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praadjarnpaki
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PostPosted: Thu 7 Feb - 09:08 (2013)    Post subject: Buddha's life Reply with quote

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Gautama Buddha

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Infant life of our Gautama Buddha is full of mythical incidents. They may have been added to show the superiority of this Supreme human being, or there might be some truth to some of them since our Buddha had wished for Buddha hood for incalculable number of births and had collected immeasurable amount of merit at all those births.
This article contains all those incidents since they have been handed down to us for 2600 years and shows the magnitude of our Great Buddha’s mental power which is not a myth at all.
There was a state in Kosala desh in ancient India called Shakya, which belonged to the Shakya clan. The ruler of this state was King Suddhodhana who ruled from the capital, Kapilawastu (now Western region of modern Nepal).
He married Princess Maya Devi who was the daughter of King Suprabuddha who ruled the State of  Devdaha in ancient India (Rupandehi district in Terai region of Nepal). Maya Devi was a very virtuous and talented princess apart from her great beauty.
King Suprabuddha was the ruler of the Koliya clan and was the uncle of King Suddhodhana. Therefore, this matrimony was between two cousins.
King Suddhodhana ruled the state righteously and was loved & respected by all.
By this time, our great Buddha, as the ‘Gautama Bodhisatwa’, was waiting patiently in the Thusitha heaven till the time was proper for him to be born in the human world.
It was the 6th century BC. Since it was the right time for a Buddha to be born in the world, the gods invited him to do so.

Queen Maya Devi dreamt of a white elephant

Before being born in the human world, a Bodhisathwa has to consider five major factors regarding his birth. They were, whether the time was right for him to be born as a human, which continent he should choose to be born as   human, which state he should choose to be born as a human, which cast he should choose to be born as a human and who he should choose as his mother.
After contemplating the above five factors carefully, our Gautama Bodhisathwa chose Queen Maya Devi as his mother. On an Esala Full moon day (Full moon day in July), our Gautama Bodhisathwa entered his mother’s womb.
As an indication of this great event, Queen Maya Devi dreamt of a white elephant carrying a white lotus flower circling her bed thrice and entering her stomach from the right side.
The wise-men (Brahmins) of the court confirmed that the dream was an indication of the birth of a great being to the royal couple.

Queen Mayadevi

As was the tradition (which is still observed in some Eastern countries), Queen Maya Devi travelled to her parents’ home in Devdaha for her first confinement. She was taken in a great procession with thousands of attendants. On the way she stopped at Lumbini (Terai planes of Southern Nepal) which was a beautiful and shady grove of ‘Sal trees’ (Shorea robusta) to admire the surroundings and rest a while. It was the Wesak Full moon day (Full moon day in May) and the queen got labour pains and gave birth to a baby boy under a ‘Sal tree’.


Prince Siddhartha

Legend has it that this baby walked seven steps as soon as he was born, on the ground; each step was welcomed by a lotus flower which sprouted from the earth. While standing on the last lotus he proclaimed to the world that he would be the greatest and the noblest being on the Earth and that this would be his last birth.

The procession which took Maya Devi to her parents turned back and returned to Kapilawastu with the new born baby. King Suddhodhana received them half way with great joy.

Sage Asitha

Learning of the birth, Sage Asitha, who was the teacher of King Suddhodhana visited the king’s palace, the following day. When the king brought his son close to the Sage, the baby’s feet rested on the Sage’s head, on its own accord. Asitha understanding the significance of the incident put his hands together and worshiped the baby, laughing. And then he started to weep. When the king asked for the meaning of his action, the Sage said that he laughed because this infant would definitely become the Enlightened One, the Buddha; he had cried because by that time, he would not be in the human world to hear the Buddha’s preachings. Hearing this, King Suddhodhana too worshipped his son, for the first time.


Fifth day after the baby was born

On the fifth day after the baby was born, the King invited five renowned Brahmins for the naming ceremony. After examining the marks on the body of the infant, four of them said that if the prince chooses to stay in the lay life, he would become the Universal Monarch; if he chooses to follow a religious life, he would become the Enlightened One, the Buddha. The youngest of the five Brahmins, Kondanna firmly said that the baby would become the Enlightened One, nothing else. Since the new born would do lot of good to the world either way, he was given the name “Siddhartha”, meaning, ‘the person who would do good to the world’.

Since his tribal name was ‘Gautama’, the prince was called ‘Siddhartha Gautama’.
After seven days of Prince Siddhartha’s birth, Queen Maya Devi passed away and was born in Thusitha heaven as the mother-god. The infant prince was brought up by his mother’s sister ‘Prajapathi Gothami’, who became the consort of King Suddhodhana after Maya Devi’s death.

Prince Siddhartha

On the fifth month of Prince Siddhartha, the royal sowing feast was held at the Royal paddy fields. The baby prince too was taken to the fields and was kept in a tent under a tree. The attendants came out of the tent to watch the feast. After a while, when they peeped inside the tent to see whether the baby was all right, they were astonished to see him meditating. The king was informed of this and for the second time, King Suddhodana paid reverence to his son.


Prince Siddhartha & Princess Yasodara

King Suddhodhana gave all the comforts in life to his son abundantly and a good education as fitting to a king. Prince Siddhartha learnt everything very fast and even his relatives were doubtful of his learning ability since it was too brief. The prince had to prove his skills to them in a public demonstration, which won him his consort Princess Yasodara, a cousin of his.

King Suddhodhana did everything in his power to prevent his son being attracted towards a religious life. He prohibited the old, sick, and the yellow robed ascetics from wandering in the city and display of dead bodies and funeral processions because the astrologers had said that the prince would embrace a religious life after seeing those four sights.
The king gave his son three great palaces suitable for the three seasons called ‘Ramya’, ‘Suramya’ & ‘Subha’. They were full of riches and beautiful, talented young women sang and danced all day along to provide pleasure to the prince. Most of his young life, the prince was confined to those palaces.

The prince saw an old person

But one day, on one of their rare strolls, the prince hard-pressed his faithful attendant Channa, who was following the king’s instructions to the letter and prevented the prince from going outside the city walls alone all these years, to take him out of the city. All the visits to the outside of the city by the Prince had been pre-planned before. Channa knew he was in great danger if the king knew. But, after much deliberation, he took the prince outside the city walls and for the first time, the prince saw an old person trudging on the road pathetically. The prince learnt from Channa that everybody would become old one day.


The prince saw a sick person

On prince Siddhartha’s next visit outside the walls of the city, he encountered a sick person who was lamenting with pain and learnt from Channa that everybody gets sick onetime or another.

The prince saw a funeral

The prince encountered a funeral on his third visit outside the city gates and learnt that everybody dies and it is inevitable.


The prince saw a yellow robed ascetic

On his fourth visit outside the city, he saw a yellow robed ascetic walking calmly with his head bent. From Channa he learnt that those are the ones who have renounced the lay life for a peaceful living, rid of all worldly desires seeking to end suffering in the world. This explanation captivated the prince immensely.
He was in great thoughts on the way back when he learnt that his wife had given birth to a son. Hearing the news, the prince uttered “A Rahula was born bringing an attachment to life.”
Hearing his son’s words from others, King Suddhodhana named his grandson ‘Rahula’.
The prince entered the palace to the music and dancing of the court women. But he was not interested in them anymore. He fell asleep contemplating about the reality of life. When he suddenly woke up at midnight, he saw the reality much better. All the young beauties who were entertaining him from the previous night have fallen asleep all over the place. Some were groaning and snoring, some were discharging saliva, some were half naked and some were grinding their teeth in sleep. The prince then and there made up his mind to depart the lay life and go in search of deliverance.

Maha Abinishkramanaya

He just sneaked a quick look at his new born son who was sleeping cuddled to his mother and walked out of the Palace with Channa and his well trained horse ‘Kanthaka’, never to return to the comfortable palace life.
Prince Siddhartha was 29 years old and it was an Esala Full moon day.
This is called the ‘Great Renunciation’ since he left all the worldly comforts and riches to find the end of suffering, which was a very difficult task.

Prince Siddhartha

At the banks of river ‘Anoma’, he cut his long hair with his sword and got rid of all the body ornaments, which he asked Channa to give to his father and became an ascetic. Seeing his master’s transformation, the horse died of  broken heart. Channa walked back sadly to the palace with the prince’s belongings and conveyed the message to the stunned family of Prince Siddhartha.
 

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praadjarnpaki
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PostPosted: Thu 7 Feb - 09:33 (2013)    Post subject: Buddha's life Reply with quote

Prince Gautama Siddhartha, after assuming an ascetic life, first went to Malla (present day Uttar Pradesh in India) and resided for seven days in the mango grove named Anupiyabelonging to the princes of Malla. On the seventh day, he went towards Rajagaha (present day Rajgir in the Nalanda District, in the State of Bihar, India) which was the capital of Magadhawhere King Bimbisara ruled, begging alms. Seeing the imposing posture of the ascetic, the people of Rajagahainformed the king of the new comer. King Bimbisara, after questioning found out the true identity of the ascetic and offered his kingdom. Declining the offer with compassion, Ascetic Gautama promised to make his first visit to Rajagahaafter the Enlightenment. 
Resuming his journey, Ascetic Gautama went first to Alara Kalama and then to Uddakaramapuththa for guidance. They were the most eminent intellectuals at the time. 
He learnt everything that they were able to teach and became proficient in concentration (samatha) meditation. But, AsceticGautama was not satisfied and he knew that their teachings were not enough and would not give the ultimate solution of eliminating the suffering. Despite the request by both sages to take over their institutions after them, Ascetic Gautama left seeking the Eternal Bliss, ‘Nirvana’.

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He was wandering in searching for a place to practice his ascetic life when he came to the peaceful Uruvela Senanigama (present day where the Bodhgaya Thai temple is situated, in the State of Bihar).

The place was ideal for an ascetic life since it was a flat area with a forest of lush greenery and the clear waters of riverNeranjana flowing through it providing shelter and a bathing spot. In the vicinity, not too far or too near, were villages with peaceful folk to whom an ascetic could go for alms. The five ascetics (Kondanna, Bhaddiya, Wappa, Mahanama, Assaji), who were the sons of the Brahmins, who named PrinceSiddhartha too joined him. It is said that they had been brought up in the palace itself and King Suddhodhana sent them to join his son to protect him and care for him.

Prince Siddhartha

Here, Ascetic Gautama practiced asceticism to the extreme for six years, starving himself to the highest degree. His flesh dissolved and only the skin was left to cover the bone structure. 
When six years of self-starvation didn’t bring the Enlightenment, Ascetic Gautama resorted to the ‘Middle path’ (neither attaching oneself to sensual pleasures nor give excessive agony to the body). He followed this ‘path’ the rest of his life and taught others to do so too.
The five ascetics became disappointed by Ascetic Gautama’s decision and left him. They were sure that he would not attain the Enlightenment as expected by following in this new direction. They left to the Deer Park at Isipathana in Benares(Present day Saranath at Varanasi on the Western Banks of river Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, India).                            


Sujatha Devi

Near the river Neranjana, there was a banyan tree famously known as ‘Ajapala’. The villagers came here to worship the god of the tree. It was suppose to be a very miraculous tree. On the day that Ascetic Gautama sat under this tree meditating, a young woman named Sujatha came to fulfill a vow with specially made milk rice in a golden bowl. Mistaking the Ascetic to be the god of the tree, she offered the milk rice with great reverence. This was Ascetic Gautama’s last meal before the Enlightenment and seven weeks of contemplation after that.


The bowl went upstream

After partaking the meal, Ascetic Gautama, threw the empty bowl on to the middle of the river saying that if he attains Buddha hood that day, let the bowl go upstream, if not, let it go down stream. The bowl went upstream.

Sri Maha Bodhi

He went to Gaya (Present day Bodhgaya, Gaya District, Bihar, India) looking for a suitable place to start meditation. He found a ‘peepul’ tree (Ficus Religiosa which was native to South Asia and belonged to the fig / mulberry family). He sat under it cross legged with his back to the tree and made a firm resolution not to get up until he attained the Enlightenment.


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It was the eve of the Wesak Full moon day. The AsceticGautama started the ‘Anapanasati’ (Breathing) meditation.

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During the first part of the night, the evil one (Mara) came with his army to defeat the Ascetic’s objective by frightening him and when they were unable to do so, sent his three daughters to lure the Ascetic. (Some say that it was not beings who came to fight him, but his own evil thoughts of desire, craving, attachment & fear which crept into his mind.) 

But, Ascetic Gautama’s strong determination beat them all.
He found the power of seeing his past lives as the first step to Enlightenment. (pubbe -nivāsanussati Gnana)
In the second part of the night, Ascetic Gautama realized the impermanence of life. How the karmic effects of a being takes him through the ‘Life – Death Cycle’ (Samsara) over and over again.
He found the power of seeing everything from all sides and distances. (dibba-cakkhu Gnana)
In the third part of the night, Ascetic Gautama realized the Four Noble Truths and found the power of extinction of all mental intoxicants. (āsavakkhaya Gnana)
Thus, attaining The Enlightenment (The Buddha hood) on the Wesak Full Moon day!

Lord Gautama Buddha


Bodhgaya


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PostPosted: Thu 7 Feb - 09:36 (2013)    Post subject: Buddha's life Reply with quote

Our Gautama Buddha was 35 years when he attained Buddha Hood.
For seven weeks after attaining the Enlightenment, our Gautama Buddha spent under, and in the vicinity of, the ‘Sri Maha Bodhi Tree’ (the peepul tree came to be known thus, as a result of giving shelter to Ascetic Gautama to attain Buddha hood; ‘Bodhi’ meaning ‘Enlightenment”), reminiscing about the Buddhist canon (Dharma), meditating and relaxing in the ultimate peace.

Gautama Buddha spent time under the Sri Maha Bodhi tree

In the first week, our Gautama Buddha spent time under the Sri Maha Bodhi tree just the way he attained Enlightenment; sitting cross- legged going through the exhilaration of finding the ultimate solution to end the suffering. He enjoyed the pleasure of liberation the entire week. By the end of the week, he had methodically contemplated, in the direct and the reverse orders, on the “Dependant Origination” (Patikkha Samuppada) & “Cause and Effect”.
During the second week, he stood facing the Sri Maha Bodhi tree, gazing at it without blinking, to show his gratitude for giving him shelter to attain Buddha hood. (This is the first moral lesson Buddha taught the world silently, only with his action; GRATITUDE)
Gautama Buddha saw from his divine eye that some gods in the heavenly planes were not sure about his Enlightenment since he was still living under the Bodhi tree. Therefore, he created a golden bridge in the air and walked
up and down on it for a whole week to convince them, contemplating his new found knowledge all the time.                                                             
In the fourth week, Gautama Buddha created a jeweled chamber on to the North Western direction of the Sri Maha Bodhi tree and sitting inside, started to reflect on the seven expositions of “Abhidhamma” (Higher doctrine).
Contemplation on the first six expositions did not feel weighty, intense or sensitive to the intellectual mind of the Gautama Buddha and he didn’t feel much happiness by reflecting upon them. But the seventh exposition was profound and difficult; when our Buddha started to contemplate it, his wholesome mind started to move freely bringing him happiness akin to the exhilaration a bird feels when released from its cage. Gautama Buddha’s blood was cleansed, bringing his whole body to a luminescent state. Light emitted from his body akin to a fire. Blue rays were released from his hair and bluish places of his eyes; from the skin & the yellowish places of the eyes, emanated the yellow rays; red rays were produced from his blood, flesh and reddish places of his eyes; white rays were emitted from his bones, teeth and the whitish places of his eyes; when all these colours blended, the orange colour was formed.
These colours are used in the Buddhist flag which was designed in 1885 by the “Colombo Committee”, Colombo, Sri Lanka. Each colour symbolizes one or more noble qualities of our Buddha;
Blue – Loving Kindness, Peace & Universal Compassion
Yellow- The Middle Path
Red- The Blessings of Practice – accomplishment, wisdom, morality, prosperity & nobility
White- The purity of Dhamma
Orange- The Buddha’s teachings

Buddhist Flag

 

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In the fifth week, our Gautama Buddha spent his time seated cross-legged immersed in the ‘Bliss of Liberation’ (Vimukthi Sukha) under a banyan tree known as ‘Ajapala’ in the vicinity of the Sri Maha Bodhi tree. A very proud Brahmin, who was passing by, stopped near our Buddha and inquired regarding the qualities of a true Brahmin. Our Gautama Buddha said that a person could be called a real Brahmin if he is rid of evil traits, pride & attachment with worldly life; is learned, self restrained & spotless and follows a holy path.

The serpent king ‘Muchalinda’


The serpent king ‘Muchalinda’

At the beginning of the sixth week, it started raining heavily. The serpent king ‘Muchalinda’, from the nearby lake of the same name, came and coiled himself around the Buddha and provided shelter with his huge hood. For the entire seventh week, our Gautama Buddha meditated under the Serpent’s protection near the lake.
During the seventh week, Gautama Buddha spent under a type of banyan tree named Rajayathana, meditating. At the end of the week, two wandering merchants, Thapassu & Balluka offered roasted rice (similar to popcorn) & bees’ honey to our Gautama Buddha becoming the first devotees taking refuge in Buddha & his teachings (Two Jewels since the Sangha clan had not been established by that time). 


Girihadu seya

They were given a handful of his locks by the Buddha for veneration, which they deposited in a jeweled canister. The two merchants took this canister everywhere they went and paid great reverence to it. In Heladiva (Sri Lanka), they had slept keeping the canister on a rock for its protection. The following morning, before resuming their journey, they had tried to take the canister from the rock to no avail. It had stuck on the rock. Thapassu & Balluka knew that it was the right place for it and made a mound with soil and stones covering the canister, which became the first stupa in the world. It was given the name “Girihadu Seya”.  It has been renovated along the centuries by various kings and still stands on top of a rock with beautiful surroundings at Thiriyaya in the Trincomalee District, Eastern Province of Sri Lanka.
Our Gautama Buddha was disheartened when he considered teaching his new found, complicated spiritual discoveries, to the people who were full of defilements. But, his divine eye made him realize otherwise. This made him accept Maha Brahma Sahampathi’s request to preach his teachings to the world.

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His first consideration was his former teachers Alara Kalama & Uddakaramapuththa. But, they were dead by that time. Therefore, he went in search of the five ascetics who helped him during his six years of self-starvation to the Deer Park atIsipathana in Benares (Present day Saranath at Varanasi on the Western Banks of river Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, India).
The ascetics, seeing Gautama Buddha approach them, decided to ignore him. They thought that he was coming for their help again since he had failed to attain the Enlightenment.

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They showed disinterest when Gautama Buddha explained his new found knowledge and hesitated to believe that he had attained Buddha-Hood. But when our Buddha kept on expounding the Four Noble Truths earnestly, they could not reject him anymore. Thus, Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon “Dhamma Chakka Pawaththana Sutta” which meant ‘setting in motion the wheel of Dhamma’, regarding the Four Noble Truths, which was the essence of Buddhism. At the conclusion, Kondanna attained ‘Sothapaththi’ (Stream Enterer), the first step towards Enlightenment.
Impressed by the Buddha’s teachings, they became the first ordained monks of our Gautama Buddha’s Order. Bhaddiya, Wappa, Mahanama & Assaji too attained ‘Sothapaththi’ following Buddha’s advice. All of them attained Enlightenment (Arahanth hood) after hearing the “Anantha Lakkhana Sutta” (Philosophy of soullessness). Millions of beings from the heavenly planes too attained Enlightenment hearing Buddha’s sermons.
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