Gautama Buddha



Buddhism is a largely followed religion in Asian continent. Gautama Buddha was the founder of this ancient religion. He was born in Lumbini, in Nepal in 6th century BC. He was the son of the King of Kapilavastu, Suddhodana and his wife Queen Maya.

Gautama Buddha's birth was heralded by several special omens, and he was accordingly named, Siddhartha, which means ‘every wish fulfilled'. At the time of his birth, his father consulted a sage who said that Siddhartha would either become a great king or a great spiritual leader. Seven days after his birth, Siddhartha's mother passed away. His father remarried Gautami. And the boy was hence called Gautama.

Gautama Buddha's father wanted his son to succeed him to the throne, and he therefore did all he could to keep him away from spiritual inclinations. Gautama was brought up amidst the riches and luxuries of the palace. He was married to Princess Yasodhara, and by her, he had a son, Rahula.

The Making of a Buddha

However, his father's efforts could not stop Gautama from treading the spiritual path he was destined for. He slowly discovered the suffering, old age and death that constitutes life, and was very disturbed. He made up his mind to find a way to end it.

One night, Prince Gautama left his wife, son and royal life, and set out in the quest of spirituality.

His first teacher, Alara Kalama, taught him a form of meditation that led to an exalted state of nothingness. However, Gautama realized that this would not solve the problem of suffering.

Next, Udraka Ramaputra taught him meditation that led to a state of neither perception nor non-perception. Gautama still did not find what he was looking for.

He then turned to other ascetic practices. None of these helped and he almost succumbed to starvation. He finally realized that the answer to suffering did not lie in physical degeneration. He gave up extreme asceticism, and sat down under a Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya. He decided not to get up till he had discovered the truth. After days of meditation, Gautama finally received enlightenment. And at the age of 35, he became Gautama Buddha. A Buddha is an ordinary person who has eliminated all negative qualities and developed positive qualities to their height.

Gautama Buddha was also referred to as Shakyamuni Buddha, which means Sage of the Sakya dynasty, and The Enlightened One.

The Teachings of Gautama Buddha

Shakyamuni or Gautama Buddha gave his first discourse in Saranath, near Varanasi in India. He taught the Four Noble Truths: the recognition that this life involves suffering, the cause of that suffering (this he identified as attachment, anger and ignorance), the understanding that suffering can end and Nirvana achieved, and the truth of the eight fold noble path.

Shakyamuni Buddha's 8-fold middle path advises correct thought, correct speech, correct actions, correct livelihood, correct understanding, correct effort, correct mindfulness and correct concentration.

The teachings of Gautama Buddha were passed down through the oral tradition, as the Tripitaka .

After 45 years of teaching, Shakyamuni Buddha entered into a deep trance, from which he never awoke. He dies in the Sala grove in Kushinagara, at the age of 80.

Gautama Buddha's coffin burned with a divine flame from within, for seven days. His ashes were divided into eight parts and sent to different parts of the world. The recipients enshrined them in shrines called stupas .

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