word is a title, not a name. Buddha is derived from the Sanskrit:
"Budh", to know. means "one who is awake"
in the sense of having "woken up to reality." This
title "Buddha" was first given to a man named Siddartha
Gautama, who lived 2,500 years ago in Nepal. On the full moon
day of May, in the year 623 B.C., a noble prince destined to
be the greatest religious teacher of the world was born in the
BIRTH ::: Siddartha
Gautama Buddha was son of the Rajah (ruler) of the Sakya tribe
of Kapilavastu, Nepal. Buddha father was King Suddhodana of
the aristocratic Sakya clan and his mother was Queen Maha Maya.
The beloved queen died seven days after his birth. Her younger
sister, Maha Pajapati Gotami, who was also married to the King,
adopted the child while entrusting her own son, Nanda, to the
care of the nurses.
were the rejoicings of the people over the birth of this illustrious
prince (buddha). An ascetic of high spiritual attainments, named
Asita (also known as Kaladevala), was particularly pleased to
hear this happy news. Being a tutor of the King, he visited
the palace to see the Royal baby. The King, who felt honoured
by his unexpected visit, carried the child up to him in order
to make the child pay him due reverence. To the surprise of
all, the child's legs turned and rested on the matted locks
of the ascetic. Instantly, the ascetic rose from his seat and,
foreseeing with his supernormal vision the child's future greatness,
saluted him with clasped hands. The Royal father did likewise.
great ascetic smiled at first and then was sad. Questioned regarding
his mingled feelings, he answered that he smiled because the prince
would eventually become a Buddha, an Enlightened One, and he was
sad because he would not be able to benefit from the superior
wisdom of the Enlightened One owing to his prior death and rebirth
in a Formless Plane (Arupaloka).
NAMING CEREMONY :::
On the fifth day after the prince's (buddha) birth he was named
Siddhattha which means "wish fulfilled". Buddha family
name was Gotama. In accordance with the ancient Nepali custom,
many learned brahmins were invited to the palace for the naming
ceremony. Amongst them there were eight distinguished men. Examining
the characteristic marks of the child, seven of them raised
two fingers each, indicative of two alternative possibilities,
that he would either become a Universal Monarch or a Buddha.
But the youngest, Kondanna, who excelled others in wisdom, noticing
the hair on the forehead turned to the right, raised only one
finger and convincingly declared that the prince would definitely
retire from the world and become a Buddha.
EDUCATION ::: As
a Royal child, Prince Siddhartha (buddha) must have received
a royal education, although no details are given about it. As
a scion of the warrior race he also received special training
in the art of warfare.
MARRIED LIFE :::
At the early age of sixteen, Buddha married his beautiful cousin
of equal age, Princess Yasodhara. For nearly thirteen years,
after his happy marriage, Buddha led a luxurious life, blissfully
ignorant of the vicissitudes of life outside the palace gates.
Of his luxurious life as prince, Buddha states:
was delicate, excessively delicate. In my father's dwelling
three lotus-ponds were made purposely for me. Blue lotuses bloomed
in one, red in another, and white in another. I used no sandal-wood
that was not of Kasi. My turban, tunic, dress and cloak, were
all from Kasi."
and day a white parasol was held over me so that I might not
be touched by heat or cold, dust, leaves or dew."
were three palaces built for me -- one for the cold season,
one for the hot season, and one for the rainy season. During
the four rainy months, I lived in the palace for the rainy season
without ever coming down from it, entertained all the while
by female musicians. Just as, in the houses of others, food
from the husks of rice together with sour gruel is given to
the slaves and workmen, even so, in my father's dwelling food
with rice and meat was given to the slaves and workmen."
the march of time, truth gradually dawned upon him. Siddhartha
Gautama Buddha contemplative nature and boundless compassion
did not permit him to spend his time in the mere enjoyment of
the fleeting pleasures of the Royal palace. Buddha knew no personal
grief but Buddha felt a deep pity for suffering humanity. Amidst
comfort and prosperity, Buddha realized the universality of
RENUNCIATION ::: One
glorious day as buddha went out of the palace to the pleasure
park to see the world outside, Buddha came in direct contact
with the stark realities of life. Within the narrow confines
of the palace he saw only the rosy side of life, but the dark
side, the common lot of mankind, was purposely veiled from him.
What was previously conceived only mentally, he now saw in vivid
reality for the first time. On his way to the park his observant
eyes met the strange sights of a decrepit old man, a diseased
person, a corpse and a dignified hermit. The first three sights
convincingly proved to him, the inexorable nature of life, and
the universal ailment of humanity. The fourth signified the
means to overcome the ills of life and to attain calm and peace.
These four unexpected sights served to increase the urge in
him to loathe and renounce the world.
Realizing the worthlessness of sensual pleasures, so highly prized
by the worldling, and appreciating the value of renunciation in
which the wise seek delight, Buddha decided to leave the world
in search of Truth and Eternal Peace.
this final decision was taken after much deliberation, the news
of the birth of a son was conveyed to him while buddha was about
to leave the park. Contrary to expectations, buddha was not overjoyed,
but regarded his first and only offspring as an impediment. An
ordinary father would have welcomed the joyful tidings, but Prince
Siddhattha, the extraordinary father as he was, exclaimed -- "An
impediment (rahu) has been born; a fetter has arisen". The
infant son was accordingly named Rahula by his grandfather.
palace was no longer a congenial place to the contemplative
Prince Siddhattha Gautama Buddha. Neither his charming young
wife nor his lovable infant son could deter him from altering
the decision he had taken to renounce the world. He was destined
to play an infinitely more important and beneficial role than
a dutiful husband and father, or even as a king of kings. The
allurements of the palace were no more cherished objects of
delight to him. Time was ripe to depart.
ordered his favourite charioteer Channa to saddle the horse Kanthaka,
and went to the suite of apartments occupied by the princess.
Opening the door of the chamber, Buddha stood on the threshold
and cast his dispassionate glance on the wife and child who were
fast asleep. Great was his compassion for the two dear ones at
this parting moment. Greater was his compassion for suffering
humanity. He was not worried about the future worldly happiness
and comfort of the mother and child as they had everything in
abundance and were well protected. It was not that he loved them
the less, but that he loved humanity more.
all behind, he stole away with a light heart from the palace at
midnight, and rode into the dark, attended only by his loyal charioteer.
Alone and penniless he set out in search of Truth and Peace. Thus
did he renounce the world. It was not the renunciation of an old
man who has had his fill of worldly life. It was not the renunciation
of a poor man who had nothing to leave behind. It was the renunciation
of a prince in the full bloom of youth and in the plenitude of
wealth and prosperity -- a renunciation unparalleled in history.
was in his twenty-ninth year that Prince Siddhattha Gautama
Buddha made this historic journey.
journeyed far and, crossing the river Anoma, rested on its banks.
Here Buddha shaved his hair and beard and handing over his garments
and ornaments to Channa with instructions to return to the palace,
assumed the simple yellow garb of an ascetic and led a life of
ascetic Siddhattha, who once lived in the lap of luxury, now became
a penniless wanderer, living on what little the charitably-minded
gave of their own accord.
had no permanent abode. A shady tree or a lonely cave sheltered
him by day or night. Bare-footed and bare-headed, Buddha walked
in the scorching sun and in the piercing cold. With no possessions
to call his own, but a bowl to collect his food and robes just
sufficient to cover the body, he concentrated all his energies
on the quest of Truth.
SEARCH FOR TRUTH :::
Thus as a wanderer, a seeker after what is good, searching for
the unsurpassed Peace, Buddha approached Alara Kalama, a distinguished
ascetic, and said: "I desire, friend Kalama to lead the
Holy Life in this Dispensation of yours." Thereupon Alara
Kalama told him: "You may stay with me, O Venerable One.
Of such sort is this teaching that an intelligent man before
long may realize by his own intuitive wisdom his master's doctrine,
and abide in the attainment thereof."
Before long, he learnt his doctrine, but it brought him no realization
of the highest Truth.
there came to him the thought: When Alara Kalama declared: "Having
myself realized by intuitive knowledge the doctrine, I -- 'abide
in the attainment thereof --, it could not have been a mere profession
of faith; surely Alara Kalama lives having understood and perceived
he went to him and said "How far, friend Kalama, does this
doctrine extend which you yourself have with intuitive wisdom
realized and attained?"
this Alara Kalama made known to him the Realm of Nothingness (Akincannayatana),
an advanced stage of Concentration.
it occurred to him: "Not only in Alara Kalama are to be found
faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. I too possess
these virtues. How now if I strive to realize that doctrine whereof
Alara Kalama says that he himself has realized and abides in the
before long, he realized by his own intuitive wisdom that doctrine
and attained to that state, but it brought him no realization
of the highest Truth. Then he approached Alara Kalama and said;
"Is this the full extent, friend Kalama, of this doctrine
of which you say that you yourself have realized by your wisdom
and abide in the attainment thereof?
I also, friend, have realized thus far in this doctrine, and abide
in the attainment thereof."
unenvious teacher was delighted to hear of the success of his
distinguished pupil. He honoured him by placing him on a perfect
level with himself and admiringly said:
friend, are we, extremely happy; in that we look upon such a venerable
fellow-ascetic like you! That same doctrine which I have realized
by my wisdom and proclaim, having attained thereunto, you have
realized by your wisdom and abide in the attainment thereof; .....
Thus the doctrine which I know, you know too; ..... As I am, so
are you; as you are, so am I. Come, friend, let both of us lead
the company of ascetics."
ascetic Gotama was not satisfied with a discipline and a doctrine
which only led to a high degree of mental concentration, but did
not lead to "disgust, detachment, cessation (of suffering),
tranquillity; intuition, enlightenment, and Nibbana." Nor
was he anxious to lead a company of ascetics even with the co-operation
of another generous teacher of equal spiritual attainment, without
first perfecting himself. It was, he felt, a case of the blind
leading the blind. Dissatisfied with his teaching, he politely
took his leave from him.
those happy days when there were no political disturbances, the
intellectuals of India were preoccupied with the study and exposition
of some religious system or other. All facilities were provided
for those more spiritually inclined to lead holy lives in solitude
in accordance with their temperaments, hence most of these teachers
had large followings of disciples. It was not difficult for the
ascetic Gotama to find another religious teacher who was more
competent than the former.
this occasion he approached one Uddaha Ramaputta and expressed
his desire to lead the Holy Life in his Dispensation. He was readily
admitted as a pupil.
long the intelligent ascetic Gotama, mastered his doctrine and
attained the final stage of mental concentration, the Realm of
Neither Perception nor Non-Perception (N'eva Sanna N'asannayatana),
revealed by his teacher. This was the highest stage in worldly
concentration when consciousness becomes so subtle and refined
that it cannot be said that a consciousness either exists or not.
Ancient Indian sages could not proceed further in spiritual development.
noble teacher was delighted to hear of the success of his illustrious
royal pupil. Unlike his former teacher the present one honoured
him by inviting him to take full charge of all the disciples as
their teacher. He said: "Happy friend, are we; yea, extremely
happy, in that we see such a venerable fellow-ascetic as you.
The doctrine which Rama knew, you know; the doctrine which you
know, Rama knew. As was Rama so are you; as you are, so was Rama.
Come, friend, henceforth you shall lead this company of ascetics."
he felt that his quest of the highest Truth was not achieved.
He had gained complete mastery of his mind, but his ultimate goal
was far ahead. He was seeking for the Highest, the Nibbana, the
complete cessation of suffering, the total eradication of all
forms of craving. "Dissatisfied with this doctrine too, he
departed thence, content therewith no longer."
realized that his spiritual aspirations were far higher than
those under whom he chose to learn. Buddha realized that there
was none capable enough to teach him what he yearned for --
the highest Truth. Buddha also realized that the highest Truth
is to be found within oneself and ceased to seek external aid.
According to Buddhist tradition, Buddha sat through the night
until a glimpse of the morning star suddenly provoked a state
of perfect clarity and understanding. Buddha experienced unexcelled,
complete, awakening. For the next 40 years he taught the principles
of his teaching, gaining many disciples and followers. Buddha
died at the age of about 80 in Kusinagara, Oudh.
teaching is summarized in the Four Noble Truths, the last of which
affirms the existence of a path leading to deliverance from the
universal human experience of suffering. The goal is Nirvana,
which means "the blowing out" of the fires of all desires,
and the absorption of the self into the infinite.
not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not
believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many
generations. Do not believe anything because it is spoken and
rumored by many. Do not believe in anything because it is written
in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on
the authority of your teachers and elders. But after observation
and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and
is conducive to the good and the benefit of one and all, then
accept it and live up to it.
following prose, attributed to Buddha, is a poetic expression
of the way he saw the world.
consider the positions of kings and rulers as that of dust motes.
observe treasures of gold and gems as so many bricks and pebbles.
look upon the finest silken robes as tattered rags.
see myriad worlds of the universe as small seeds of fruit, and
the greatest lake in India as a drop of oil upon my foot.
perceive the teachings of the world as the illusions of magicians.
discern the highest conception of emancipation as a golden brocade
in a dream, and view the holy path of the illuminated ones as
flowers appearing in one's eyes.
see meditation as a pillar of a mountain, nirvana as a nightmare
look upon the judgments of right and wrong as the serpentine
dance of a dragon, and the rise and fall of belief as traces
left by the four seasons.