A lazy saturday noon saw me at the library. Initially I buried myself in newspapers replete with the “war-details”., and also dealing with the personal finance. After browsing through the shelves of all sections, took out a couple of books for “scan-reading”, and lazy that I was feeling, I spent sometime in library itself reading those.
Before I left the library, I lay my hands upon “Buddha for Beginners”, buried in which I spent the rest of the day. The book dealt with the life of buddha, and the evolution and history of buddhism upto this century. It also graphically covered the spread of buddhism, from india to Srilanka, Myanmar(Burma), Tibet, South-East Asia, and via Silk route to China and from there to Japan., and its decline not only in the country of its origin, India, but also in other countries.
I had already read “The Historical Buddha” some time back, which dwelt on the life of Buddha, based on historical evidences, cutting short the mythical association which crept into the buddhist scriptures, and which assigned buddha a “godly” stature. Simple logic and practicality seems to be the main reason for the revival of Buddhism, which is happening now.
Here’s a brief overview of the life of Buddha :
Born in Sakya clan of northern india, Siddhartha-Gotama was groomed to become a king. His mother Maya died soon after the birth of Siddhartha, and he was taken care by stepmother(who also was Maya’s sister) and his father King Suddhodhana. An astrologer predicted that either Siddhartha will become a great King, else will become an ascetic monk and will be revered by even Gods. King Suddhodhana didnt want his son to become an ascetic., and hence brought him up with all the luxuries provided for. Whenever the prince ventured out, the king ordered the sick, ill and old aged people to be out of the sight of the prince. But fate had to take its turn. Accidental meetings with Sick, old aged people, a dead body and a calm monk set the price thinking about life.
To find an answer to the questions that life posed, he left his pregnant wife Yashodhara, and kingdom in search of truth. He wandered many years practising various austerities prevalent at that time, to find an answer to the mysteries of life. Finally he gave up all the austerities and sat below a Bodhi Tree and decided not to get up from there unless he found the answeres to life.
The determination paid off the seventh day. The memories of past life came to him, the enternal truth unfolded in front of his eyes. He became Buddha – an enlightned one. His search had come to an end. He got all the answers to the life. Gotama-the Buddha preached his philosophy to his fellow ascetics, whom he had left earlier. This was the corner stone of whole buddhism. This sermon was known as the Deer park sermon.
Buddha preached the Four noble truths:
- Life is suffering
- Desire is the origin of Suffering
- Desire can be ended
- The noble eight-fold path helps in that
- Right Understanding
- Right Aspiration
- Right Speech
- Right Action
- Right Livelihood
- Right Effort
- Right Mindfullness
- Right Concentration
The eight fold path consists of :
The fellow ascetics to whom he preached this became his first disciples. Rest of his life Buddha wandred as a monk, teaching his philosophy. He died at an old age, and his last words were “O monks, this is my last advice to you. All things in this world are impermanent(undergoing permanent change). They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation.” Lying down, he turned to one side and attained Mahaparinibbana(the final extinguishion)