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Gautam Buddha - Story of Siddharth

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Gautam Buddha was born as Siddhartha Gautam in India. The name “Siddhartha” means “he who achieves his aim”. His lifetime is placed around 420 BCE- 380BCE or 583 BCE – 463BCE. He founded Buddhism.  He is also known as “Shakyamuni” or the sage of Shakyas. Shakya was an independent kingdom from Iron Age (around 1000 BCE, it followed the Late Harappan Culture). Their Kingdom was in the foothills of Himalayas with the capital at Kapilavastu (located in modern day Nepal). He was born a prince to King Shuddhodana and Queen MahaMaya. As was the custom, when Queen MahaMaya was pregnant, she was on her way to her father’s house for delivery. The party had stopped at the gardens of Lumbini. Queen MahaMaya gave birth to Siddhartha in the gardens of Lumbini.

 

A great sage Asita was passing through the kingdom and predicted that the child would either become a great King (Chakravati) or a holy man (Buddha – the enlightened one). Hearing this Shuddhodana invited 8 brahmins to read the child’s future. All but one gave the same dual prediction. The eighth Brahmin called Kaudinya predicted the child would grow up to be the enlightened one – Buddha. King Shuddhodana wanted Siddhartha to be a Chakravarti, so he made sure the little child led a very sheltered life. He was raised in luxury away from any sufferings and any influence of religious teachings. At the age of 16 he was married to his cousin Yashodara. They had a son Rahula. Siddhartha thus led a princely life for 29 years in Kapilavastu. One day he decided to go and meet his subjects. There for the first time in his life he saw an old man. When Channa his charioteer told him “He is an old man. All of us will one day get old and die. Your father, mother, me, your wife everyone will become old one day.” Then he saw a diseased man, a decaying corpse and an ascetic. Depressed by these sights he decided to overcome death, illness and old age by becoming an ascetic. And one day he ran away from the palace with his charioteer Channa on his horse Kanthaka.

 

Initially he went to Rajagaha or Rajagriha. There he met Bimbisara, the king of Magadh. He promised Bimbisara to visit him once he achieved enlightenment. He tried to follow the path of self mortification in order to attain enlightenment. After nearly starving himself to death but finding no enlightenment, Siddhartha found the Middle Way. He sat under the Bodhi (Pipal) tree in Bodh Gaya and decided not to get up until he found enlightenment. He is said to have attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree on the first full moon in the month of May. That day is celebrated as Buddha Poornima.

 

He founded Buddhism and for the next 45 years preached in the Gangetic Plains (modern day Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and southern Nepal). Eventually, Buddhism spread to China, Japan, Sri Lanka and South East Asia.

 

The main teachings of Buddha begin with the “The four noble truths”.

    1. suffering is an inherent part of existence
    2. the origin of suffering is ignorance
    3. the main symptoms of that ignorance are attachment and craving;
    4. that attachment and craving can be ceased by following the “Noble Eightfold Path”

The Noble Eightfold path is

    1. right understanding,
    2. right thought,
    3. right speech,
    4. right action,
    5. right livelihood,
    6. right effort,
    7. right mindfulness, and
    8. right concentration

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