Gautam Buddha was one of the greatest spiritual leaders of the world who conveyed the message of truth, serenity, humankind and equality. His theories and preaching became the base of Buddhism, one of world’s leading religions, followed by most people in Japan, China, and Burma etc. He is believed to have been born in Lumbini forests in Nepalese Terai in the sixth century B.C. to Suddhodana, ruler of Kapilvastu. Before he became the Enlightened Buddha, he was called Siddharth.
Siddharth was a child with a very insightful mind and was influenced towards meditation and spiritual pursuits which was much against the wishes of his father. His father feared that Siddharth might leave home, and so, secluded him from the harsh realities of the outside world by keeping him inside the palace all the time. He even arranged his marriage with a beautiful princess named Yashodhara when he was 18. They gave birth to a son named Rahul. But all the worldly pleasures could not change the mind of young Siddharth to pursue divinity.
The Buddhist traditions states that the idea of renunciation came to Gautam Buddha’s mind when he came across an old man bent with age, a sick person shivering with fever and a dead body being carried to the cremation ground followed by weeping relations and finally a wandering monk, peaceful and calm radiating inward joy. On seeing all these, Siddhartha realized how short lived is worldly passions and pleasures and learnt where his destiny lay, setting his heart on becoming a wanderer. Soon after, Buddha left his family and Kingdom wandered from place to place in search of knowledge. He met many scholars and saints but he was not happy from within.
At last Gautam Buddha started hard meditation bearing great physical suffering. After six years of wandering and meditation, Siddharth received enlightenment while meditating under a peepal tree in the town of Ganges situated in Bihar. Siddharth got transformed into Buddha or the enlightened one at the age of the thirty five. The peepal tree under which he got Enlightment came to be known as Bodhi Vriksha.
Buddha finally achieved what he wished for. He preached his first sermon in Sarnath, near Varanasi. He taught that the world is full of sorrows and people suffer on account of desire. Hence desires needed to be conquered by following Eightfold Path. Of these eight paths, the first three would ensure physical control, the next two ensures mental control, and the last two would ensure intellectual development.
Buddha taught that the final goal of every Buddhist is the attainment of ‘Nirvana’. ‘Nirvana’ could be attained neither by prayer nor by sacrifice. It can be achieved by right kind of living and thinking. Buddha did not speak of God and his teachings constitute more of a philosophy and system of ethics than a religion. Buddhism affirms the law of Karma by which a person’s action in life determines his status in future incarnations.
Buddhism is identified with the principles of non-violence. The Tripitika’ is a collection of Buddha’s teachings, life and philosophical discourses on the teachings and the commentaries. Buddha attained his Nirvana in Khushinagar (U.P.) in 483 B.C.
After spreading his message to the world successfully, Buddha died at the age of 80 years in 483 BC at Kushinagar, India. Today, Buddhism has a strong following in various Asian countries and is gradually finding its feet in some of the western countries as well.