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Sri Gautama Buddha (566 BC to 486 BC)

Lord Buddha
Sri Gautama Buddha

Buddha (Siddhartha) was born in a royal family in Lumbini garden:

Buddha was born in a royal family. His father Suddhodana was a king of the Shakyas ruling at Kapilavastu on the Nepalese frontier. To give birth to Buddha, queen Mahamaya, the mother of Buddha while travelling to her parental home at Devadaha, gave birth to Buddha on the way at Lumbini garden which is halfway between the two cities and around 100 miles north of Varanasi. The child was named Siddhartha.

Wise men predicted that Siddhartha will either be a Supreme Monarch or a Supreme Enlightened One:

After the birth of Siddhartha, king Suddhodana summoned wise men to know about the future of his son. They said that Siddhartha will either become a Supreme Monarch, should he deign to rule, or a Supreme Enlightened One, should he renounce the world.

Siddhartha was married and kept in surroundings of luxury and comfort where misery was unknown:

Siddhartha's mother Mahamaya passed away on the seventh day after the birth of the child. The child was taken care of by his mother's sister. Father Suddhodana wanted Siddhartha to be a great king. Siddhartha was married to Yasodhara, the princess of Koliyas. Suddhodana provided Siddhartha with the greatest comforts and luxuries and kept him in such heavenly surroundings where sorrows and miseries were unknown.

By Divine providence Siddhartha suddenly came face to face with the harsh realities of life: Old Age, Disease and Death:

Sorrow was unknown within the royal palace where Siddhartha lived. But Divine providence suddenly brought Siddhartha face to face with the harsh realities of life. One day Siddhartha went to the royal gardens on his chariot with charioteer Channa. There he saw an old man weakened with age on the last stage of ageing. This was the first shock he received. Next he saw a diseased man, forlorn, and smitten with pest. Then he saw a dead man being carried over for cremation followed by lamenting kinsmen. These visions brought Siddhartha face to face with the harsh realities of life. The agony of ailing humanity found an echo in his heart throb.

Siddhartha saw a recluse seeking the truth of life by living a life of purity. Thoughts of renunciation flashed in his mind:

Next Siddhartha saw a recluse, calm and serene seeking the truth of life and living a life of purity. Seeing this, thoughts of renunciation flashed in the mind of Siddhartha. His mind turned inwards in deep contemplation.

News came that a son has been born to Yasodhara. But Siddhartha considered it as a fetter upon him:

Very soon while reaching the palace a messenger gives him the news that a son has been born to Yasodhara. But seeing the harsh realities of life and inwardly contemplating to renounce the world, Siddhartha uttered "A fetter is set upon me".

Siddhartha renounced the world filled with compassion for the whole humanity. The quest for Truth started:

Seeing the sorrows and miseries of life, a deep compassion roused in the heart of Siddhartha; to seek the Truth of life and help humanity go beyond the sorrows and miseries. Thus at the age of twenty-nine, on the day his son Rahula was born, Siddhartha quietly renounced the world in the silence of the full-moon night.

Siddhartha first sought the guidance of saints Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta:

Siddhartha first sought the guidance of the saints Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, and practised meditation. But he was not satisfied with his meditative attainments knowing deep within that this is not the final Truth. Thus paying obeisance to his teachers, Siddhartha left for his quest of the Supreme Truth.

Siddhartha came to Gaya and started rigourous penance and self-mortification:

Leaving his first teachers Siddhartha reached Uruvela by the river Neranjara at Gaya. The place was soothing and Siddhartha decided to stay there and continue his spiritual quest. Soon five other ascetics joined him. They were Kondanna, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahanama and Assaji. Here Siddhartha started intense penance and self-mortification in the hope of liberating the mind from the shackles of the body. The struggle continued for six long years and he became extremely weak and emaciated.

Siddhartha realized the futility of self-mortification:

After six long years of struggle Siddhartha realized that self-mortification cannot lead one to Truth. Intuitively knowing that the Supreme Truth can be found by searching inwards he realized that self-mortification makes the body and mind so weak that inward search become impossible.

Siddhartha abandoned self-mortification and started his search once more in complete solitude:

Realizing the futility of self-mortification, Siddhartha abandoned his fasts and gradually recovered his health. His five ascetic companions thinking that he has taken to a life of abundance left him. All alone Siddhartha started his search in complete solitude.

Siddhartha sat under the Bodhi Tree, determined either to be Enlightened or give up the body:

When his spiritual pursuit reached the peak, one day Siddhartha sat under the Bodhi Tree (a banyan tree) for meditation. Sujata, the daughter of a rich householder offered him milk-rice and wished him success. Sitting cross-legged under the Bodhi Tree, Siddhartha made up his mind not to leave the seat till he is enlightened.

Siddhartha was Enlightened. Became The Buddha, the Enlightened One:

Sitting cross-legged under the Bodhi Tree, Siddhartha turned his mind inwards and reached the various stages of meditative absorption. Cutting through all the appearances he finally came face-to-face with the Supreme Truth. Thus Siddhartha was enlightened at the age of thirty-five and became The Buddha, the Enlightened One. The banyan tree under which he meditated came to be known as the Bodhi Tree. The place came to be known as Buddha Gaya.

Buddha gave his First Sermon in the Deer Park at Varanasi:

After enlightenment, Buddha realized that the Supreme Truth is too subtle and hard to be understood by common man steeped in sense pleasure. He pondered within himself about whom he should teach the Dharma first. His first teachers Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta had passed away by then. He decided to go to Varanasi and teach the Truth first to his five ascetic companions who had abandoned him earlier. Walking around 150 miles, he reached Varanasi. His earlier companions at first doubted him. But seeing his serene appearance and hearing his wise words they agreed to listen to him. Thus Buddha gave his First Sermon at the Deer Park of Varanasi. In the First Sermon Buddha explained to them the Middle Path, the Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths.

The Middle Path, The Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths:

Buddha explained that an aspirant should not follow the two extremes. The first extreme is sense indulgence and the second extreme is self-mortification. Leaving these two extremes, one should follow the Middle Path which leads to calmness and knowledge.

Buddha explained that the Middle Path consists of the Eightfold Path: right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.

Then Buddha explained the Four Noble Truths: the truth of suffering, the truth of the arising of suffering, the truth of the cessation of suffering and truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering.

Buddha set in motion the wheel of the Dharma:

Explaining the Supreme Truth to the ascetic companions, Buddha asked them to spread the Dharma to others out of compassion and thinking of the welfare of the many. Thus was set in motion the wheel of the Dharma. Buddha spread his message for forty-five years. With his disciples he walked all over India enfolding all within the aura of his boundless compassion and wisdom.

Buddha passed away in Kushinagar. Thus was laid the foundation of Buddhism:

Spreading his message for forty-five years and setting in motion the wheel of Dharma, Buddha passed away at the age of eighty at Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh.

The Order of Monks which started with sixty bhikkus soon expanded into thousands and many monastories came up. In later times monastic Indian universities like Nalanda, Vikramsila, Jagaddala etc became well-known cultural centres. Thus was laid the foundation of Buddhism.

Buddhanet and other sources

Meditations on Earth, Life and Dharma: >>

Om, May there be Peace in Heaven,
May there be Peace in the Sky,
May there be Peace in the Earth,

(Shanti Mantra of Upanishad)

Preserve Nature,
And Nature will preserve Us,
Simplify Life,
And help Nature thrive,
Plant Trees,
And make our planet Green.

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Green Message: The Evergreen Messages of Spirituality, Sanskrit and Nature

Last updated on Mar-2024

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