History of Gouthama Buddha

Born in the family of king, Mahatma Buddha left the royal comforts behind in the search of the Truth. His father was Maharaja Shuddhodhan. He was born in the gardensof Lumbini in Kapilvastu, about five hundred years before the start of Vikrami Samvat. His mother was Maharani Mayavati. She was on the way to her parental house. The path was decorated with flowers, flags and pitchers filled with water. Maharani Mayavati was riding a gold-cladded palanquin. When she entered the gardens of Lumbini, Mahatma Buddha was born under a Sal tree. He was totally clean and radiating. Mahabrahma received him in a net made of gold and kept him in a soft Mrigcharm (skin of a deer) and then gave him in the hands of man in a silken-cloth. In the form of a little child Buddha stood up on the ground and taking seven steps in the North direction uttered these words:

I am the foremost in the world;

I am the most prominent in the world;

I am unequalled in the world;

I would impart the true wisdom to the people of the world;

I would liberate the people of the world;

I would salvage the people of the world;

I would salvage myself.

At the birth of Mahatma Buddha the sky was illuminated and it looked auspicious all around. Maharaja Shuddhodhan donated with free hands and celebrated the occasion fabulously for many days. Before his birth many astrologers had predicted that the prince to be born would be extraordinarily brilliant in front of whom great kings and religious leaders would bow down and that he would be greatly respected in the world. After seven days of his birth, his mother expired and, therefore, he was brought up by step mother Prajavati. The prince was named Siddharth.Siddharth started to grow slowly like the moon of the bright nights, but he was not interested in playing like ordinary children. The king had provided him with various toys but they could not attract him. At the age of five years he started receiving formal education and in a very short duration he became apt at archery, horse riding and in using various weapons. Right from his early childhood Siddharth was gifted with divine qualities and with the passing of time his heart was filled with compassion for all creatures. His childhood friend Devdutt was jealous of him. Once Devdutt hit a swan with an arrow and the swan fell down on ground. Siddharth’s heart was moved seeing the pain of the swan. He took the swan in his lap and very gently pulled out the arrow from its body, cleaned the blood oozing out of the wound and stroked the swan. Devdutt asked Siddharth to give him the swan, but Siddharth refused to give him the swan saying that the swan was saved by him and the saver has a higher right over the swan than the one,who tried to kill it. King Shuddhodhan noticed that the prince was not attracted towards worldly things. He was worried that the prince might renounce the world and become an ascetic.

He, therefore, got the prince married to Yashodhara, the princess of Devdah kingdom.Siddharth, however, often used to meditate upon the miseries of the world and used to think that others were not as fortunate as he was and that he had come in the world for some extraordinary work and not for getting tied to the momentary worldly pleasures. One day the prince desired to visit the town. King Shuddhodhan so arranged his visit that no old or ailing person or no unpleasant incidence is seen by the prince, which may arouse the feelings of renunciation in his mind. The prince rode over a chariot, which was cladded with gold and was driven by four excellent horses. Ladies of the town were looking at the handsome prince, who was radiating with brilliance from the balconies and roof-tops of their houses.As the fate would have had it, Siddharth saw an old person on the way, who had lost his teeth, his back had bent, his face was full of wrinkles and his head was shaking.

He had never seen such a person before. The charioteer explained the matter. The prince started pondering over it that everyone has to suffer from old age. He returned to the palace and next day again when he went out, he saw an ailing person. The third day he saw a dead person. His heart was filled with languor and disappointment. The fourth day he saw an ascetic wearing a civar (a garment worn by ascetics), which attracted him and strengthened his inclination towards renunciation. His time to leave behind the worldly things was nearing. He could not be kept attached to the royal comforts. As he was entering the palace, he received the message of begetting a son but in his mind this also was another rope to tie him to the world.Prince Siddharth was dejected. He told his father that he wanted to renounce the world. When his father tried to dissuade him, he said that if his father could assure him that he would not die or would not age or fall sick or become poor, he would give up the idea to leave his family. King Shuddhodhan had no answer. Prince Siddharth told his father that he would gain that wisdom through which he could help people to get over these things.

The young prince retired to his royal bedroom where young ladies were appointed to entertain him but the prince was not lured by them. He went to sleep. The ladies around thought that the one for whom they were appointed has gone to sleep, so they could also go to sleep now. They, therefore, went to sleep. The prince, however, was alert. He saw those ladies, some of whom were coughing and some were secreting saliva while fast asleep. This made the prince even more detached. He asked for a horse to be brought for him to leave the palace. In the meantime he went to the room of princess Yashodhara, his wife, who was sleeping with her hand on the head of seven days old son Rahul. Siddharth thought that if he picks up the child to embrace him, Yashodhara would wake up. He, therefore, decided to embrace the young prince, his son, only after he is enlightened.He mounted upon the horse and left the palace. The door of the palace, which was locked, opened up on its own. Leaving the royal comforts and the great kingdom behind, Siddharth reached at the banks of the river Anoma in the full-moon night of the month of

Ashadh (the fourth month of the Hindu year, June-July). He resolved not to return to Kapilvastu, without enlightenment.

Siddharth shaved off his dark hair with his sword, removed his silken attire and the ornaments and became a monk. He started looking for a Guru (spiritual Master), who could impart him the knowledge of the Truth and could give him peace, but he was not able to find such a person. For seven days he stayed at Anupiya and then proceeded to Rajgrih. People were astonished to see him in the attire of a monk. Siddharth accepted alms without hesitation. He then proceeded to the forests of Uruvela and engaged in severe Tapa (penance). With five of his disciples, he spent his time in gaining knowledge, living on scanty food. Later he gave up even this scanty food. Though this weakened him physically but filled him with brilliance. His five disciples, however, left him thinking that in six years he has not been enlightened and that he was begging for alms. They went to Rishipattan. A farmer’s daughter Sujata belonging to Sonani town of Uruvela had made a prayer before a banyan tree that if she is married in an appropriate family and is blessed with a son as the first child then she would make offerings every year. Her desire was fulfilled in the sixth year of her marriage. She fed five hundred cows with the milk of specially fed thousand cows and prepared Khir (a sweet dish made by cooking rice in milk) from that milk in the morning of Baishakh Purnima (full moon night of the month of Baishakh-the second month of the Hindu year, i.e. April-May). She asked her maid Purna to clean the Devasthan (the abode of the deity). Siddharth was sitting under the tree. He had firmly resolved that he would receive enlightenment that day. Purna thought that the deity had come down in person to receive the Khir. Sujata offered the Khir, which Siddharth accepted. After Sujata left, he ate the Khir and threw away the plate made of gold in the river Neranjana. He went to the blooming Shalvan situated at the river bank and sat under the Bodhi-vriksha (the tree of wisdom-the sacred fig-tree). He resolved that he would not rise from the Aparajit-Aasan (the mode of his sitting in meditation) unless he is enlightened, even at the cost of his life. The river Neranjana was flowing quietly and the sun was about to set when Siddharth got Sambodhi (a state of deep contemplation). He remained seated in that posture for seven days contemplating about the Self and that ignorance was the root cause of all evils and removal of ignorance leads to freedom from all worldly desires. He realized that the root cause of all sorrows is desires; all worldly things are mortal and that on bearing the fruit of one’s misdeeds and on cessation of desires, one gets nirvana. Self restraint and control over senses is the only way to salvation. Adherence to truth, firm resolution for good deeds, right attitude and true faith are the means to achieve nirvana.

Mahatma Buddha then instructed his five disciples in Rishipattan and established a Sangh (a group of people) in Kashi. He asked his disciples to spread his message far and wide for the benefit of people. His five disciples namely Kaundinya, Mahanam,Washp, Ashvajit and Bhadrajit received Mahatma Buddha with great honor. In Sarnath, Mahatma Buddha announced that he had no Guru; that he has achieved nirvana; that he has understood the religion fully; that he is Buddha; that he is at peace and free from sorrows; that leaving aside the paths of penance and indulgence, he has discovered the middle path. He also announced that one should know the cause of sorrows and leave that aside. He told the groups of Bhikshus (Buddhist monks) that Samadhi adorned by morality, wisdom adorned by Samadhi and Chitta (thought) adorned by wisdom acquires the eligibility to be liberated from sorrows. To the house-holders he said in simple words that good family-men enjoy happiness while still alive; their fame reaches all around, they live happily and at the time of death they are not upset. After death they go to heavens or achieve salvation. Mahatma Buddha with his disciples then engaged in spreading their mission.

Mahatma Buddha visited Kaushal and Magadh and entered Rajgrih through Gayashirsh Mountain. Maharaja Bimbasar became his disciple. Sariputra and Maudgalayan were also initiated by him in Rajgrih. After spending sometime in Venuvan, Mahatma Buddha came to Kapilvastu and wearing the attires of monks started begging for alms in the capital city of his father’s kingdom. King Shuddhodhan’s eyes got filled with tears, people were thrilled, affluence and luxury bowed down before asceticism. King Shuddhodhan said that it was not appropriate for a Kshtriya (one belonging to the warrior caste) to beg for alms. Mahatma Buddha, however, replied that he now belonged to the family of monks, where it was customary to beg. Mahatma Buddha also said that the bliss of nirvana was the ultimate bliss and the internal spiritual pleasure is the real happiness. This world is mortal and it was the duty of every man to seek the eternal bliss, which is beyond life and death. Maharaja Shuddhodhan then took the begging-bowl of Mahatma Buddha in his own hands and entered the palace with Mahatma Buddha. When Mahatma Buddha visited the palace of princess Yashodhara, she welcomed him and put the dust of his feet at her head. She addressed her son Rahul and asked him to ask his father Mahatma Buddha for the paternal inheritance. Mahatma Buddha initiated the young prince Rahul.

From Kapilvastu, Mahatma Buddha proceeded to Kaushal. Many incidences are related to Mahatma Buddha’s life. Devdutt was his born-enemy. In connivance with king Ajatshatru, he confronted Mahatma Buddha with an elephant named Nilgiri, who was fed with nine mounds of wine. The elephant rushed with great speed towards Mahatma Buddha. People were scared. They requested Mahatma Buddha to get away, but Mahatma Buddha refused saying that the elephant was a friend. The elephant came near him and started putting the dust of Mahatma Buddha’s feet on its head. Mahatma Buddha stroked him with love and the elephant went away. Similar is the story of Angulimal. He was a dreaded dacoit living in the woods in the territory of king Prasenjit. After killing the passers-by, he used to cut off their little finger and used to wear them as a necklace. Once Buddha after taking meals in Avasti, was taking the route through the same jungle. People tried to persuade him not to go through that jungle but Buddha did not change his mind. Angulimal saw him and asked him to halt. Mahatma Buddha, however, continued to proceed ignoring Angulimal. Angulimal got annoyed and started running towards him. He, however, could not reach up to Buddha. He was surprised and asked Buddha to stop. Buddha kept on walking andtold Angulimal: ‘I am steadfast’. Angulimal stopped and asked Mahatma

Buddha-‘how are you steadfast and I am not.’ Buddha answered that by giving up the thought of

cruelity towards all creatures he was unwavering. Angulimal was deeply impressed by the courage and brilliance of Mahatma Buddha. He fell at his feet and requested to initiate him.While Mahatma Buddha was staying at Jetvan, king Prasenjit came to visit him .He said that he was going to catch and punish Angulimal. Buddha showed him the dreaded dacoit in the attires of a monk. The king was astonished. Angulimal used to visit the town for begging alms. Once Anand, a disciple of Mahatma Buddha went to Shravasti and asked a young lady standing at a well for water. The young girl Prakriti, a chandal (low caste) by caste, expressed her inability owing to her lowly caste. Anand told her that he was asking her for water to drink and not enquiring about her caste. She gave him water. Mahatma Buddha then initiated her and included her in the Sangh. The people of higher strata complained about it to king Prasenjit. Mahatma Buddha explained to the king that the rich and the mighty had not descended from the heavens, nor the down-trodden are specially born. All men are equal. The king got the message.

Once Mahatma Buddha was out for begging that he saw a lady Kisa Gautami crying. Her son had died of snake bite. She fell at the feet of Mahatma Buddha and asked him to bring her son to life again. On her insistence, Tathagat (Mahatma Buddha) told her that he would give life to her son provided she brings one fist of mustard seeds from a house where no one would have ever died. She went from door to door but could not find any family where some one or the other had not died. She realized the transitory nature of life. She cremated her son and then entered the Sangh as a monk.

Once Mahatma Buddha was camping with his disciples in the garden of Ambapali in Vaishali. The famous Ganika (a lady earning her livelihood from singing and dancing) Ambapali on listening that Buddha was camping there was thrilled and came to visit him. Wearing white clothes she came to visit Mahatma Buddha on a chariot. She invited Mahatma Buddha along with his disciples, which he accepted. Mahatma Buddha exhorted her to accept the path of Dharma saying that her mind was unwavering as a result of her inner-conscious but it was rare to find keen inclination towards Dharma in a beautiful and young lady. Dharma is the supreme path. Ambapali was so impressed that she offered that garden at the feet of Buddha.On realizing that his time for Parinirvana (complete annihilation of the self) was nearing, Mahatma Buddha expressed his desire to Anand to move to Kushinagar. Anand suggested him bigger places like Shravasti, Rajgrih and Kashi but Mahatma Buddha told him that Kushinagar was a renowned place and it was most suited for his nirvana. Anand was sad to listen that the end of Mahatma Buddha was nearing. Mahatma Buddha explained him that he was about eighty and consoled him asking him to be guided by the light of the Self and to follow the path of Dharma. On the way to Kushinagar they stayed at the mango grooves of Chund, a goldsmith, in Pava. Chund offered him sweet Khirmade of special rice, which did not suit Mahatma Buddha. It was his last meals. By sunset they reached Kushinagar. Mahatma Buddha told Anand that he would takeMahanirvana below the pair of Sal trees and told him how he should be cremated like a Chakravarti Samrat (a king of kings). His last sermon was that salvation is the ultimate objective; forgiveness is the essence of good conduct; it is the highest penance. Desires are the root cause of all sorrows. Contentment gives the real happiness. Attachment gives rise to all pains. Everything in the universe is sure to perish. Anything obtained from association or disassociation is bound to be lost.

Mahatma Buddha took Parinirvana in the late hours of night. On the arrival of his disciple Mahakashyap on the seventh day, he was cremated in proper manner. It was 420 years before the commencement of the Vikram Samvat. Various stoopas were made in his memory.