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He left home to find the real truth
of our birth and death. he was the seeker after
Truth. He practised meditation under various teachers and then took to
asceticism. Lord Buddha set on meditation to find his ultimate goal for six years.
he became man of bone, dryed nearly into sckeleton but still set and keep on searching for the truth .
Eventually he practised austerities so severe that he was
on the point of death - but true understanding seemed as far away as ever.
He decided to abandon this path and to look into his own heart and mind.
He sat down beneath the pipal tree and vowed that 'flesh may wither, blood
may dry up, but I shall not rise from this spot until Enlightenment has
been won.' After forty days, the Buddha finally attained Enlightenment.
he attained a state of being that goes beyond anything else in the world.
If normal experience is based on conditions - upbringing, psychology,
opinions, perceptions, and so on - Enlightenment is Unconditioned. It
was a state in which the Buddha gained Insight into the deepest workings
of life and therefore into the cause of human suffering, the problem that
had set him on his spiritual quest in the first place.
During the remaining
45 years of his life he travelled through much of northern India, spreading
his teaching of the way to Enlightenment. The teaching is known in the
East as the Buddha-dharma - 'the teaching of the Enlightened One'. Buddhism became
the most famous religion in the world. it was know as the "World Religion" .
Travelling from place to place, the Buddha taught numerous disciples, many of whom
gained Enlightenment in their own right. They, in turn, taught others
and in this way an unbroken chain of teaching has continued, right down
to the present day.
The Buddha was not
a God and he made no claim to divinity. nor does he was sent by some one else. He was a human being who, through
numerous birth <"parami" etc.>, tremendous efforts, transformed himself. Buddhists see him as an ideal
and a guide who can lead one to Enlightenment oneself. the person who is enlightened would get over the cycle of birth, which is known as "Nirvan".
After the Lord Buddha's "Maha PariNirvan"?
Buddhism died out
in India a thousand years ago (though it has recently revived). It spread
south to Sri Lanka and South East Asia including Bangladesh, where the Theravadin form of Buddhism
continues to flourish, and north to Tibet, China, Mongolia, and Japan.
The Mahayana forms of Buddhism are still practiced in these countries,
although in the last century they have suffered greatly from the effects
of communism and consumerism. In the last century Buddhism has emphatically
arrived in the West, and hundreds of thousands of westerners have become
On the full moon day of May, in the year 623
B.C. there was born in the Lumbinī Park at Kapilavatthu, on the Indian
borders of present Nepal, a noble prince who was destined to be the greatest religious
teacher of the world.
His father was King Suddhodana of the
aristocratic Sakya clan and his mother was Queen Mahā Māyā. As the
beloved mother died seven days after his birth, Maha Pajāpatī Gotamī, her
younger sister, who was also married to the King, adopted the child, entrusting her own
son, Nanda, to the care of the nurses.
Great were the rejoicings of the people over
the birth of this illustrious prince. An ascetic of high spiritual attainments, named Asita,
also known as Kāļadevala, was particularly pleased to hear this happy news, and being a
tutor of the King, visited the palace to see the Royal babe. The King, who felt honoured
by his unexpected visit, carried the child up to him in order to make the child pay him
due reverence, but, to the surprise of all, the child's legs turned and rested on the
matted locks of the ascetic. Instantly, the ascetic rose from his seat and, foreseeing
with his supernormal vision the child's future greatness, saluted him with clasped hands.
The Royal father did likewise.
The great ascetic smiled at first and then
was sad. Questioned regarding his mingled feelings, he answered that he smiled because the
prince would eventually become a Buddha, an Enlightened One, and he was sad because he
would not be able to benefit by the superior wisdom of the Enlightened One owing to his
prior death and rebirth in a Formless Plane (Arūpaloka).
On the fifth day after the prince's birth he
was named Siddhattha which means "wish fulfilled". His family name
In accordance with the ancient Indian custom
many learned brahmins were invited to the palace for the naming ceremony. Amongst them
there were eight distinguished men. Examining the characteristic marks of the child, seven
of them raised two fingers each, indicative of two alternative possibilities, and said
that he would either become a Universal Monarch or a Buddha. But the youngest, Kondańńa,
who excelled others in wisdom, noticing the hair on the forehead turned to the right,
raised only one finger and convincingly declared that the prince would definitely retire
from the world and become a Buddha.
A very remarkable incident took place in his
childhood. It was an unprecedented spiritual experience which, later, during his search
after truth, served as a key to his Enlightenment.
To promote agriculture, the King arranged for
a ploughing festival. It was indeed a festive occasion for all, as both nobles and
commoners decked in their best attire, participated in the ceremony. On the appointed day,
the King, accompanied by his courtiers, went to the field, taking with him the young
prince together with the nurses. Placing the child on a screened and canopied couch under
the cool shade of a solitary rose-apple tree to be watched by the nurses, the King
participated in the ploughing festival. When the festival was at its height of gaiety the
nurses too stole away from the prince's presence to catch a glimpse of the wonderful
In striking contrast to the mirth and
merriment of the festival it was all calm and quiet under the rose-apple tree. All the
conditions conducive to quiet meditation being there, the pensive child, young in years
but old in wisdom, sat cross-legged and seized the opportunity to commence that
all-important practice of intent concentration on the breath-on exhalations and
inhalations -- which gained for him then and there that one pointedness of mind known as
Samadhi and he thus developed the First Jhāna (Ecstasy). The child's nurses, who
had abandoned their precious charge to enjoy themselves at the festival, suddenly
realizing their duty, hastened to the child and were amazed to see him sitting crosslegged
plunged in deep meditation. The King hearing of it, hurried to the spot and, seeing the
child in meditative posture, saluted him, saying-- "This, dear child, is my second
As a Royal child, Prince Siddhattha must have
received an education that became a prince although no details are given about it. As a
scion of the warrior race he received special training in the art of warfare.
At the early age of sixteen, he married his
beautiful cousin Princess Yasodharā who was of equal age. For nearly thirteen
years, after his happy marriage, he led a luxurious life, blissfully ignorant of the
vicissitudes of life outside the palace gates. Of his luxurious life as prince, he states:
"I was delicate, excessively delicate.
In my father's dwelling three lotus-ponds were made purposely for me. Blue lotuses bloomed
in one, red in another, and white in another. I used no sandal-wood that was not of Kāsi.
My turban, tunic, dress and cloak, were all from Kāsi."
"Night and day a white parasol was held over me so that I might not be touched by
heat or cold, dust, leaves or dew."
"There were three palaces built for me one for the cold season, one for the
hot season, and one for the rainy season. During the four rainy months, I lived in the
palace for the rainy season without ever coming down from it, entertained all the while by
female musicians. Just as, in the houses of others, food from the husks of rice together
with sour gruel is given to the slaves and workmen, even so, in my father's dwelling food
with rice and meat was given to the slaves and workmen."
With the march of time, truth gradually
dawned upon him. His contemplative nature and boundless compassion did not permit him to
spend his time in the mere enjoyment of the fleeting pleasures of the Royal palace. He
knew no personal grief but he felt a deep pity for suffering humanity. Amidst comfort and
prosperity, he realized the universality of sorrow.
Prince Siddhattha reflected thus:
"Why do I, being subject to birth, decay, disease, death, sorrow and impurities,
thus search after things of like nature. How, if I, who am subject to things of such
nature, realize their disadvantages and seek after the unattained unsurpassed, perfect
security which is Nibbāna!" "Cramped and confined is household life, a den of
dust, but the life of the homeless one is as the open air of heaven! Hard is it for him
who bides at home to live out as it should be lived the Holy Life in all its perfection,
in all its purity."
One glorious day as he went out of the palace
to the pleasure park to see the world outside, he came in direct contact with the stark
realities of life. Within the narrow confines of the palace he saw only the rosy side of
life, but the dark side, the common lot of mankind, was purposely veiled from him. What
was mentally conceived, he, for the first time, vividly saw in reality. On his way to the
park his observant eyes met the strange sights of a decrepit old man, a diseased person, a
corpse and a dignified hermit. The first three sights convincingly proved to him, the
inexorable nature of life, and the universal ailment of humanity. The fourth signified the
means to overcome the ills of life and to attain calm and peace. These four unexpected
sights served to increase the urge in him to loathe and renounce the world.
Realizing the worthlessness of sensual
pleasures, so highly prized by the worldling, and appreciating the value of renunciation
in which the wise seek delight, he decided to leave the world in search of Truth and
When this final decision was taken after much
deliberation, the news of the birth of a son was conveyed to him while he was about to
leave the park. Contrary to expectations, he was not overjoyed, but regarded his first and
only offspring as an impediment. An ordinary father would have welcomed the joyful
tidings, but Prince Siddhattha, the extraordinary father as he was, exclaimed -- "An
impediment (rāhu) has been born; a fetter has arisen". The infant son was
accordingly named Rāhula by his grandfather.
The palace was no longer a congenial place to
the contemplative Prince Siddhattha. Neither his charming young wife nor his lovable
infant son could deter him from altering the decision he had taken to renounce the world.
He was destined to play an infinitely more important and beneficial role than a dutiful
husband and father or even as a king of kings. The allurements of the palace were no more
cherished objects of delight to him Time was ripe to depart.
He ordered his favourite charioteer Channa
to saddle the horse Kaóöhaka, and went to the suite of apartments occupied by the
princess. Opening the door of the chamber, he stood on the threshold and cast his
dispassionate glance on the wife and child who were fast asleep. Great was his compassion
for the two dear ones at this parting moment. Greater was his compassion for suffering
humanity. He was not worried about the future worldly happiness and comfort of the mother
and child as they had everything in abundance and were well protected. It was not that he
loved them the less, but he loved humanity more.
Leaving all behind, he stole away with a
light heart from the palace at midnight, and rode into the dark, attended only by his
loyal charioteer. Alone and penniless he set out in search of Truth and Peace. Thus did he
renounce the world. It was not the renunciation of an old man who has had his fill of
worldly life. It was not the renunciation of a poor man who had nothing to leave behind.
It was the renunciation of a prince in the full bloom of youth and in the plenitude of
wealth and prosperity -- a renunciation unparalleled in history.
It was in his twenty-ninth year that Prince
Siddhattha made this historic journey.
He journeyed far and, crossing the river Anoma,
rested on its banks. Here he shaved his hair and beard and handing over his garments and
ornaments to Channa with instructions to return to the palace, assumed the simple yellow
garb of an ascetic and led a life of voluntary poverty.
The ascetic Siddhattha, who once lived in the
lap of luxury, now became a penniless wanderer, living on what little the
charitably-minded gave of their own accord.
He had no permanent abode. A shady tree or a
lonely cave sheltered him by day or night. Bare-footed and bare-headed, he walked in the
scorching sun and in the piercing cold. With no possessions to call his own, but a bowl to
collect his food and robes just sufficient to cover the body, he concentrated all his
energies on the quest of Truth.
Search for Truth
Thus as a wanderer, a seeker after what is
good, searching for the unsurpassed Peace, he approached Āļāra Kālāma, a
distinguished ascetic, and said: "I desire, friend Kālāma to lead the Holy Life in
this Dispensation of yours." Thereupon Āļāra Kālāma told him: "You
may stay with me, O Venerable One. Of such sort is this teaching that an intelligent man
before long may realize by his own intuitive wisdom his master's doctrine, and abide in
the attainment thereof."
Before long, he learnt his doctrine, but it
brought him no realization of the highest Truth.
Then there came to him the thought: When Āļāra
Kālāma declared: "Having myself realized by intuitive knowledge the doctrine, I
-- 'abide in the attainment thereof --, it could not have been a mere profession of faith;
surely Alara Kalama lives having understood and perceived this doctrine."
So he went to him and said "How far,
friend Kālāma, does this doctrine extend which you yourself have with intuitive wisdom
realized and attained?"
Upon this Āļāra Kālāma made known
to him the Realm of Nothingness (Ākińcańńāyatana), an advanced stage of
Then it occurred to him: "Not only in Āļāra
Kālāma are to be found faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. I too
possess these virtues. How now if I strive to realize that doctrine whereof Āļāra
Kālāma says that he himself has realized and abides in the attainment thereof!"
So, before long, he realized by his own
intuitive wisdom that doctrine and attained to that state, but it brought him no
realization of the highest Truth. Then he approached Āļāra Kālāma and said;
"Is this the full extent, friend Kalama, of this doctrine of which you say that you
yourself have realized by your wisdom and abide in the attainment thereof?"
"But I also, friend, have realized thus
far in this doctrine, and abide in the attainment thereof."
The unenvious teacher was delighted to hear
of the success of his distinguished pupil. He honoured him by placing him on a perfect
level with himself and admiringly said:
"Happy, friend, are we, extremely happy; in that we look upon such a venerable
fellow-ascetic like you! That same doctrine which I myself have realized by my wisdom and
proclaim, having attained thereunto, have you yourself realized by your wisdom and abide
in the attainment thereof; and that doctrine you yourself have realized by your wisdom and
abide in the attainment thereof, that have I myself realized by my wisdom and proclaim,
having attained thereunto. Thus the doctrine which I know, and also do you know; and the
doctrine which you know, that I know also. As I am, so are you; as you are, so am I. Come,
friend, let both of us lead the company of ascetics."
The ascetic Gotama was not satisfied with a
discipline and a doctrine which only led to a high degree of mental concentration, but did
not lead to "disgust, detachment, cessation (of suffering), tranquillity; intuition,
enlightenment, and Nibbāna." Nor was he anxious to lead a company of ascetics even
with the co-operation of another generous teacher of equal spiritual attainment, without
first perfecting himself. It was, he felt, a case of the blind leading the blind.
Dissatisfied with his teaching, he politely took his leave from him.
In those happy days when there were no
political disturbances the intellectuals of India were preoccupied with the study and
exposition of some religious system or other. All facilities were provided for those more
spiritually inclined to lead holy lives in solitude in accordance with their temperaments
and most of these teachers had large followings of disciples. So it was not difficult for
the ascetic Gotama to find another religious teacher who was more competent than the
On this occasion he approached one Uddaka
Rāmaputta and expressed his desire to lead the Holy Life in his Dispensation. He was
readily admitted as a pupil.
Before long the intelligent ascetic Gotama,
mastered his doctrine and attained the final stage of mental concentration, the Realm of
Neither Perception nor Non-Perception (N'eva Sańńā N'asańńāyatana), revealed
by his teacher. This was the highest stage in worldly concentration when consciousness
becomes so subtle and refined that it cannot be said that a consciousness either exists or
not. Ancient Indian sages could not proceed further in spiritual development.
The noble teacher was delighted to hear of
the success of his illustrious royal pupil. Unlike his former teacher the present one
honoured him by inviting him to take full charge of all the disciples as their teacher. He
said: "Happy friend, are we; yea, extremely happy, in that we see such a venerable
fellow-ascetic as you. The doctrine which Rāma knew, you know; the doctrine which you
know, Rāma knew. As was Rāma so are you; as you are, so was Rāma. Come, friend,
henceforth you shall lead this company of ascetics."
Still he felt that his quest of the highest
Truth was not achieved. He had gained complete mastery of his mind, but his ultimate goal
was far ahead. He was seeking for the Highest, the Nibbāna, the complete cessation of
suffering, the total eradication of all forms of craving. "Dissatisfied with this
doctrine too, he departed thence, content therewith no longer."
He realized that his spiritual aspirations
were far higher than those under whom he chose to learn. He realized that there was none
capable enough to teach him what he yearned for -- the highest Truth. He also realized
that the highest Truth is to be found within oneself and ceased to seek external aid.
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