Gautama Buddha (Shorts Notes on Buddha and Buddhism)

Gautama Buddha was born as Siddhartha in 563 BCE on Vaishakha Poornima at Lumbini (near modern-day Kapilvatsu, Nepal) to a Shakya chieftain Suddhodana. His mother Mahamaya died only save day after his birth and he was raised by his maternal-aunt and step-mother Gautami. Henceforth, he was also known by the name of Gautama, son of Gautami.

It was predicted that he is destined to be a Mahapurusha, either a great king or a great sage. His father was thrilled to hear about his kinghood but terrified with the idea of him being a sage. Hence, to protect him from renunciation, he shielded him up from all worldly sorrows and brought him up in luxury.

He was married to his cousin Princess Yashodhara at an early age of 16 and together they had a son named Rahula. However, at the age of 29, Siddhartha left his palace. On his journey to achieve enlightenment, he studied under two yoga gurus, first was Alara Kalama and second was Udaka Ramaputta. However, he was not satisfied with his learnings.

At last, after mindless wandering, he sat under a peepal tree at Gaya (Bihar) on the bank of Niranjana river and after 49 days of intense penance, he achieved the Nirvana (Enlightenment). When he woke up from his penance, he was starving and said to have accepted the milk and rice pudding from a village girl named Sujata. He then delivered what is called his first discourse Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta and became to be known as the Buddha. The tree later referred to as the Bodhi Tree and the region became to be known as the Bodh Gaya.

After his awakening, he met Taphussa and Bhallika — two Afghani merchant brothers - who became his first disciples. He then travelled to Sarnath near Varanasi when he delivered his first sermon to his five companions with whom he once sought enlightenment. Together with them, he established the first Sangha.

For the next four decades, the Buddha wandered around the country teaching his doctrine and establishing Sanghas, before finally attaining the Parinibbana (Parinirvana) at the age of 80. His last words were "all composite things decay, strive diligently."

The major events of Buddha's life are represented by 5 symbols:
Birth - Lotus & Bull
The Great Departure (Mahabhinishkramana) - Horse
Enlightenment - Bodhi Tree
First Sermon - Wheel of Dharma
Death (Parinirvana) - Footprints

Some of his well-known disciples were Sariputta, Moggallanna, Ananda, Kassapa and Upali. Moreover, Kings like Prasenajit of Kosala and Bimbisara and Ajatasatru of Magadha accepted his doctrines and became his disciples. In addition to that, some of the sites visited by the Buddha are Benares, Rajagriha, Sravasti, Vaisali, Nalanda and Pataliputra.

It should be noted that the Buddha never involved in any fruitless controversies regarding metaphysical queries about god, soul, karma, rebirth, but mostly concerned with the practical problems confronting the man.

The Four Noble Truths of Buddha are 1. The world is full of suffering, 2. The cause of suffering is desire, 3. If desires are get rid off, suffering can be removed. and 4. This can be done by following the Eightfold Path.

The Eightfold Path consists of right view, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. He neither accepted the god nor rejected his existence. However, he laid great emphasis on the law of karma. He argued that the condition of man in this life depends upon his deeds.
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