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History Of Buddha


Buddha Giant Bronze Statue Kamakura Japan


  • We do not know exactly when the Buddha lived, although it is very likely he lived between the 5th and 4th centuries BCE. According to the histories written several hundred years after his death, the Buddha, born Siddhartha Gautama, was from a small kingdom in modern southern Nepal. It’s very likely he did not speak Sanskrit or Pali (which is the language of later Buddhists from Sri Lanka) but rather a dialect called Magadhi. Magadhi was similar to Sanskrit and borrowed many Sanskrit words and grammars but was a distinct language of its own. Siddhartha Gautama grew up in an isolated palace where his father sheltered from all the bad things in the world, fearing that his son would take up the path of renunciation and enter the forest to become an ascetic. As an ascetic, he would no longer be a prince or possess any title other than those given to holy men. His father would then be heirless. Gautama’s heritage was the Shakya clan, hence the title he comes to inherit, Shakyamuni, literally means “sage of the Shakyas.” In his teens, he married a woman named Yashodhara and had a son named Rahula. But all this was prior to the existence of Buddhism as he had not yet become the Buddha.
  • It was predicted that young Siddartha would either become a great king or a great religious leader. Out of fear that his son would take up the religious life, the king shielded his son from all worldly ills. Locking Siddhartha up in the enormous palace of Kapilavastu, Siddhartha did not venture forth to see society as it truly was--that is, full of suffering--until his late twenties. Growing up inside of the palace, the prince was given every creature comfort one could imagine. Not only is he regal in every sense, the prince was extremely gifted in all of the fine arts, in all of the sciences, and easily mastered all of the most difficult texts. Seeing his son grow into the perfect young royal prince, Siddhartha's father grew wary of the prediction that he would become a great religious mendicant. Thus, Siddhartha was confined to the palace and he was shielded from all of the outside world's troubles.
  • At the age of 29, the prince strongly wished to leave the palace and see his kingdom, including his future royal subjects. Despite previously disallowing his son to leave the palace, the prince's father setup a carefully planned farce so that the prince would only see happiness and health in abundance. Traveling outside of the walls, the prince did see only healthy royal subjects. However, through an ironic twist of divine fate, Siddhartha saw an old man. Asking his charioteer what this sickly creature was, the charioteer told the prince about the limits of the human body. Later, seeing a sick man, the charioteer relayed the fragility of the human body. Still yet later, the prince saw a dead man. Again, the charioteer told the prince about how all life ends in such a way. On a last trip outside of the palace, the prince saw a religious mendicant, described as a shramana dressed in an orange robe. The prince soon learned that the shramana knew of a way out of these three disgusting human sights: liberation. In the earliest full biography of the Buddha, Ashvaghosha's Buddhacarita, the shramana performs the miracle of flight after talking with the Buddha-to-be. Inspired, the prince escapes the palace at night and enters the forest to seek enlightenment as a naked ascetic.



Giant Buddha Carved Stone Image At Yungang Grottoes Datang China