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Buddhism (n.) The religion based upon the doctrine originally taught by the Hindoo sage Gautama Siddartha, surnamed Buddha, ''the awakened or enlightened,'' in the sixth century b. c., and adopted as a religion by the greater part of the inhabitants of Central and Eastern Asia and the Indian Islands. Buddha's teaching is believed to have been atheistic; yet it was characterized by elevated humanity and morality. It presents release from existence (a beatific enfranchisement, Nirvana) as the greatest good. Buddhists believe in transmigration of souls through all phases and forms of life. Their number was estimated in 1881 at 470,000,000.