This report will be about the life of Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, and his influences on the people around him. It will explain how the religion of Buddhism came about and how the Buddha created it. It will also include not only what influenced Buddha to start preaching, but what influenced the people to listen.
Prince Siddhartha Gautama
, who would later be known as Buddha
, was born in Lumbini, Nepal around the year 563 BC. He was the son of two important great people. Siddhartha's father's name was Shuddhodana, the King of the Sakyas. His mother, Queen Maya, was a lady "of perfect form and bee-black tresses, fearless in heart and full of grace and virtue." Siddhartha got his name from one of his mother's dreams. Her dream was that an elephant with 6 tusks, carrying a lotus flower in its trunk, touched the right side of Queen Maya's body. That was when Siddhartha was miraculously conceived. When she told her husband about her dream, he called Brahmins, or learned men to interpret it. They predicted that the child one-day would be the greatest king in the world or the greatest ascetic in the world. So that's why they called him Siddhartha, meaning "he whose aim is accomplished." When Siddhartha was about 20 years old he married Yasodhara, who was the daughter of one of the King's ministers. Siddhartha and his new wife had a child a year after they got married. They called their son Rahula, which means "impediment."
Nine years later Siddhartha asked his charioteer to take him for a ride throughout the city. While riding he saw three things he had never seen before. One was an elder man, another was a man suffering from illness, and finally he saw a dead body surrounded by mourners. Since he had never seen anything like that before he asked his charioteer, Channa, what was wrong. He responded and told the Prince that these things were natural and unavoidable, that happen to all kinds of people. "Everything is transient; nothing in permanent in this world....Knowing that, I can find delight in nothing...How can a man, who knows that death is quite inevitable, still feel greed in his heart, enjoy the world of senses and not weep in this great danger?" Once again Siddhartha asked Channa to take him out into the city again and this time he was to see the last of four images that would change his life forever. The last sight he saw was a wandering old holy man with no possessions. His head was completely shaved and he was wearing a yellow robe. The Prince stopped and talked to him. The holy man said some inspiring words to the Prince. When Siddhartha got home that night he kissed his family goodbye and ordered his charioteer to take him out of the city. When he came to the edge of a forest he got rid of his prized possessions, shaved his head and beard, put on the yellow robe of the old man, and gave his clothes and jewelry to Channa and told him to bring it back to his father. According to legend he left his family and wealth to find the cause of human misery.
Next Siddhathra traveled throughout the northeastern portion of India, seeking out holy men, who taught him ancient Indian techniques of meditation. Even though meditation was important to him, his main quest was to find the answer to the problem of suffering. He wanted to know why they were suffering and how this suffering could stop. So Siddhartha studied the teachings of Hinduism. He was very fascinated by the belief of reincarnation or Samsara. This was the belief of the soul, after death, would travel to a new body-being born again. Depending on the person's previous life, its soul could enter a body of higher or lower state of existence. The determining factor of a soul's new existence is how the person lived his last life. This is called Karma. Siddhartha found this very interesting, so he adopted a life of self-denial and penance's, meditating constantly.
After many other complications, like fasting for several years, Siddhartha was enlightened. The experience of enlightenment was really the beginning of the history of Buddhism, the religion. This is when Siddhartha became the Buddha, which means "the enlightened one." As the Buddha, he experienced Nirvana, which is the condition of wanting nothing. Buddha found this as a way of ending suffering, so he shared his enlightenment with others so that all living souls could end the cycles of their own rebirth and suffering.
Siddhartha revealed to people that he was the Buddha by showing them the Wheel of Life. He would take a handful of rice grains and draw wheel on the ground, which represented the way that the soul lives on and on after death. This preaching was called his Deer Park Sermon, or "Setting in Motion the Wheel of Doctrine." Next, the Buddha explained the four Noble Truths, which are: 1) Suffering consists of disease, old age, and death; separation from those we love; craving what we cannot have; and hating which we cannot avoid. 2) All suffering is caused by desire and the attempt to satisfy our desires. 3) Therefore, suffering can be overcome by ceasing to desire. 4) The way to end desire is to follow the Eightfold Path. (This path is a series of eight stages that leads to the end of desire.)
In his teachings, the Buddha learned many elements of the Hinduism of this time, including the teachings of Samsara and Karma. However, Buddha differed from Hinduism in some important aspects. For example the Buddha opposed the animal sacrifices. Hinduism made much use of animal sacrifices to various gods, because this was the way that the Hindu's thought they would reach Nirvana. Angered, Buddha told his followers not to kill any living creatures for any reason. He also questioned the Hindu idea of the soul. He denied that there was any personal, eternal soul. Instead Buddha compared the soul and body to a cart. He said that it was composed of different parts and only when they were together did they make a cart. So Buddha taught that an individual is composed of five elements called Skandhas, which were constantly in a state of change. The Skandhas were: form and matter, sensations, ideas, emotions, and consciousness. The Buddha said that by following the Eightfold Path that a person would forget his or her own false idea of self, and achieve Nirvana.
Because of the simplicity of the Buddha's teachings, its significance on personal action, and the Buddha's opposition to the caste system, he soon won himself many followers. Like other religious teachers, he usually used stories or parables to explain his beliefs.
Around the year 483 BC Buddha past away, at age eighty. He was fed a meal by a blacksmith, which caused him to become very ill. He died in the village of Kushinagara, under a grove of shala trees. Just before his death many people crowded around him and asked their final questions to him. His last words were: "Everything that has been created is subject to decay and death. Everything is transitory. Work out your own salvation with diligence." Then after passing through several states of meditation, he died. Buddha had in motion a religious movement that would spread throughout the world and still remains a vital force 2500 years after his death.
Buddha was one of the greatest human beings, a man of great character, magnificent vision, warm compassion, and a profound thought. Not only did he establish a new religion, but his revolt against the Hindu religion influenced Hindu itself. But Buddha's teachings have not only influenced the Hindus, they have influenced the lives of millions of people for nearly 2500 years.