About the life of Buddha

Buddha, means 'the enlightened one'. And Gautam Buddha was one of the greatest religious teachers that the world has seen. His teachings expounded in Buddhism, are immensely popular in Burma, China, Japan and other South Eastern Countries.

Early Life of Buddha

  • Birth Place of Gautama Buddha in Lumbini, Nepal Life of Gautam Buddha

The Buddha was born in 563 B.C. as Siddhartha to Shuddhodana the king of Kapilavastu in Nepal. His mother Mayadevi expired when he was just 7 days old and he was brought up by his stepmother Gautami. Siddhartha was made to lead a very sheltered life as the astrologers had predicted that he would give up worldly pleasures to follow a different path. The King wanted to avoid this at all costs and so did not let him out of the palace.  He hoped that Siddhartha would one day become king.

King Shuddhodana, Siddhartha’s father was disturbed by the prediction of the learned men. His father Shuddhodana always encouraged his son to follow the path of kingship since his birth. Shuddhodana surrounded his son with pleasures and granted his every wish. Never did Siddhartha see or learn about any kind of suffering or hardship. When he left the palace the king’s guards went ahead of his chariot, clearing the streets of anything unpleasant or disturbing.

A Brahmin priest instructed Siddhartha in the ways of government, preparing him to govern wisely. Siddhartha also learned the arts of war—how to fight with a sword and shoot an arrow from his bow. The young man was strong and healthy, and his physical beauty and lively spirit attracted many friends. All of his companions were children of the officials of the court.

Marriage of Siddhartha and Birth of a son

Siddhartha married Yasodhara when he was to years old. Yasodhara was the daughter of one of the king’s ministers. Their wedding feast lasted for many days, and gifts were distributed to the people of the kingdom to mark the occasion. Within a year Yasodhara bore Siddhartha’s son, named Rahula, which means "fetter" or "impediment."

King Shuddhodana was pleased, for he had provided everything his son would need for happiness in his life and success as a great king. Some years passed, during which time Siddhartha lived in the palace with his wife and son, enjoying all the pleasures of a king.

Life changing experience

  • Birth Place of Gautama Buddha in Lumbini, Nepal Life of Gautam Buddha

When Siddhartha had grown into an intelligent young man, he ventured out of his palace one day, and chanced on a few sights that changed the course of his life. He first saw a very old man who could barely walk, a sick man who was in a great deal of pain, and lastly a corpse. He had never been exposed to pain before, and so these sights had a deep effect on him. His servant explained that pain and death were inevitable.

This made Siddhartha very sad and he started to rethink his life and began to try to fathom the reason of existence. Seeing him so thoughtful, his father decided to get him married and get his mind off such serious topics.  He was married to a beautiful princess called Yashodhara, who soon gave birth to a son who they called Rahul.

Old Age, Sickness and Death

Then, when he was 29 years old, Siddhartha asked his charioteer, Channa, to take him for a ride without the consent of the king. As the prince rode through the city he saw three things that he had never seen before. One was an old man, one was a man suffering from illness, and the third was a corpse surrounded by mourners.

Siddhartha asked Channa to explain the meaning of these strange sights. Channa responded that old age, sickness, and death were natural and unavoidable things that came to all people. They were to be endured.

Shocked, Siddhartha returned to the palace and thought about what he had seen. For the first time he confronted the reality of life: “Everything is transient; nothing is permanent in this world Knowing that, I can fi nd delight in nothing. How can a man, who knows that death is quite inevitable, still feel greed in his heart, enjoy the world of senses and not weep in this great danger?”

Renouncing a life of pleasure

Once more Siddhartha asked Channa to take him into the city. This time he saw the last of the “Four Sights” that changed his life. This was a wandering holy man, an ascetic, with no possessions. The man had shaved his head, wore only a ragged yellow robe, and carried a walking staff. Siddhartha stopped his chariot and questioned the man. The ascetic told the prince, “I am terrified by birth and death and therefore have adopted a homeless life to win salvation. I search for the most blessed state in which suffering, old age, and death are unknown.”

That very night Siddhartha resolved to renounce the life of pleasure in the palace. He silently kissed his sleeping wife Yasodhara and his young son and ordered Channa to drive him out of the city. Legend claims that celestial beings held up the hooves of the horses so that their clatter would not wake the guards. At the edge of a forest Siddhartha took off his jeweled sword, cut off his hair and beard, and discarded his princely garments. He put on the yellow robe of a holy man and told Channa to take his possessions back to his father.

The great retirement

  • Birth Place of Gautama Buddha in Lumbini, Nepal Life of Gautam Buddha

Siddhartha wandered through northeastern India seeking out holy men, who taught him ancient Indian techniques of meditation. However his main quest was to fi nd the answer to the problem of suffering. He wanted to know why people suffered and how this suffering could end.

Siddhartha studied the ancient teachings of India. He was most influenced by the concept of samsara. Samsara is a belief that after death a person’s innermost essence, or soul, transmigrates into a new body—it is born again. Another name for this process is reincarnation. Every action, thought, and deed has an effect in this life and the next life. This is the law of karma. If the quality of one life has been good it will lead to a better rebirth.

A Search for Light

Despite this, Siddhartha found no happiness in materialistic pleasures and so left the palace in search of salvation - ' Moksh'. He was only 29 years old. He roamed the country, meeting various sadhus and saints in his search for inner peace. He lived the life of a hermit and underwent rigorous ' tapasya' to achieve his purpose, but still could not understand the meaning of or reason for life and death.

Finally, one day he reached Bodh Gaya. He was very tired and so sat under the shade of a tree. He shut his eyes and was blessed with a divine light. This was the turning point, as he realized the truth is within every human being. The search outside was pointless. After this he was known as ' Buddha' or the enlightened one.

The Right Path and Immortality

  • Birth Place of Gautama Buddha in Lumbini, Nepal Buddha overcoming a cruel man Angulimal

For 45 years, Buddha spread his message of a spiritual life. He did not believe in rituals but pointed to an 8 - fold path towards salvation - that of right speech, understanding, determination, deeds, efforts, awareness, thinking and living.  According to Buddhism, by following this path one could overcome desires, which were the root cause of grief and misery.

The Buddha died in 483 BC at the ripe age of 80 years, after successfully spreading his message to the world. Buddhism still lives and has a strong following in various Asian countries.