land of Kalinga when its inhabitants and king adopted and practised “Kuru dhamma” as the Kurus did in Kurukshetra. It is not a coincidence that “Kuru dhamma” is similar to the Pancha Sikkhapadas or “Five precepts” taught by the Buddha. It is likely that the Sakyamuni might have harmonised these popular moral precepts of the land of the Kurus with his own five rules of moral conduct.
- Abstaining from killing living beings.
- Abstaining from taking that which is not given.
- Abstaining from misconduct in sexual matters.
- Abstaining from false speech
- Abstaining from the consumption of liquor that caused indolence and intoxication.