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During the birth celebrations, the hermit seer Asita journeyed from his mountain abode and announced that the child would either become a great king chakravartin or a great sadhu. Suddhodana held a naming ceremony on the fifth day, and invited eight Brahmin scholars to read the future. All gave a dual prediction that the baby would either become a great king or a great holy man. Early texts suggest that Gautama was not familiar with the dominant religious teachings of his time until he left on his religious quest, which is said to have been motivated by existential concern for the human condition.

Maya's dream, Bharhut , c. The infant Buddha taking the Seven Steps. Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara. Siddhartha was brought up by his mother's younger sister, Maha Pajapati. 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.

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Siddhartha Gautama continued to ponder about religious questions. Despite his father's efforts to hide from him the sick, aged and suffering, Gautama is said to have seen an old man. When his charioteer Chandaka Pali : Channa explained to him that all people grew old, the prince went on further trips beyond the palace. On these he encountered a diseased man, a decaying corpse, and an ascetic that inspired him.

Shortly after, Gautama woke up at night and saw his female servants lying in unattractive poses, which shocked him.

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Leaving his servant and horse behind, he journeyed into the woods and changed into monk's robes there, [] though in some other versions of the story, he received the robes from a brahma deity at Anomiya. The now mendicant Gautama began his ascetic life. He went to Rajagaha present-day Rajgir , begging for alms in the streets. After King Bimbisara's men recognised Gautama and the king learned of his quest, Bimbisara offered Gautama a share of his kingdom. Gautama rejected the offer but promised to visit the king's kingdom of Magadha first, upon attaining enlightenment. Siddhartha Gautama left Rajagaha and practised under two teachers of yogic meditation.


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But, once more, he was not satisfied and moved on. According to the early Buddhist texts, [] after realising that meditative dhyana was the right path to awakening , but that extreme asceticism did not work, Gautama discovered what Buddhists know as being, the Middle Way [] —a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification, or the Noble Eightfold Path , as described in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta , which is regarded as the first discourse of the Buddha.

Following this incident, Gautama was famously seated under a pipal tree—now known as the Bodhi tree —in Bodh Gaya , India, when he vowed never to arise until he had found the truth.

After a reputed 49 days of meditation, at the age of 35, he is said to have attained Enlightenment , [] [] and became known as the Buddha or "Awakened One" "Buddha" is also sometimes translated as "The Enlightened One". According to some sutras of the Pali canon, at the time of his awakening he realised complete insight into the Four Noble Truths , thereby attaining liberation from samsara , the endless cycle of rebirth, suffering and dying again.

Nirvana is the extinguishing of the "fires" of desire, hatred, and ignorance, that keep the cycle of suffering and rebirth going. He was concerned that humans were so overpowered by ignorance, greed, and hatred that they could never recognise the path, which is subtle, deep and hard to grasp. The Buddha relented and agreed to teach. After his awakening, the Buddha met Taphussa and Bhallika —two merchant brothers from the city of Balkh in what is currently Afghanistan—who became his first lay disciples. It is said that each was given hairs from his head, which are now claimed to be enshrined as relics in the Shwe Dagon Temple in Rangoon , Burma.

The Buddha intended to visit Asita , and his former teachers, Alara Kalama and Udaka Ramaputta , to explain his findings, but they had already died. He then traveled to the Deer Park near Varanasi Benares in northern 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. 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 The conversion of three brothers named Kassapa followed, with their reputed , and disciples, respectively.

This swelled the sangha to more than 1, For the remaining 45 years of his life, the Buddha is said to have traveled in the Gangetic Plain , in what is now Uttar Pradesh , Bihar , and southern Nepal, teaching a diverse range of people: from nobles to servants, murderers such as Angulimala , and cannibals such as Alavaka. The sangha traveled through the subcontinent, expounding the dharma.

This continued throughout the year, except during the four months of the Vassa rainy season when ascetics of all religions rarely traveled. One reason was that it was more difficult to do so without causing harm to animal life. At this time of year, the sangha would retreat to monasteries, public parks or forests, where people would come to them. The first vassana was spent at Varanasi when the sangha was formed. After this, the Buddha kept a promise to travel to Rajagaha , capital of Magadha , to visit King Bimbisara.

During this visit, Sariputta and Maudgalyayana were converted by Assaji , one of the first five disciples, after which they were to become the Buddha's two foremost followers. Upon hearing of his son's awakening, Suddhodana sent, over a period, ten delegations to ask him to return to Kapilavastu. On the first nine occasions, the delegates failed to deliver the message and instead joined the sangha to become arahants.

The tenth delegation, led by Kaludayi, a childhood friend of Gautama's who also became an arahant , however, delivered the message. Now two years after his awakening, the Buddha agreed to return, and made a two-month journey by foot to Kapilavastu, teaching the dharma as he went. At his return, the royal palace prepared a midday meal, but the sangha was making an alms round in Kapilavastu. Hearing this, Suddhodana approached his son, the Buddha, saying:. That is not the custom of your royal lineage. But it is the custom of my Buddha lineage.

Several thousands of Buddhas have gone by seeking alms. Buddhist texts say that Suddhodana invited the sangha into the palace for the meal, followed by a dharma talk. After this he is said to have become a sotapanna. During the visit, many members of the royal family joined the sangha. The Buddha's cousins Ananda and Anuruddha became two of his five chief disciples.

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At the age of seven, his son Rahula also joined, and became one of his ten chief disciples. His half-brother Nanda also joined and became an arahant. Of the Buddha's disciples, Sariputta, Maudgalyayana , Mahakasyapa , Ananda and Anuruddha are believed to have been the five closest to him. His ten foremost disciples were reputedly completed by the quintet of Upali , Subhoti , Rahula, Mahakaccana and Punna.

In the fifth vassana, the Buddha was staying at Mahavana near Vesali when he heard news of the impending death of his father. He is said to have gone to Suddhodana and taught the dharma, after which his father became an arahant. The king's death and cremation were to inspire the creation of an order of nuns. Buddhist texts record that the Buddha was reluctant to ordain women. His foster mother Maha Pajapati , for example, approached him, asking to join the sangha, but he refused. Maha Pajapati, however, was so intent on the path of awakening that she led a group of royal Sakyan and Koliyan ladies, which followed the sangha on a long journey to Rajagaha.

In time, after Ananda championed their cause, the Buddha is said to have reconsidered and, five years after the formation of the sangha agreed to the ordination of women as nuns. He reasoned that males and females had an equal capacity for awakening. But he gave women additional rules Vinaya to follow.

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, which he had received as an offering from a blacksmith named Cunda. The precise contents of the Buddha's final meal are not clear, due to variant scriptural traditions and ambiguity over the translation of certain significant terms; the Theravada tradition generally believes that the Buddha was offered some kind of pork, while the Mahayana tradition believes that the Buddha consumed some sort of truffle or other mushroom.

These may reflect the different traditional views on Buddhist vegetarianism and the precepts for monks and nuns. Waley suggests that Theravadins would take suukaramaddava the contents of the Buddha's last meal , which can translate literally as pig-soft , to mean "soft flesh of a pig" or "pig's soft-food", that is, after Neumann , a soft food favoured by pigs, assumed to be a truffle.

He argues also after Neumann that as "plant names tend to be local and dialectical", as there are several plants known to have suukara- pig as part of their names, [note 15] and as Pali Buddhism developed in an area remote from the Buddha's death, suukaramaddava could easily have been a type of plant whose local name was unknown to those in Pali regions.

Specifically, local writers writing soon after the Buddha's death knew more about their flora than Theravadin commentator Buddhaghosa who lived hundreds of years and hundreds of kilometers remote in time and space from the events described. Unaware that it may have been a local plant name and with no Theravadin prohibition against eating animal flesh, Theravadins would not have questioned the Buddha eating meat and interpreted the term accordingly.

The Buddha, however, is said to have reminded Ananda how Kushinara was a land once ruled by a righteous wheel-turning king and the appropriate place for him to die. The Buddha then asked all the attendant Bhikkhus to clarify any doubts or questions they had and cleared them all in a way which others could not do.

They had none.

According to Buddhist scriptures, he then finally entered parinirvana. His body was cremated and the relics were placed in monuments or stupas, some of which are believed to have survived until the present. For example, the Temple of the Tooth or "Dalada Maligawa" in Sri Lanka is the place where what some believe to be the relic of the right tooth of Buddha is kept at present.

At his death, the Buddha is famously believed to have told his disciples to follow no leader. Mahakasyapa was chosen by the sangha to be the chairman of the First Buddhist Council , with the two chief disciples Maudgalyayana and Sariputta having died before the Buddha.

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After his death, Buddha's cremation relics were divided amongst 8 royal families and his disciples; centuries later they would be enshrined by King Ashoka into 84, stupas. An extensive and colourful physical description of the Buddha has been laid down in scriptures. A kshatriya by birth, he had military training in his upbringing, and by Shakyan tradition was required to pass tests to demonstrate his worthiness as a warrior in order to marry.

The Brahmin Sonadanda described him as "handsome, good-looking, and pleasing to the eye, with a most beautiful complexion. He has a godlike form and countenance, he is by no means unattractive. A disciple named Vakkali, who later became an arahant, was so obsessed by the Buddha's physical presence that the Buddha is said to have felt impelled to tell him to desist, and to have reminded him that he should know the Buddha through the Dhamma and not through physical appearances.

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