About The Buddha
Three hundred years before Alexandria was founded, about the time that Thales, the most ancient philosopher of Europe was teaching in Greece, that water is the origin of all things, the soul of the world; and Zoroaster, in Media or Persia, was systematizing the fire-worship of the Magi; and Confucius in China, was calling on the teeming multitudes around him to offer the guardian spirits and the manes of their ancestors; and Nebuchadnezzar was setting up his golden image in the plains of Dura; and Daniel was laboring in Babylon to establish the worship of the true God in Judea; a reverend sage who had left a throne for philosophy, was traveling from Bodhgaya to Benares, and from Benares to Kanouj, exhorting the people against theft, falsehood, adultery, killing, and intemperance.
In the year 563 B. C. on the Full Moon Day of Vaisakha in the kingdom of Kapilavastu a young prince was born to King Suddhodana and Queen Mahamaya in the royal Lumbini grove under a Sal Tree. On the fifth day of his birth he was named ‘Siddhartha’ and on the seventh day his mother expired. Prajapati Gautami, the younger sister of Mahamaya, who also was his step-mother, took care of the young child like any other mother would do.
During the formative years of Prince Siddhartha, he received his early education and was trained in warfare and administration but he was often found immersed in deep – thoughts regarding the suffering and miseries of humanity. He was opposed to exploitation of man by man, inequality, poverty, violence, class and caste system. When he attained the age of sixteen he was married to a very beautiful and charming Princess Yashodhara, daughter of the Koliya King Dandapani of Devadaha.
When Siddhartha was 29 Years old Yashodhara gave birth to a beautiful son named Rahula and this he termed as another impediment to keep him attached to worldly life. He left his palace leaving behind his parents, his beautiful wife and the new born Rahula in search of a way that would free mankind or humanity from the cycle of suffering.
Since then Prince Siddhartha who became a parivrajaka wandered forth to several teachers in search of the Truth that would end the cycle of birth and death. He went to dense forests and dark caves, and met many teachers, practised penance and self- mortification and studied their doctrines and disciplines but all these were not sufficient to satisfy him for what he earnestly sought for and he practiced these severe austerities for six long years without taking food nor drink and as a result of which he turned into a mere skeleton.
Realizing that the practice of severe austerities would lead him to death he left his friends and came to the east bank of the river Niranjana where he was offered Kheer (rice-pudding = rice cooked with milk and sugar) by Sujata, daughter of the chief of the village Senani. Accepting the dāna (offer) of Sujata he crossed river Niranjana and came to Uruvela on the same day and in the evening he prepared a seat of kusa grass and sat beneath the peepal tree facing eastwards. The Bodhisattva Siddhartha who was determined to reach the truth started his fight against Mara, the Evil One sitting for meditation with a strong determination (adhitthāna) that unless and until he cannot find out the truth he would not get up from the seat, come what may.
All the efforts of Mara failed to disturb and distract Siddhartha from his seat and on the full Moon day of Vaisākha during the last watch of the night at the age of 35 years he attained Supreme Enlightenment and came to be known as the Buddha which means the All Knowing One, the All Compassionate One, One who can show us the Truth to end all Suffering for which He is also called the Bhagawān, Sugato, Samyak Sambuddha and Tathāgata and the seat of His Enlightenment is called the ‘Vajråsana’ or the ‘Diamond Throne’ and the Tree under which He attained Enlightenment is known as the ‘Bodhi Tree’ the botanical name being the ‘Ficus Religiosa’.
After attaining Enlightenment, the Buddha spent seven more weeks in meditation in seven different places around the Bodhi Tree contemplating his stupendous achievement for this human life, because to be born as a human being is very rare an opportunity.