Siddhartha Gautam

 

 

Siddhartha Gautam is more familiar with us as Buddha or Gautam Buddha. Siddhartha Gautam was name of Buddha till he attained “bodhi” or enlightenment under a peepal tree (Ficus religiosa). Gautam Buddha was the man behind the religion Buddhism. He was the spiritual leader born in ancient Nepal in Lumbini as a son of chief of Shakya clan Shudodhan and queen Maya of Koliya clan. When Siddhartha was born, the astrologers had made the prediction that he would either be a great king or great saint. With the objective of making him a great king only, his father brought him up in extreme luxury and great comforts. He kept the prince Siddhartha away from agony, grief, sorrow, disease and all similar things that could drag him towards the truth of life that’s sorrow. But he was destined to become far greater being than a great king.

During one of his excursions outside the palace, prince Siddhartha saw four things that changed his life completely. He saw a sick man, a dead body, an old man and an ascetic. These four sights shocked Siddhartha and compelled him to think about the reality of life. He became involved in search of truth thereafter. When he realized that while living in a palace and all sorts of comforts he would not be able know the truth, he decided to leave the palace. Thus at the age of 29 he left the palace and moved to the world of reality in search of truth. In Buddhist philosophy this incidence is called “Mahabhinishkraman”.

First he tried to practice the method of hard penance along with five other ascetics. But he was not satisfied with its results, he tried other existing methods but could not get satisfied yet with this. He had come to realize that starvation and denying the body leads to yet more pain and suffering rather than resolving it. These episodes however hardened his resolve and he was more determined to know the truth of life and death.

Later, at Sarnath near Varanasi on the bank of river Niranjana, Sidhartha sat in the eternal sadhana (meditation), not to rise until the experience of truth under a peepal tree. Finally after the hard concentrated meditation on he dawn of Baisakh Poornima, the day of full moon, Sidhartha accomplished the “enlightenment” or “samma sambodhi”. His companion ascetics became his first disciples and the first sermon which he gave them in Sarnath is known in Buddhist traditions as “dhammachakkapravartina”. After getting enlightenment Sidddartha was known as Buddha or the one who is awake or one who knows everything. The tree sitting under which he experienced the sambodhi is know as “bodhi tree”.

Then Buddha traveled far across the country to teach people the Four Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Paths. These two principles are the essence of Buddhist teachings.


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