Gautama Buddha was a spiritual teacher and the founder of Buddhism. He is also known as Shakyamuni/Sakyamuni. He is believed to have existed around 563BCE to 483BCE.
Siddhartha was born at Lumbini in modern day Nepal. His father was King Suddhodana, the Chief of the Shakya nation and his mother was Queen Maya, a Koliyan Princess. Buddha’s mother died soon after his birth. He was given the name ‘Siddhartha’ or ‘one who achieves his aim.’
At the age of 29, Siddhartha left his palace to become an ascetic. After many trials and tribulations he achieved enlightenment at the age of 35. After that he was known as ‘Buddha’ or ‘The Enlightened One’. This was reputedly achieved by sitting under a Pipal tree and meditating for 45 days. The Pipal tree is referred to by his followers as the Bodhi tree. It was situated in present day Bodhgaya.
Teachings of Gautama Buddha There are different opinions between Buddhist sects to what constitute the true teachings of Gautama Buddha. But they all agree on the following:
- Four Noble Truths: 1.Suffering is inherent in existence 2.Origin of suffering is ignorance 3.Symptoms of that existence are attachment and craving 4.Following the Noble Eightfold path will lead to the absence of attachment and craving and therefore suffering.
- The Noble Eightfold Path: Right understanding, right thought,right speech,right action,right livelihood,right effort,right mindfulness and right concentration.
- The Concept of Dependent Origination: Any phenomena exists only because of another phenomena:it is a complexity of cause and effect sweeping through past,present and future times. As all things are transient (anicca) they have no real identity (anatta).
- Rejection of infallibility of scriptures:Teachings should not be taken if they do not correlate with experience and praised by knowledgeable persons
- Anicca (or in sanskrit-anitya) That all things are temporary
- Anatta (sanskrit: anatman) Perception of self is illusory
- Dukkha(sanskrit:dukha) An unclear mind leads to suffering in all people
Gautama Buddha laid stress on ethics and proper understanding. The Buddhist ideal of insight,thought and meditation practice is revealed only by understanding the true nature of the mind; which can be discovered by anybody.
According to Mahaparinibbana Sutta of the Pali canon, Buddha entered Parinirvana or the final deathless state abandoning the earthly body when he was 80 years old. Historians have fixed the date as approximately 544 or 543BC.
The day of Gautama Buddha’s birth is widely celebrated in Buddhist countries as Vesak.