The Buddha was born to a noble family of the ruling class in Lumbini in what is now southwestern Nepal. He was raised in luxury by an adoring father who sought to protect him from the sight and knowledge of evil. He married early and had a son while he was still a youth. One day, according to legend, he rode forth from the palace in his chariot. By the roadside he saw an aged man, a sick man, and a corpse on a litter. Shocked by his first experience with old age, sickness, and death, the prince lost all joy in living.
Soon after that he renounced the world, and through all sorts of penances, even to the point of almost starving to death, he sought to gain insight into life's meanings. As he meditated in solitude under the Bo tree, which Buddhists call the tree of wisdom, he experienced a spiritual awakening, known as “the enlightenment.” Once Siddhartha Gautama was awakened to the truth about life, he became the Buddha and devoted his life to sharing his teachings with others. Preaching at first to only five followers, he soon founded an order of monks. For 45 years he gave public teachings and private counseling for his disciples. He died in about 483 BC at the age of 80.
Buddha did not claim to be of divine origin nor did he claim revelation from above. He meditated, but he prayed to no Higher Being. In Buddhism there is no beginning and no end, no Creation, and no Heaven. Buddha accepted many of the beliefs of Hinduism, the religion of his time
Gautam Buddha was the founder of the Buddhism religion. He was born in the ruling house of Kapilvastu, at Lumbini located at the foothills of Nepal in 566 B.C. His father's name was Suddodhana. He was aChief of the Shakya Republic. His mother, Mahamaya died, when he was only seven days old. Gautam Buddha was known by the name of Siddhartha in his childhood. One day when he went out he saw a diseased man, a dead man and a monk. After seeing them, he decided to leave all the materialistic things in the world and left home in search of truth.
Gautama Buddha or Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम बुद्ध; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. The word Buddha is a title for the first awakened being in an era. In most Buddhist traditions, Siddhartha Gautama is regarded as the Supreme Buddha (P. sammāsambuddha, S. samyaksaṃbuddha) of our age, "Buddha" meaning "awakened one" or "the enlightened one." [note 1] Gautama Buddha may also be referred to as Śākyamuni (Sanskrit: शाक्यमुनि "Sage of the Śākyas"). The Buddha found a Middle Way that ameliorated the extreme asceticism found in the Sramana religions.
The time of Gautama's birth and death are uncertain: most early-20th-century historians dated his lifetime as circa 563 BCE to 483 BCE, but more recent opinion dates his death to between 486 and 483 BCE or, according to some, between 411 and 400 BCE. UNESCO lists Lumbini, Nepal, as a world heritage site and birthplace of Gautama Buddha. There are also claims and speculations about birthplace to be Kapileswara, Orissa or Kapilavastu at Piprahwa, Uttar Pradesh. He later taught throughout regions of eastern India such as Magadha and Kośala.
Gautama is the primary figure in Buddhism, and accounts of his life, discourses, and monastic rules are believed by Buddhists to have been summarized after his death and memorized by his followers. Various collections of teachings attributed to him were passed down by oral tradition, and first committed to writing about 400 years later.
During what has been called the second urbanization of north-eastern India, emerging small kingdoms caused upheaval in all areas: economic, social and religious. Brahmin priests no longer retained the level of prestige and power they had as Vedic rituals and religious traditions lost their value, and more people turned their focus inwardly. They sought to know the true nature of reality that was at the bases of religious practice and the very foundation of life.
Men and women of all castes gave up everything to live a life of meditation, yoga, contemplation, starvation, self-mortification and deprivation of all kinds, in order to find this freedom, self-knowledge and fulfillment. Known as Samanas, there were so many of them that they were regarded as a fifth caste. These ascetics and sages lived alone in caves or forests, or with their families in communities. They were supported by those who felt unable to do the same but who, by helping them, believed that they gained Karmic benefits.
One Samana was Siddattha Gotama (Siddhartha Gautama), who would eventually become known as Buddha – the “Awakened One.”
“Having it all is not Enough” – the legend of Siddattha Gotama
Siddattha Gotama, legend has it, was a royal Prince whose father had protected him from any kind of suffering. From the time of his birth until the age of 29, he was given everything that one could possibly want: looks and riches, a beautiful wife, a healthy son. Then, at 29 he encountered sickness, old age, and death for the first time. Overcome by what he saw, Gotama recognized that all beings were subject to these things, no matter how much they had of worldly goods and splendor. He could no longer ignore the realities of life: suffering and death. Then he met a Samana who had renounced everything but appeared happy nonetheless, so, following his example, he left his home forever, and took up the begging bowl and staff of the Samana, to seek the end of his samsara the constant cycle of births, deaths and rebirths. Tradition
Gotama Buddha, 1st century CE,
refers to this episode as the “Four Sights.”
Kingdom of Gandhara(northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan)
For six years Gotama practiced the ascetic arts, traveling throughout the cities of the Ganges basin, studying with teachers who could impart the disciplines that would end his samsara. He learned yogic meditation and other practices but refused to believe that the temporary states arrived at were the highest realization possible to man. He deprived himself of food until he became emaciated, but concluded that this method only intensified suffering, it did not release one from it.
He realized that neither the pleasures of life nor the ascetic practices of the Samana offered him the wisdom he sought. He needed to find a way between these two extremes – this he called the Middle Way.
According to the Buddhist tradition, Gotama sat beneath a huge tree that was later called the “wisdom,” or “Bodhi” tree and vowed not to leave it until he achieved the liberating knowledge he sought.
Unlike his teachers, whose practices focused on achieving extra-sensory perceptions of the mind, Gotama’s emphasis was on the quality of ‘mindfulness’ – awareness, without judgment, of mind, body and environment. He remembered that as a child he had meditated and focused on his breath and that this had brought him a sense of both pervading calmness and awareness. He undertook a long and arduous period of meditation and contemplation that culminated in his acquiring deep insights into the human condition. Finally, in overcoming the temptations of the demonic Mara, he believed he did attain nibbana (or nirvana) – the understanding that liberated him from samsara.
“In that instance the knowledge and the vision arose in me, unshakable is the realization in my mind, this is my last birth,” At this moment he earned the title Buddha – the Awakened One.
For 49 days, we are told, he enjoyed this liberation, and pondered whether he could teach others how to attain it. Finally, he traveled on foot to Benares to seek the five ascetics who had deserted him when he gave up the samsara way. They recognized that something had changed in him, and, following his Dhamma (Dharma: teachings) became the first arahants of Buddhism. Buddha taught for several decades throughout the cities of the Gangetic basin, building a community of followers. In 410 BCE at the age of 80 he became mortally ill, his last words, tradition has it, being: