Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Enlightenment One day Siddhartha, now 35 years old, was seated beneath a large pipal tree on the outskirts of Gaya (now Bodh Gaya). He made a solemn vow that, though 'his bones may waste away and his blood dry up, he would not leave his seat until the riddle of suffering was Solved. He withstood fear and the temptations of desire, passion, pleasure, and material power (symbolised by Mara, the devil in Buddhist thought). At the dawn of the 49th day he knew the truth. He had found the secret of sorrow, and understood at last why the world is full of suffering, and what man must do to.overcome them. He was fully enlightened-a Buddha. For another seven weeks he re­mained under the Tree of Wisdom (Bodhivriksha), meditating on the great truth he had found.

For a time he doubted whether he should proclaim his wisdom to the world, as it was so recondite and difficult to express that few would understand it; ultimately, leaving the Tree of Wisdom, he journeyed to the Deer Park (the modern Sarnath) near Varanasi, where his five former disciples had settled to continue their penances, To these five ascetics the Buddha preached his first sermon, or "set in I]\otion the Whe~l qfth~ Law". Soon his nam~ was, well­known throllghout the Ganga plC!.in, al\d the greatest kings of the time favoured him .and his followers. He gathered together, a disciplined body of monks, called bhikshus ('beggar?'), knit together Py tre y~Uow robes of the order and a common discipline.

Buddha returned to Kapilavastu, and converted his- father, wife and son Raflul, and other members of the court, i[l<::luding his cousin IJevadatta, ,.wh.ose _heart, however, remained (ultof jealousy. At the request of his foster-mother and aunt, Krishna-Gautazni, he allowed with much misgiv­ing the formation of a community of nuns. According to legend, he averted a war between the Sakyas and the Koliyas, by walking between the assembled armies and convincing them of the uselessness and evil of bloodshed. He went alone to the camp of the notorious bandit, Angulimal, and converted him and his followers from their evil ways. There is no record, however, of his healing the sick by sup~rnatural means.

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