The Life of Buddha

Historically, Buddha lived from 536 to 483 B. C. He was born to the rulers of the Shakya clan and legend has it that both his conception and his birth were miraculous. It is believed that his mother conceived him in a dream in which she dreamt of a white elephant entering her right side and that she gave birth to him in a garden while holding on to a tree and in a standing position. Some few traditional events or what seemed to add to his mystery then took place after his birth such as the believe that he emerged from the Maya’s right side fully formed and that he proceeded to take seven steps. http://www. souledout. org/wesak/storybuddha. html) It is recorded that he was predicted, by an astrologer, of either becoming a great king or a great religious leader and thus he was given the name ‘Siddhartha’ meaning he who achieves his goal. It was not the desire of his father to lose his son to the religious calling thus he protected him much from the realities of life, shielding him from the real events of life.

Consequently, the ravages of poverty, old age and even disease attack became a matter of no concern to Siddhartha who himself had no clue of their existence. He did grow up surrounded by all the goodness of life and had all the comfort in a sumptuous palace. At the age of seven, while with his father, watching a farmer at his plowing, he saw a bird come down and picked a worm which had been dug up by the farmer. The mystery of the two creatures, the bird and the worm, became a source of mental discomfort to him from thereon (http://orias. erkeley. edu/visuals/buddha/life. html. This mental unrest was manifested in him day by day from that day. Troubled by his son unrest, the king sought out ways to cheer him up and it is here that he arranged a marriage for Siddhartha and the princess Yasodhara. This was at the age nineteen. The following ten years saw him immersed in a round of music, dancing and pleasure all from the inside of his father’s palace (http://www. accesstoinsight. org/ptf/buddha. html).

History relates that, at the age of twenty nine and with his only child having died, he was making a chariot trip around the palace when he saw an old person, a sick one and a dead person for his first time in his life. This was according to history, observations made during after three chariot trips. On the fourth one, he saw a holy man who inspired him to follow a similar path in search of freedom from the suffering that people goes through in their various stages in life.

Thus he secretly left the palace at the middle of the night and this has been known as ‘the great departure and the temptation of Buddha’ after which he sent back to his servant all his precious belongings and his horse. He shaved his head and with his only belonging, a begging bowl, in his hand set for south. (http://home. swipnet. se/ratnashri/buddhalife. htm) He first visited the hermit Bhagava and observed his ascetic practices after which he moved on to Arada and Udraka Ramaputra to learn their methods attainment.

After practicing for a time he became convinced that they would not lead him to enlightment thus he is said to have moved forth to the forest of Magadha. He is then said to have fasted for six years in an effort to overcome the different desires of the fresh. After the fasting period and after accepting a bowl of rice from a small girl, he set to mediate all night under a papal tree and it is here that he is believed to have defeated the forces of the demon Mara, thus reaching an enlightment stage to become Buddha meaning the enlightened one.

This was at the age of thirty five. He is believed to have continued mediating under the tree sitting and standing beside it at other times for the following five weeks. On the sixth week heavy rains started to fall and it is believed that he was protected from this rains by the hood of the serpent king Muchilinda. After these events, he set to teach others what he had learned encouraging them to follow a path he called ‘The middle way’. This he argued was one of balance instead of extremism. He is said to have made his first sermon in Sarnath (http://dharma. cf. ca/introduction/life-of-the-Buddha. html). He soon acquired himself many disciples and spent the next forty five years spreading his teachings in the northern eastern India. He is said to have performed many miracles in his life time though he had presented himself as a teacher and not as a god or an object of worship. History has it that he died at the age of eighty in Kushinagara after ingesting a tainted piece of either pork or mushroom. His body was then cremated and pieces distributed among his followers at that time.

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