Siddhartha Gautama, the Lord Buddha, was born in 623 B.C. in the famous gardens of Lumbini, which soon became a place of pilgrimage. Among the pilgrims was the Indian emperor Ashoka, who erected one of his commemorative pillars there. The site is now being developed as a Buddhist pilgrimage centre, where the archaeological remains associated with the birth of the Lord Buddha form a central feature. The Lord Buddha was born in 623 BC in the sacred area of Lumbini located in the Terai plains of southern Nepal, testified by the inscription on the pillar erected by the Mauryan Emperor Asoka in 249 BC. Lumbini is one of the holiest places of one of the world's great religions, and its remains contain important evidence about the nature of Buddhist pilgrimage centers from as early as the 3rd century BC.
The complex of structures within the archaeological conservation area includes the Shakya Tank; the remains within the Maya Devi Temple consisting of brick structures in a cross-wall system dating from the 3rd century BC to the present century and the sandstone Ashoka pillar with its Pali inscription in Brahmi script. Additionally there are the excavated remains of Buddhist viharas (monasteries) of the 3rd century BC to the 5th century AD and the remains of Buddhist stupas (memorial shrines) from the 3rd century BC to the 15th century AD. The site is now being developed as a Buddhist pilgrimage centre, where the archaeological remains associated with the birth of the Lord Buddha form a central feature
Siddhartha was born in a royal Hindu family. He was brought up by his mother's younger sister, Maha Pajapati. By tradition, he is said to have been destined by birth to the life of a prince, and had three palaces (for seasonal occupation) built for him. Although more recent scholarship doubts this status, his father, said to be King Śuddhodana, wishing for his son to be a great king, is said to have shielded him from religious teachings and from knowledge of human suffering.
When he reached the age of 16, his father reputedly arranged his marriage to a cousin of the same age named Yaśodharā According to the traditional account; she gave birth to a son, named Rāhula. Siddhartha is said to have spent 29 years as a prince in Kapilavastu. Although his father ensured that Siddhartha was provided with everything he could want or need, Buddhist scriptures say that the future Buddha felt that material wealth was not life's ultimate goal.
The "Great Departure" of Siddhartha Gautama, surrounded by a halo, he is accompanied by numerous guards, maithuna loving couples, and devata who have come to pay homage; Gandhara, Kushan period Prince Siddhartha shaves his hair and becomes an ascetic. Borobudur, 8th century. At the age of 29, the popular biography continues, Siddhartha left his palace to meet his subjects. Despite his father's efforts to hide from him the sick, aged and suffering, Siddhartha was said to have seen an old man. When his charioteer Channa explained to him that all people grew old, the prince went on further trips beyond the palace.
Gautama initially went to Rajagaha and began his ascetic life by begging for alms in the street. After King Bimbisara's men recognized Siddhartha and the king learned of his quest, Bimbisara offered Siddhartha the throne. Siddhartha rejected the offer, but promised to visit his kingdom of Magadha first, upon attaining enlightenment.He left Rajagaha and practised under two hermit teachers of yogic meditation. After mastering the teachings of Alara Kalama, he was asked by Kalama to succeed him.
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The Buddha surrounded by the demons of Māra. Sanskrit palm leaf manuscript. Nalanda in Bihar – Eastern part of India.
According to the early Buddhist texts, after realizing that meditative jhana was the right path to awakening, but that extreme asceticism didn't work, Gautama discovered what Buddhists call the Middle Way - a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification. In a famous incident, after becoming starved and weakened, he is said to have accepted Rice Pudding from a village girl named Sujata. Such was his emaciated appearance that she wrongly believed him to be a spirit that had granted her a wish.
Following this incident, Gautama was famously seated under a Pipal Tree (Ficus religiosa, also known as Bodhi tree) At Bodh Gaya, situated at Bihar - Eastern part of India.
After a reputed 49 days of meditation, at the age of 35, he is said to have attained Enlightenment. According to some traditions, this occurred in approximately the fifth lunar month, while, according to others, it was in the twelfth month. From that time, Gautama was known to his followers as the Buddha or "Awakened One".
After his awakening, He travelled to the Deer Park near Varanasi (Situated at Ganga River, also called Kashi / Benares - Northern part of India) where he set in motion what Buddhists call the Wheel of Dharma by delivering his first sermon to the five companions with whom he had sought enlightenment. Together with him, they formed the first Sangha - The group of followers / The Company of Buddhist monks.
All five become arahants, and within the first two months, with the conversion of Yasa and fifty four of his friends, the number of such arahants is said to have grown to 60. The conversion of three brothers named Kassapa followed, with their reputed 300 and 500 disciples, respectively. This swelled the sangha in to thousands.
I - Suffering and unsatisfactoriness exist
II- The cause of Suffering and unsatisfactoriness exists
III- The cause may be brought to an end
IV- The means whereby this may be achieved: The Noble Eightfold Path
As we have seen, Buddhism begins with the fundamental fact of suffering. But before we can do anything about it, we must know its cause, which is the deeply-rooted sense of 'I' that we all have. Because of this we are always struggling to get things that are pleasurable and avoid things that are painful to find ease and security, and generally to manipulate people and situations to be the way I want them. And because the rest of the world does not necessarily fit in with what I want, we often find ourselves cutting against the general flow of things, and getting hurt and disappointed in the process. Suffering may be therefore brought to an end by transcending this strong sense of 'I' so that we come into greater harmony with things in general. The means of doing this is The Noble Eightfold Path.
I - Right Seeing
II - Right Thought
III - Right Speech
IV - Right Action
V - Right Livelihood
VI - Right Effort
VII - Right Mindfulness
VIII - Right Contemplation
The Wheel is the symbol of the Dharma and is shown with eight spokes which represent the Noble Eightfold Path. Right Seeing is important at the start because if we cannot see the truth of the Four Noble Truths then we can't make any sort of beginning. Right Thought follows naturally from this. 'Right' here means in accordance with the facts: with the way things are - which may be different from how I would like them to be. Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood involve moral restraint refraining from lying, stealing, committing violent acts, earning one's living in a way harmful to others, and things like that.
Right Effort is important because 'I' thrives on idleness, and in any case if we are not prepared to exert ourselves we cannot hope to achieve anything at all. The last two steps of the Path.
Right Mindfulness and Right Contemplation, represent the first footholds on the shore of No-I. They involve meditation.
According to the Mahaparinibbana Sutta of the Pali canon, at the age of 80, the Buddha announced that he would soon reach Parinirvana, or the final deathless state, and abandon his earthly body. After this, the Buddha ate his last meal at Kushinagar, situated in Northern part of India, also called Kushinara in 486 BC, which he had received as an offering from a blacksmith named Chunda. Falling violently ill, Buddha instructed his attendant Ānanda to convince Chunda that the meal eaten at his place had nothing to do with his passing and that his meal would be a source of the greatest merit as it provided the last meal for a Buddha.The Buddha then asked the entire attendant Bhikkhus to clarify any doubts or questions they had. They had none. According to Buddhist scriptures, he then finally entered Parinirvana. The Buddha's final words are reported to have been: "All composite things are perishable. Strive for your own liberation with diligence". His body was cremated and the relics were placed in monuments or stupas, some of which are believed to have survived until the present.