Gautama Buddha - The Light of Your Life

Gautama Buddha - The Light of Your Life

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Buddhist Literature
The literature of Buddhism is abundant. It falls into two main parts that correspond with the division of Buddhist doctrine into its two main schools, the Theravada (or Hinayana) and the Mahayana. The Theravada scriptures are written in Pali and are generally known either as the Pali Canon or the Triptika, usually translated as 'The Three Baskets'. The 'baskets' respectively contain a collection of the Buddha's reported sayings and sermons and discussions of philosophical issues in Buddhism. Mahayana literature was originally written in Sanskrit but many of those originals were lost after their transmission to China and Tibet. Theravada prevails in the southern part of the Buddhist world and is the national religion of Sri Lanka, Burma and Thailand. Mahayana doctrines are dominant in Nepal, Korea, China, Japan and Tibet.
Photo_of_Gautam_Buddha_in_Meditation

Gautama Buddha

Among the greatest religious teachers of the world who gave the message of truth, peace, humanity and equality, Gautam Buddha is the foremost. He founded 'Buddhism', one of world's leading religions. It is followed in china, Japan, Burma and the countries of South East Asia. Buddha meaning 'Awakened one' or 'Enlightened one', is a title and not a proper name. Gautama Buddha is the light of your life.





Gautam Buddha was born in 563 BC, in the Lumbini forests in Nepalese Terai. His father's name was Suddodana, who was the ruler of Kapilavastu and the chief of the Sakya clan. His mother's name was Mahamaya. Gautam Buddha's childhood name was Siddhartha, which means 'He who has reached his goal'. Buddha was a child with a contemplative bent of mind. The young prince was brought to great luxury. However, his father always worried that, his son might leave home to become a wandering ascetic as the Brahmans had predicted. He took every care to influence him in favour of a worldly life. He was married at the age of 16, to a beautiful princess Yashodhara.

The turning point in prince Sidhartha's life came when he was 29 years old. One day, while he was out, driving with his charioteer, he saw an aged man, as bent as a roof gable. Another day, again driving with his charioteer, he saw a sick man, suffering and very ill. On a third occasion, the prince saw a dead body. His charioteer had provided him the explanations on all the three occasions. Now life seemed too long a holiday for him.

The turning point in prince Siddhartha's life came when he was 29 years old. One day, while he was out, driving with his charioteer, he saw an aged man, as bent as a roof gable. Another day, again driving with his charioteer, he saw a sick man, suffering and very ill. On a third occasion, the prince saw a dead body. His charioteer had provided him the explanations on all the three occasions. Now life seemed too long a holiday for him.

Miseries of old age, dying sickmen and mysteries of death, puzzled and haunted Buddha's thoughts. He felt that this life was an imitation cover only. The actual was missing and he must look for the real. He realized the inevitability of old age, sickness and death. He thus became aware of the suffering, implicit in existence. He resolved on 'the great renunciation', to give up the princely life and become a wandering ascetic. He departed from the palace, leaving his wife and infant son behind, and went south to the Magadha kingdom, in search of teachers to instruct him in the way of truth. With two of them, he attained mystical states of elevated consciousness, but, unsatisfied with these states, he continued his search for truth. He was joined by five ascetics at a beautiful grove near Uruvela, where he practiced severe austerities and self-mortifications for nearly six years. When he fainted in weakness, he gave up ascetic practices to seek his way to enlightenment. This he accomplished soon afterward. At the age of 35, Siddhartha got enlightenment at Bodh Gaya.

Siddhartha got transformed into 'Buddha' or 'enlightened', and the pipal tree, under which he got enlightenment became 'Bodhi Tree'. Buddha delivered his first sermon at Sarnath called 'Turning of the Wheel of Law'. Buddha taught that, the root cause of mankind's suffering is desire. Siddhartha did not hold that the development of a life is rigidly and wholly determined by the physical events that are the consequences of karma.
Photo_of_Gautam_Buddha_in_Meditation
Instead he taught that it is intentions, motives and volitions that are decisive for the karma of a future life. The essence of Buddha's initial sermon was stated to be the Four Great Truths :
  1. life is fundamentally disappointment and suffering
  2. Unhappiness is the result of happiness, power and desires for continued existence
  3. To curb despair and sorrow one's desire must be curbed. And
  4. Thus, suffering one must Noble Eight fold Path (ashtangika marga)—right views, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right awareness, and right concentration.
The realization of the truth of no eternal self and the law of dependent origination, was taught as essential for the indescribable state of release called 'nirvana' (blowing out).

Buddha attacked some religious practices as well as social practices in his time. He refused to recognize the religious significance of the caste system, that was a long established and respected institution in India, and recognized the religious potential of men and women of all social ranks. he also recognized the connection between economic welfare and moral development. According to the Buddha, trying to suppress crime through punishment was futile. Poverty, was the cause of immorality and crime; therefore, the economic condition of people should be improved.

Buddha attained nirvana in Kushinagar (U.P.) in 483 BC. He resolved to teach other men, what he had discovered about the reality and the means of transcending the human conditions. Buddha spent his life spreading his teachings, making converts to the religious truths and beliefs he propounded, and training large numbers of learned, well-disciplined followers to continue the work after his death. Before his soul rested in peace, he uttered his famous last words : 'Be you lamps unto yourselves, Hold fast to the Truth as a lamp, look not for refuge to anyone beside yourselves.'

Buddha was a man of great wisdom and great compassion, one who was moved by the spectacle of human suffering and was determined to teach his fellow human beings, how, that suffering could be confronted and overcome.

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