His early years
Siddhārtha Gautama (Sidaaha) was born in the kingdom of Kapilvastu in Nepal. Today, the birthplace of Buddha is called Lumbini, in Nepal. At the time, a clan called the Shakya's ruled Kapilvastu. His father was a king named Suddodana Tharu, and his mother was Maya Devi. His mother died when he was about 7 months. His father controlled him in a very peaceful and nice way. There were home tutors for him as he was not interested in the outward things that took pace at that time. Siddhārtha lived in luxury; his father kept trouble and hard work far from him. A seer predicted that if Siddhārth stayed inside his palace his whole life, then he would become a great king. However, if he left the palace, then he would become a great religious leader. The king did not want his son to become a religious leader. He kept Siddhartha in the palace for his whole childhood.
When he was older, his father found a woman for Siddhārtha to marry at the age of 16. He married the woman named Yashodhara, and they had a son, Rahul. Although Gautama had everything he could want, he was still not happy. He wanted to learn the meaning of his existence.
Legend says that he got out of the castle against his father's orders. He saw the "Four Great Sights": an old crippled man, a sick man, a dead man, and a holy man with no home. But in reality he became member of Shakya Sangh in age of 20. After eight years the Shakya and Kolis' dispute happened. It was about the use of water of the river Rohini. Some people of both the sides were injured. After this, in a meeting of Shakya Sangh they decided to fight a war against the Kolis to teach them lesson. Siddhartha opposed the proposal and said, "war is not a solution to any problem, we can form a council with some people from both sides and that council can solve the issues." Almost all the members rejected his opinion. Next day head of the Sangh said, "we are going to recruit new soldiers for the war and it is essential for a man who is above 20 and below 50 years." Again Siddhartha opposed the proposal. Head of the Sangh made him recall his oath but Siddharth said, he would not fight. Sangh asked him to choose between three options: fighting for the Sangh against the Kolis; a death sentence; or he leaving the country and boycotting his family. Siddhartha said "I am ready for death". The head of the Sangh said, "this step can be harmful because Kosala's king will not allow it." Siddharta said he would become a monk and then he could leave this country, and that Kosala's king could not do anything about it. The head of the Sangh thought it was a good idea. The head of the Sangh said that after Siddharta left, they would start a war so that king would not be able to find any relation between him and war. The next day, Siddhartha left his family, his land and everything else at the age of 29.
At that time, holy men were usually ascetics. They hurt their bodies in order to help their spiritual beings. They do not do things they like so they can defeat their desires. The most ascetic kinds of holy men were called Jains. They practiced self-denial and made themselves suffer very much. They believed this would free the ātman (soul) from pain and sadness. Siddhārth did these things well. Eventually he was better than his teachers. He still found no answer, and he left his teachers, some friends and he went even farther. He ate only six grains of rice a day. He tried holding his breath. He became just skin and bones, and he nearly died. Still, he had no answer.
Siddhārth started to think again about this path. He thought there might be a better way than hurting himself. He found a fig tree (now called the Bodhi tree) and started to meditate. He told himself that he would not get up until he had found enlightenment. He meditated under the tree for 49 days. His mind is said to have become pure, and then, six years after he began his path, he said he found Enlightenment, and became the Buddha.
The life as a Buddha
When the Buddha became enlightened, he knew the answer to suffering, and he knew how to defeat suffering. This answer was called the Four Noble Truths. He was not sure if he should teach his new ideas or not. He asked himself if the world was ready for such a deep teaching. But in the end, he decided to travel to a town called Sarnath to teach the people his new way. He taught about the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. The people listened to him.
When he taught, he did not pretend to be a god. He said he was just a man who had found the meaning of life (enlightenment), and that any person can also find the meaning of life. For the rest of his life, he walked all over Southern Nepal and parts of India to teach people what he believed. He started a Sangha, which is a group of Buddhist monks and nuns. Many people became enlightened because of him. At the age of 80, Gautama Buddha died.
The life teachings
The teachings of the Buddha are known as Buddhism. Buddhism is mostly about ending the feeling of pain that all people feel inside. Gautama Buddha taught that pain is a part of all life. He taught that pain is because of desire. And he showed that there is a way to end desire and end pain by doing good things, not doing bad things, and training one's mind. This is done to end pain and gain enlightenment.
Buddhism teaches non-harm and balance – not going too far one way or the other. The Buddha taught people to meditate, or think deeply, while sitting in the lotus position. Some Buddhists chant and meditate while walking. Buddhists sometimes do these things to understand the human heart and mind. Sometimes they do these things to understand the way the world works. Sometimes they do these things to find peace.
The Buddha would not say if gods exist or not. He taught that people should not look to gods to save them or bring them enlightenment. The gods may have power over world events and they might help people, or they might not. But Buddha believed that it is up to each person to become enlightened.
- "Buddhists celebrate birth of Gautama Buddha". A&E Television Networks. Retrieved 4 July 2010.
- "Yashodhara (wife of Buddha)". Britannica. Retrieved 4 July 2010.
- "Rahula -— The Son of the Enlightened One". BuddhaNet. Retrieved 4 July 2010.
- Buddhacarita by Asvaghosa chapter 4, verse 84-96
- Buddhacarita by Asvaghosa chapter 4, verse 7-11
|40x40px||Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gautama Buddha.|
|40x40px||Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Gautama Buddha|