A boy born into a royal family kept untouched by the miseries of the world by his family. Born in Lumbini to Shuddhodhan and Maha Maya the head of Shakya dynasty in Kapilvastu called Siddharth or Gautam was brought up by his mother’s sister, Maha Prajapati Gautami after his mother’s demise in an early stage. At the age of 16, Siddharth married Yasodhara and they had a child named Rahul.
Siddharth spent 29 years as a prince. His father provided him with everything he could need or want but sooner Siddharth realized that material wealth is not life’s ultimate goal.
Despite his father’s effort to hide all the sufferings from him. While he was on a visit to his area he saw an old man, a decaying corpse, and an ascetic. He got depressed by seeing them and decided to live life as a saint to find a permanent solution for the people in vain. He left his palace and went to Rajagriha and began his ascetic life by begging for alms in the streets. He learned yoga from Udraka Ramputra and achieved high levels of meditative consciousness.
After realizing that dhyana is the right path to spiritual awakening he practiced the noble eightfold path, described in his first discourse called Dharmachakkra Pravartana sutta. In a famous incident, after becoming starved and weakened, he accepted milk and rice pudding from a girl named Sujata. After that Gautam decided to sit under a pipal tree- now known as bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya. He vowed to never arise until he had found the truth. At the age of 35, he attained enlightenment and became Buddha which means Awakened one.
After attaining Enlightenment, he was known as Buddha and attained liberation from samsara, the endless cycle of rebirth, suffering and dying again. He then gave his first sermon known as the Wheel of Dharma to five people and together they all formed the first sangha called the company of Buddhist monks. After that, the Sangha swelled to more than 1000 people and the numbers are increasing till date.
Buddha said to have traveled in the Gangetic plains in the remaining 45 years of his life and taught many peoples like murderer Angulimaal and the cannibals such as Alavaka. At the age of 80, Buddha announced Parinirwana which means the final stage of leaving the earthly body. It is also called Mahaparinirvana.
After his death, his teachings were spread all around the world. The following teachings of Buddha became the basis of Buddhism i.e.
- The four noble Truth that suffering is part of existence.
- the origin of suffering is craving for sensuality, acquisition of identity, and fear of annihilation.
- Suffering can be ended.
- The Noble eightfold is the path to accomplish this.
The noble eightfold path is
- Right view
- Right Intention
- Right speech
- Right action
- Right livelihood
- Right effort
- Right mindfulness
- Right Concentration
Buddha’s is regarded as the 9th avatar in Hinduism. He is revered as a teacher in Buddhism, not a god. His teachings are still guiding people towards spirituality and peace of mind. Centuries later Buddha’s cremation relics were enshrined by king Ashoka the great into 84000 stupas. Ashoka later spread Buddhism by sending his daughter Sanghmitra and son Mahendra to Sri Lanka and other regions.