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Gautama Buddha
by Renu Verma

An Indian king, Shuddhodhana of Shakya clan was ruling from Kapilvastu, at the foot of the Himalayas. His wife gave birth to a beautiful son, named Siddhartha. There was a forecast that prince Siddhartha would become a sage. Father Shuddhodhana provided all the luxuries to the prince.

Siddhartha was prevented to see any sorrowful situation of life, sick persons, old persons, poor people, beggars and dead bodies were kept away from his eyes.

He was married to a gorgeous princess Yashodhara who gave birth to his son Rahul who was very good looking.

Siddhartha was full of compassion even from his childhood. Once he was playing with his brother who was cruel. He once fired an arrow and injured a bird. The bird fell near Siddhartha with that arrow pierced in its body and was crying in pain. Considerate Siddhartha picked up the bird and nursed it back to health. His brother demanded the bird because he had hunted it and went to the king and complained about this. But the king gave justice in favor of Siddhartha.

While moving in his chariot outside the palace, Siddhartha saw a sick person, an old person, a beggar and a dead person’s body. Siddhartha asked his charioteer. He was told that every human being has to face sickness, old age, and death. Siddhartha was full of sorrow at this. He started thinking deeply as to how to avoid sorrow and pain from life.

Siddhartha was very much overwhelmed by this problem. One night he left his wife and son in sleep and went out of his palace. He went to many places, met various persons; asked the cause of sorrow and suffering to many learned people but in vain.

He himself started fasting under a tree in Bodh Gaya. He became very weak. He heard some ladies singing - “Don’t stretch Veena’s wire so much that it breaks.  At the same time don’t loosen it so that no music can be played.”

This song taught the “middle path” to Siddhartha. On one full moon light in Vaishaka, a lady Sujata offered him some sweet preparation made of rice and milk to the starving Siddhartha. After eating Siddhartha gained some strength. He experienced tremendous bliss. He got the answer how to get rid of sorrow from the life. Since that time he came to be known as “Buddha”. He was also called “Shakyamuni”.

The enlightened Buddha started moving from place to place. His first discourse was at “Sarnath” near “Varanasi”. From there he started teaching his new religion called “Buddhism”. Many people and many Kings accepted “Buddhism”. In Kapilvastu his son Rahul also became his follower while his nephew Ananda was always with “Buddha”.

At Kushinagar again at the foot of the Himalayas Buddha left his mortal body.

Buddhism spread far and wide; Sri Lanka in the south, Japan, Thailand, Burma etc. in east, Bhutan, Tibet, China in the north and Afghanistan in the west.

Third Mauryan King Ashoka himself became a Buddhist and helped its spread to a great extent. Today the Indian emblem and the national flag displays Ashokan signs.

The main teaching of Buddha was that there is sorrow in the World. There are reasons for the sorrow and there are ways and means to overcome it.

There is a state of mind, which gives freedom from sorrow even once a lifetime. For this man has to acquire virtues and remove vices. Buddha taught the ‘eight fold path’ to achieve the state of “nirvana” a blissful state of mind, free from sorrow. For this people used to follow him and joined his Dharma and Sangha.     

Image under license with Gettyimages.com

1-Nov-2006
 
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