Born: c. 563 BCE or c. 480 BCE – Lumbini, Shakya Republic (according to Buddhist tradition)
Died: c. 483 BCE or c. 400 BCE (aged 80) Kushinagar, Malla Republic (according to Buddhist tradition)
Birth and Early Years
Siddhartha Buddha also known as Gautama Buddha or just Buddha was born a in Lumbini which is the present day Nepal around 563 B.C. His father Suddhodana was king of the Sakhyas. He was brought up by his foster mother, a sister to his mother Maya who had died seven days after his birth. Siddhartha was Gautama’s family name which means one who has accomplished his aim. The Buddha was also known as Sakhya Muni. This name means an ascetic of the Sakhya tribe.
Early Life and Marriage
Buddha by tradition, was destined by birth to live the life of a prince. There were even three palaces (for seasonal occupation) built for him. King Śuddhodana, his father, wishing for his son to be a great king, shielded him from religious teachings and from knowledge of human suffering.
At the age of 16, his father arranged his marriage to a cousin of the same age named Yasodhara. The traditional account, says she gave birth to a son, named Rāhula. Siddhartha is said to have spent 29 years as a prince in Kapilavastu. Although his father ensured he had everything, Buddhist scriptures say that the future Buddha felt that material wealth was not life’s ultimate goal.
At 29 years of age, even though his father did all he could to stop Buddha from seeing the world. Siddhartha went out to meet his subjects.
Buddha knew nothing of the sufferings that took place outside his enclosure throughout the early years of his life.
One day, the Buddha had a desire to see how mankind was living in his town. He was able to get out of his enclosure with Channa, his servant. He came upon a sick man, a corpse, and a decrepit old man. Seeing their mortality, he was shocked! He realized that he would become prey to disease, old age and death too.
Thereafter, he met a monk and was impressed by his serenity and beauty. This marked the turning point of the Buddha. He renounced the material world with its comforts and luxuries, pain and suffering, and took up a monastic life with the realization that worldly happiness is transitory.
His travels and teachings
Gautama Buddha relocated from his home forever, shaved his head and donned yellow robes to take up Yogic practices. Furthermore, he sought instruction from numerous teachers who stayed in caves in the neighborhood.
He practiced simple Pranayama (breath control) and Tapas (austerities) for six months. During this time he became exceedingly week and almost starved to death.
However he realized that starvation didn’t serve his goals as it led to the very conditions he was trying to surmount. At this point he decided to eat food in moderation and give up the extreme life he had been living and took the “middle path.’’
When the Buddha was brought food by a young woman, the Buddha sought a relaxed place to sit and take it. He found a huge tree “the great Bo-tree or Tree of Wisdom’’.
Upon finishing the physical food, the Buddha went into deep meditation and came out victorious having attained Nirvana (Completion of the path of Buddhism where a person achieves self-enlightenment with the permanent end to all delusion and anguish).
He relocated from his wondrous tree and ventured out into the world at age 35. He influenced others to seek wisdom and enlightenment and his subsequent teachings are the basis of Buddhism. He died at age 80 in 483 B.C.
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