Gautama Buddha, popularly known as the Buddha (also known as Siddhartha Gautam or Buddha Shakyamuni). He is regarded as the founder of the world religion of Buddhism, and revered by most Buddhist schools as a savior, the Enlightened One who rediscovered an ancient path to release clinging and craving and escape the cycle of birth and rebirth.
Gautama was born as a Kshatriya, the son of Suddhodana, elected chief of the Shakya clan, whose capital was Kapilavastu. His mother’s name was Maya (Mayadevi) and she was a Koliyan princess. On the night Siddhartha was conceived, she dreamt that a white elephant with six white tusks entered her right side. As was the Shakya tradition, when Queen Maya became pregnant, she left for Kapilavastu (her father’s kingdom) to give birth. However, Gautama is said to have been born in route Lumbini, in a garden beneath a sal tree. Thus, the birthplace of Buddha is Lumbini, which is in modern-day Nepal . The infant was given the name Siddhartha which meant “he who achieves his aim” in a ceremony that took place after 5 days of his birth in which 8 Brahmins scholars were invited to read the future. He was raised in Kapilvastu which is Nepal.
They all gave a dual prediction that the baby would either become a great king or a great holy man except for the youngest Brahmin Kondanna who unequivocally predicted that Siddhartha would become a Buddha.
King Suddhodana, wishing for his son to be a great king, shielded him from any contact with human suffering as well as religious teachings. It was after spending 29 years as the prince of Kapilavastu, Siddharth finally got a glimpse of the real world outside. It so happened that Gautam decided to meet his subjects, and in that attempt, he saw an aged man for the first time. His charioteer, Channa explained to him that all people grew old. In further trips, he encountered a diseased man, a decaying corpse, and an ascetic. His comprehension of the world suggested that he could overcome all this suffering by meditation and becoming an ascetic and thus, he decided to leave the royal responsibilities and family to attain enlightenment.
He taught for around 45 years and built a large following, both monastic and lay. His teaching is based on his insight into the arising of duḥkha (the unsatisfactoriness of clinging to impermanent states and things) and the ending of duhkha—the state called Nibbāna or Nirvana (extinguishing of the three fires).
After leaving the palace, Buddha went from place to place over a period of 6 years, learning and mastering the technique of meditation. He once came to a point where he starved himself but in return gained no spiritual awakening. Finally, after meditating for 49 days under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India. Siddharth is said to have become what was prophesied for him – Buddha – the Awakened One.
According to Buddhist tradition, after several years of mendicancy, meditation, and asceticism, he awakened to understand the mechanism which keeps people trapped in the cycle of rebirth. The Buddha then traveled throughout the Ganges plain teaching and building a religious community. The Buddha taught a middle way between sensual indulgence and the severe asceticism found in the Indian śramaṇa movement. He taught a training of the mind that included ethical training, self-restraint, and meditative practices such as jhana and mindfulness. The Buddha also critiqued the practices of Brahmin priests, such as animal sacrifice and the caste system.
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