Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Buddhism : Life of Buddha

Life of Buddha About 566 BC, a son was born to Suddhodhana, a chief of the Sakyas (a small clan in the Nepal terai) and his chief queen, Mahamaya. The birth took place in a grove of sal trees at Lumbini (now in Nepal) near the capital of the Sakyas, Kapilavastu. The boy was named Siddhartha, his gotra being Gautama.

Four Signs One day, as he was driving around the royal park with his charioteer Channa, he saw an aged man, in the last stages of infirmity and decrepitude. When he learned that all men must grow old he was troubled in mind. The second sign that was to decide his career came in the form of a very sick man, covered with boils and shivering with fever. The third was even more terrible-­a corpse, being carried to the cremation ground, followed by weeping mourners; But the fourth sign brought hope and consolation-a wandering religious beggar, clad in a simple yellow robe, peaceful and calm.

Renunciation Yasodhara gave birth to his son Rahul, but it gave him no pleasure. That night there were great festivities, but when all were sleeping Siddhartha roused Channa, who saddled his favourite horse Kanthaka, and he rode off into the night. When far from the city he stripped
History of India. 35 ()ff his jewellery and fin~garments, and put on a hermit's robe. The horse Kanthaka is said to have dropped dead from grief. Thus Siddhartha performed his 'Great Going For$' (Mahabhinishkramana) and became a wandering as­cetic; ownil1g .nothing ,but the robe he wore.

At first he begged for his food. as a wanderer, but he soon gave up this life for that o£ a forest hermit. From a sage,.Alana Kalama, he learned the technique of meditation, ilnd ,the lore of Brahman as taught il1 the Upanishads; but he was not convinced that man could obtain liberation from sorrow Py. mental discipline and knowledge. So he joined forces with five ascetics who were .practising the most r~gorous self-mortification in the hope of wearing away their karma and obtaining final bliss. His penances became so severe that the five quickly recognised him as their leader. For si~ years he tortured himself until he was nothing but a walking skeleton. But he realised that his fasts and penances were useless. He again began to beg for~food, and his body regained its strength. The five disciples left him i!1 disgust at what they thought was a step backward.

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