The Story of Gautam Buddha
Gautam Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha around 566 BC to the King and Queen of Kapilavastu, Shuddhodana and Mayadevi. Soon after his birth an astrologer predicted that Prince Siddhartha was destined to lead the life of a sage and that he would give up his right to the throne and all worldly pleasures.
Shuddhodana and Mayadevi were shattered upon hearing the news and decided to prevent him from being exposed to the outside world, keeping a close watch on him.
A young Siddhartha never left the palace and saw nothing more than the luxuries of it. His parents hoped that he would get used to the luxurious lifestyle and never give it up.
At the age of 16, his parents got him married to Yashodhara who was a beautiful daughter of a nobleman, The King had hoped that this would be another reason for Siddhartha to not leave the palace.
However, as Siddhartha grew older he became more and more curious. On one particular day, he asked his charioteer to take him on a tour of the city. The first person they came across was a old man, weak and frail by the side of the road. Siddhartha was intrigued by him and was made to understand that with old age comes weakness and ill health.
The next person he came across was a sick man in great pain. Siddhartha was told that the man was not immune of diseases. He then saw the body of a dead person being carried to the cremation ground. The young Prince was told that everybody would die one day and leave the world. At the end of his city tour, Siddhartha came across a sage who was calm and serene. He was told that such men give up their worldly possession and desires.
Siddhartha was deeply troubled by his first experience of the outside world. Several questions crossed his mind about life and death. He then decided that to get answers to his questions, he would have to leave the palace and give up on his luxurious life. At the age of 29, Siddhartha left the palace at night while his wife and son were asleep. He wandered far and wide, trying different ways to find the path of truth. Then finally he reached the city of Bodhgaya and started meditating under a large fig tree.
After 49 days of meditation, at the age of 35, Siddhartha attained enlightenment. From that day on he was known as Buddha or the ‘Awakened One.’ He was named after the Bodhi tree under which he meditated.
Gautam Buddha shared his knowledge with five sanyansis who meditated with him. Together, they traveled across the country teaching key principles of Buddhism.
These principles were called the Noble Truths, which were: The world is full of suffering and misery. Desire is the cause for all suffering and misery. Suffering and misery can be abolished by removing desire. Desire can be overcome by following the Eight Fold Path.
The Eight Fold Path included: Right Views, Right Thoughts, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Efforts, Right Mindfulness and Right Meditation.
Buddha preached non-violence, peace and harmony. He strongly felt that people should treat one another with compassion, forgiveness and tolerance. He encouraged his followers to follow a balanced life. Buddha had a number of followers in Magadha, Kosala and other neighboring areas. He was always dressed in saffron robes and would take only his begging bowl when he traveled.
Several monuments have been built in India which were built as tributes to Buddhism- The world renowned Ajantha and Ellora caves, Kanheri and Karla caves, as well as temples and universities at Sanchi, Amaravati and other places.
Gautam Buddha passed away in 483 BC. Though he lived centuries ago, his birthday is still celebrated as Buddha Jayanti in India. The Bodhi tree is still worshipped as a symbol of Enlightenment even today.