Prince Siddhartha: The Story of Buddha

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Opinions differ as to the dates of Siddhartha Gautama's life. Historians have dated his birth and death as circa BCE but more recent research suggests that he lived later than this, from around BCE until circa BCE. He was born into a royal family in the village of Lumbini in present-day Nepal, and his privileged life insulated him from the sufferings of life; sufferings such as sickness, age and death.

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One day, after growing up, marrying and having a child, Siddhartha went outside the royal enclosure where he lived. When he went outside he saw, each for the first time, an old man, a sick man, and a corpse. This greatly disturbed him, and he learned that sickness, age, and death were the inevitable fate of human beings - a fate no-one could avoid.

Siddhartha had also seen a monk, and he decided this was a sign that he should leave his protected royal life and live as a homeless holy man. Siddhartha's travels showed him much more of the the suffering of the world. He searched for a way to escape the inevitability of death, old age and pain first by studying with religious men. This didn't provide him with an answer. Siddhartha encountered an Indian ascetic who encouraged him to follow a life of extreme self-denial and discipline.

The Buddha also practised meditation but concluded that in themselves, the highest meditative states were not enough. Siddhartha followed this life of extreme asceticism for six years, but this did not satisfy him either; he still had not escaped from the world of suffering. He abandoned the strict lifestyle of self-denial and ascetism, but did not return to the pampered luxury of his early life.

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Buddha’s enlightenment

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Thank you for signing up, fellow book lover! Both of them believed that knowledge and meditation were the true means of salvation. Also, they both strived to attain a state of human perfection and their approach was purely agnostic. However, the parallels go no further. Kapila organized his views in a system of philosophy that has not a hint of sympathy for mankind in general.

A Prince Renounces Pleasure and Founds Buddhism

The Buddha, on the other hand, delivered his message with a living, all-embracing sympathy and a deep concern for the poor and the oppressed. He preached in favour of the equality of men which was largely forgotten in the Indian society during his time and opposed inequalities and abuses of the caste system. Reliable factual data on the life of Siddhartha Gautama is very scarce. His historical biography can be, to some extent, pieced together by comparing early Buddhist texts from different traditions.

These accounts are filled with myth and legendary stories that slowly but surely changed the initial attributes of the biography of the Buddha.

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Prince Siddhartha

The final form of these texts were written down many centuries after the death of the Buddha. The true words and accounts of the Buddha were merged with legendary additions from oral traditions. Moreover, it seems obvious that the editors of the final versions of the many biographies of the Buddha made their own additions and shaped the contents of the texts according to their own interests in order to support their own philosophical and religious ideas.

Buddhist literature uses the term Bodhisattva someone who is on the way to obtaining enlightenment to refer to Siddhartha before he attained enlightenment, and the word Buddha is used to refer to Siddhartha from the time of his enlightenment. There is no agreement on when Siddhartha was born. This is still a question mark both in scholarship and Buddhist tradition.

Several dates have been proposed, but the many contradictions and inaccuracies in the different chronologies and dating systems make it impossible to come up with a satisfactory answer free of controversy. Both scholars and Buddhist tradition agree that the Buddha lived for 80 years.

More exactness on this matter seems impossible. He belonged to the Sahkya clan and was born in the Gautama family. His father was named Suddhodana and his mother, Maya.

Traveling Thailand: How I became a Disciple of Buddha

There is some controversy surrounding the background of the Shakyas. All we know about the Shakyas is through Buddhist sources, and the historical facts in it have been clouded by many additions and editions over the centuries. Some accounts say that the Shakya princes were exiled from a previous state identified as the kingdom of Ayodhya according to some accounts and they moved on and found the state of Shakya.

Almost certainly, the family of Siddharhta was one of the leading families within this political system. It is probable that Suddhodana also had some concubines. It is believed that Siddhartha was born in Lumbini , present day Nepal, not far from Kapilavastu. Lumbini has been identified thanks to the Indian Emperor Ashoka, who visited the area in BCE and erected a pillar with an inscription commemorating the birth of Siddhartha.

He also built a wall around the village and ordered the building of four stupas to mark the spot. It is not absolutely certain that Siddhartha was actually born in Lumbini, but at least we know for certain that this was widely believed by the Buddhist community at the time of Ashoka and even earlier. Maya died soon after Siddhartha was born, perhaps within days; the child was raised by Mahaprajapati. All accounts stress the extreme luxuries that surrounded Siddhartha while living in Kapilavastu. The realization that he, like anyone else, could be subject to different forms of human suffering disease, old age, and death drove Siddhartha into a personal crisis.

By the time he was 29, he abandoned his home and began to live as a homeless ascetic. After leaving Kapilavastu, Siddhartha practised the yoga discipline under the direction of two of the leading masters of that time: Arada Kalama and Udraka Ramaputra. Siddhartha did not get the results he expected, so he left the masters, engaged in extreme asceticism, and he was joined by five followers.

For a period of six years Siddhartha tried to attain his goal but was unsuccessful.

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After realizing that asceticism was not the way to attain the results he was looking for, he gave up this way of life. After eating a meal and taking a bath, Siddhartha sat down under a tree of the species ficus religiosa , where he finally attained Nirvana perfect enlightenment and became known as the Buddha. Soon after this, the Buddha delivered his first sermon in a place named Sarnath, also known as the deer park, near the city of Varanasi.

The Buddha explained the middle way between asceticism and a life of luxury, the four noble truths suffering, its origin, how to end it, and the eightfold path or the path leading to the extinction of suffering , and the impersonality of all beings.

Gautama Buddha - Wikipedia

Sariputra and Mahamaudgalyayana were the two chief disciples of the Buddha. Mahakasyapa was also an important disciple who became the convener of the First Buddhist Council. From Kapilavastu and Sravasti in the north, to Varanasi, Nalanda and many other areas in the Ganges basin, the Buddha preached his vision for about 45 years.

During his career he visited his hometown, met his father, his foster mother and even his son, who joined the Sangha along with other members of the Shakya clan. Upali, another disciple of the Buddha, joined the Sangha around this time: he was a Shakya and regarded as the most competent monk in matters of monastic discipline. Ananda, a cousin of the Buddha, also became a monk; he accompanied the Buddha during the last stage of his life and persuaded him to admit women into the Sangha, thus establishing the Bhikkhuni Sangha , the female Buddhist monastic community.

During his career, some kings and other rulers are described as followers of the Buddha. The last days of the Buddha are described in detail in an ancient text named Mahaparinirvana Sutra. We are told that the Buddha visited Vaishali, where he fell ill and nearly died. Some accounts say that here the Buddha delivered his last sermon.

The Life of the Buddha

After recovering, the Buddha travelled to Kushinagar. On his way, he accepted a meal from a smith named Cunda, which made him sick and led to his death. Once he reached Kushinagar, he encouraged his disciples to continue their activity one last time and he finally passed away. The original biography of the Buddha has been merged with many legendary accounts and myths.