Gautam Buddha: It’s Not as Difficult as You Think
The coming of Buddha has rightly been acclaimed and hailed as the greatest event of human history. It marked the beginning of a renaissance of religion and an epoch of spiritualism. The popularity and mass appeal of Buddhism have been or enormous increase in recent decades as a practical religion and a way of life for it fundamentally address the central problem of suffering, pain and its elimination.
It shows the path as how to overcome those problems and achieve peace, happiness and final beatitude and liberation. As non-dogmatic faith and religion, it has gained immense popularity in the West in the recent past. There have been boundless regard and reverence of Buddha as a great teacher, guide, friend and preceptor all over the world. Gautam the Buddha and Buddhism are inseparable.
They are two aspects of the same thing. The flower of Buddhism is there with all its colours, glory and fragrance because there has been Buddha at its roots. To appreciate Buddhism and imbibe its essential sprit it is essential that the life story of Gautam Buddha is read our heart and studied. His biography has been of great practical value and immense help for hundreds of thousands of people since the beginning of Buddhism, one of the greatest religions of the world.
Who is Gautam Buddha? What are they Works in Buddhism
Buddha was born in 563 BC to king Suddhodana and his chief queen Mahamaya at a place called Lumbini Park under a sala tree. Then Mahamaya was on a journey to her parental home. The new born child was give the name Siddhartha Gautam. He was his family name.
Siddhartha means one who has achieved his aim. When Gautam was born, Mahamaya was in her 45th year, but unfortunately, she breathed her last seven days after the child. Gautam was born. The Lumbini Park in the Tarai region of the Himalaya near the border of Nepal. The day when Buddha was born was a full moon day of Vaisakh and the spring season was at its peak. It is believed that Buddha was born with full of awareness and shone in full effulgence like the young morning sun.
Gautam Buddha is also known as the Shakya Muni that is the Sage of the Shakyas because he belonged to the Shakyas clan. It was one of the Aryan clams who had settled in that part of the region along the valley of the river Ganga. Suddhodana, the father of Siddhartha Gautam was their king and belonged to the illustrious Solar Dynasty or the Iksvaskus. He ruled over Kapilvastu , a small kingdom. Kapilvastu can now be indentified with the little village of Piprahwa, 97 km in the north from Gorakhpur and about 93 km from Lumbini
Kapilvastu was a kind of republic. Many sages, soothsayers, munis, and astrologers visited Kapilvastu soon after prince Siddhartha’s birth. Saint Asita was one of these illustrious holy men. He was a master of reading body-marks and signs. When the infant Gautam was laid before him, he was wonder-stuck to see all the thirty-two auspicious major and eighty lesser signs and marks of greatness on the child’s body.
He saluted the child Gautam many times and predicted that he would become the Enlightened One and attain Buddhahood and not become an emperor. But this prediction left king Suddhodana a worried man because he had other plans for the prince. He wanted to see him became an emperor of the world and not a great spiritual preceptor of the humanity. According to his plan and arrangement the child was reared in seclusion and prefect protection amidst royal splendor.
As a King Siddhartha
The king got Siddhartha married to a beautiful princess name Yashodhara built for him, one for winter, and another for summer and the third one for the rainy season. But Siddhartha felt ever restless in the heaven of palaces, pleasures parks, pools, fountains, soft music, and voices of the charming ladies and such other playful intoxications.
After a prolonged seclusion, Siddhartha one day saw a decript old man while on his drive through the royal park. Then he encountered a sick man and then a dead man being carried to the cremation ground. It moved him to deep thinking and a sense of disillusionment. It proved a great turning point of his life. The sight of mendicant in rags but full of peace and tranquility clinched the issue.
Siddhartha had reached the age of 29 years and his inner restlessness, conflict and dissatisfaction gradually became so intense and intolerable that one fateful night he renounced his wife, the new born child, the pleasures of the palace and set out in his beloved horse kanthaka followed by the Charioteer Channa on foot.
They rode in silence under the full moon and reached the river Amona which formed a natural boundary between the kingdoms of Kapilvastu and Magadha. There Siddhartha got down from his horse and cut off his long, soft and flowing hair with the sword, took off his royal robe and doned rough yellow one of a wandering monk.
He removed all his ornaments and have them to Channa. he bade charioteer and the horse a poignant farewell and walked off. The horse overcome with grief at Gautama’s departure soon died broken hearted.
When Gautam Met Alara Kalma, Uruvela Forest
Gautam wondered here and there as a monk and then one day met Alara Kalma, a famous yogi of those days. Under him he learned meditation and deep concentration but Gautam soon left disillusioned as it did not strike at the root of the problem of death, rebirth and suffering. Next he met Uddaka Ramputta, another famous teacher who taught him how to attain the state and sphere of nothingness. But again Siddhartha was dissatisfied as the basic problem remained unresolved.
Then he reached the forest of Uruvela and plunged himself in severe penance, austerities and privation till he was reduced to a mere skeleton. His too long and too much mortification did not lead him to anywhere and again he felt disenchanted. He soon realized the futility of such extremes. It marked his second and penultimate stage of his search of truth and moskha. He then reached the river Niranjana, a tributary of Ganga. He had attained the age of 34 years. There on its banks he saw a large peepal tree and decided to mediate there.
He was determined either to find out the answer of the problem or die in the attempt. A young woman name Sujata came there with a pot of milk-rice and offered it to Gautama saying. “Mary your wishes be fulfilled as my own. “Siddhartha circumnutated the sacred tree thrice, had a dip in the river, ate the milk-rice and then sat on his seat of grass under the tree determined to attain enlightenment.
He sat in Padmasana, facing the East in deep mediation and finally one day the true and abusing discrimination and wisdom dawned on him and there remained no darkness, illusion, ignorance, desires and doubts. All his problems were at once answered and solved and the Law of being and becoming was revealed.
Vaishka Became a Buddha
He attains Buddhahood and became Enlightened One. It was the full moon day of Vaishka when Bodhisattva became Buddha. He had achieved perfection, complete fulfillment, true wisdom and nirvana and there was left nothing else to be achieved and done.
Buddhahood and Enlightenment had bestowed on Siddhartha many siddhis and supernatural powers unsought and undesired. Clairvoyance was one of them. Through this power he knew that his five fellow ascetics of his earlier days of monk life were in Sarnath, near Varanasi they had deserted him under the false impression that he had taken to easy life by renouncing mortification and self negation. Buddha found them in the Deer Park at Sarnath and gave them his first sermon and thus set the Wheel of Dharma in motion.
They immediately surrendered at the feet of Buddha and became his disciples and followers. Tathagata Buddha taught them the Four Noble Truths, the Eight-Fold Path and the Middle way. Buddha concluded saying “Thus O Monks! Vision, knowledge and light arose. My mental release is now unshakable. There is no rebirth. “They at once attained self-realization and enlightenment and came to be known as bhikkus (Monks).
Soon Buddha’s spiritual message reached to the masses transcending the barriers of age, caste, region, and position. His teachings and magnetic personality took the towns , cities and villages by storm and the people in large numbers thronged around him to benefit from his sermons. He disciples and bhikkus went into all the directions carrying the spiritual message affecting a virtual religious renaissance and awakening.
He showed the people the practical and easy way to salvation. He preached them how to cultivate the supreme virtues and values of truth,non-injury, compassion and rise above sense-pleasures, desires and cravings. Thus, Buddhism became the first missionary religion with the establishment of Sangha (Order).
Ways to Succeed at Gautam Buddha
Buddha travelled extensively across a very wide reign spreading over about 40,000 square miles. The number of his followers from all sections of the society, swelled rapidly and soon Buddhism became the religion and faith of both the masses and classes. Many big and small monasteries were setup and the religious community of the order began to increase by leaps and bounds. Many rich merchants’ nobles, royal persons and citizens either surrendered and became bhikkus or adopted the faith in right earnest.
Buddha’s new found gospel found favor and religious teacher and reformer in every sense of the terms. He strove day in day out to shaw the humanity the way to liberation from suffering and sorrow.
Buddha was really great and his greatness had many dimensions he was a great teacher, guru, guide, friend and master. He was a great source of inspirations, hope, expectation, enlightenment, fearlessness, solace, confidence and ultimate freedom the cycle of rebirth and death.
His compassion, love, affection, and concern for all living beings, specially the human beings, were limitless. He began to turn the Wheel of Law only because of compassion for the entire humanity. He continued the teaching of Dharma right from his first sermon in Deep Park at Sarnath to Kushinagar where he died and entered into Mahaparinirvana.
He had attained Enlightenment and become years at that point of time. He attains Enlightenment and become at the age of 35 years. The intervening long period of 45 years he devoted whole heartedly to preaching and teaching the Dharma or the Law so as to liberate the kings, princes, farmers, merchants, common men and women from the bonds of ignorance and suffering.
Wheel of Dharma
He continued to turn the Wheel of Dharma ceaselessly without any pause or rest in spite of his falling health in the final years. He travelled extensively on foot giving discourse, holding discussions and debates removing ignorance, giving and much needed advice, removing superstitions and cultivating rationality, right thinking and conduct. His concern and compassion for all without any distinction of caste, creed, sex, social, position, financial standing, vocation or profession was really profound and fathomless.
People flocked to him in large numbers to listen his messages and teaching and were immediately transformed into better, nobler, more moral and enlightened beings, such was the magic of his voice, style and personality. The momentum that began with the conversion of the Five at Sarnath grew more profound and tremendous with the passage of time.
The words of wisdom issued from his mouth like a shower of nectar and beatitude. He radiated light, warmth, happiness and confidence with his words and presence. He taught in the language and dialects of the audience and virtually became one with them.
As a teacher
He convinced them completely in regard to the efficacy and the unfailing qualities of the moral law and conduct he was teaching. At times he used his siddhis and supernatural powers of the benefits of the audience. He was a master clairvoyant who knew the past, the present and the future, could read the minds of the people easily.
In those early days there were not many formalities to ordain a person as a monk, but after some time many more formalities and rituals were introduced. These include shaving of head and beard, donning of the yellow robe and seeking refuge in the three jewels: Buddha and Sangha:
I seek refuge in the Buddha
I seek refuge in the Dharma
I seek refuge in the Sangha
Buddha’s teaching spread far and wide in no time giving enlightenment to the people. Yasa, a rich merchant of Varanasi was one of the early coverts. One fine morning he woke up and found the luxurious life so stifling that he at once rushed to the Master and sought refuge in him.
His father followed suit and then finally his whole family became his disciples. While Yasa become a bhikku and was admitted into the Sangha, his father, mother and wife became the first lay disciples.
Buddha attracted following both from the secular society and other religious sects and systems. Sariputra and Maudaglyan were the converts from the other sects. And they both become great disciples and teachers of the fait. Maudaglyan was one of those great who possessed many siddhis and supernatural powers.
Sariputra was well known for his wisdom and mediation. Buddha’s cousin Ananda was one of the early converts. He also became Master’s personal attendant and very close disciple. Buddha’s own Rahul was admitted into the Sangha as a monk at the young age 20 years. Yogi Uruvela Kassapa was also one of the early converts and followers of Buddha.
Some Great things By Buddha
Buddhism, as a major world religion organized system of faith, beliefs and way of life has cause revolutionary changes in the life of millions of people all over the world since its inception. Its influence in South-East Asian countries and China has been abiding and far reaching. Today the number of Buddha’s followers it’s estimated to be over 354 million.
Buddha preached that the two extremes in life –over indulgence and attachment to sensual object and their enjoyment and the masochistic self-negation and denial should be avoided. He advised these followers to strive for the Middle Path containing Four Holy Truths and the Eight-fold Noble path. The Four Holy truths are :
- Existence of sorrow and suffering.
- Unhappiness cause by desires.
- These can be overcome by following.
- The Eight-fold Nobel path.
The Eight-fold Path consists of the following
- Right Understanding
- Right Purpose
- Right Speech
- Right Behavior
- Right Vocation
- Right Efforts
- Right Alertness and
- Right concentration