Around 2300 years from today, King Suddhodhana ruled the kingdom of Kapilavastu.
On the eve of the harvest festival, his queen Mahamaya conducted a grand donation of 4-lakh coins.
That night she dreamt of a white elephant carrying a shining white lotus in its trunk.
It then circumambulated her three times and pushed into her womb.
Being curious, she informed the king about the dream in great detail.
So, the king invited learned scholars, donated clothes and other costly articles.
Then he enquired about the dream from the wise men and heard their opinion.
After great examining, they concluded that the king shall father a son of an extremist temperament.
Their predictions were mind-boggling.
They said warningly- Your son shall either become a valorous emperor or the greatest of renunciants.
As the delivery date came near, the queen expressed her desire to visit her maternal residence.
However, in the midst of the journey, Gautama Buddha was born in 623 BC.
The overjoyed citizens celebrated the birth of the new-born.
Early life of Buddha- Siddhartha
With great affection, its parents called him Siddhartha.
The child was just 7 days old when his mother died
Hence, his aunt Mahapajapati Gotami nurtured him like her own son.
On growing up, his guru Vishwamitra Brahmin tutored him on various elite subjects including the Vedas, Upanishads, warfare, and kingship.
The prince shone as the brightest amongst all his students.
Nobody could equal him in wrestling, archery, horse riding, and chariot-riding.
Prince Siddhartha’s compassion
Since childhood, he was an epitome of compassion.
While riding his horse, if he took notice of his horse panting or the foam arising from its mouth, he would instantly stop and attend to its needs.
Such was his empathy.
Also, during play if he found his friend morose, he would sacrifice his play and make him the winner.
Once when his cousin injured a dove, Siddhartha felt great empathy for the poor creature.
He immediately applied herbal mixture on its wounds.
When the complaint reached the king’s court, Siddhartha gave a wonderful reasoning-
“The savior has greater right than the killer.
Because the killer kills, but the savior is the one who protects.”
At the age of eighteen, he got married to Dandapani’s daughter, Yashodhara, from the Shakya dynasty.
Now, King Shudodhana consciously kept all unpleasantness away from the prince to inhibit the rise of dispassion in his heart.
He built three separate mansions for his son’s entertainment.
These mansions were filled with sense objects and damsels excelled in the art of music and dance.
Numerous attendants stood at his mere disposal.
However all this couldn’t bind the prince to worldly life.
Siddhartha’s thirst for spiritual enlightenment
Once, Siddhartha rode on his chariot to behold the gardens.
On his way, he spotted an old man with a hunched back.
His hair had gone grey, all his teeth had fallen as he went walking with his hand-stick.
Siddhartha was bemused to spot such a human.
The charioteer informed him that all humans reach this state at some point of life.
Aging is natural.
The prince grew gloomy to see the sad end of man as he rode back to his palace.
On seeing the prince morose, the king immediately made all arrangement for his entertainment.
However, all this couldn’t satiate his inner urge.
Accidently, the prince spotted a diseased man, who was crying in pain. His mouth went pale as he withered in pain.
Immediately after this, Siddhartha spotted a corpse, the dead end of man.
The intelligent prince thought- “If these afflictions are inevitable, then how futile is this human life! Can man ever be free from these miseries?”
Suddenly he spotted a sanyasi wearing saffron robes, heading towards self-realization.
The charioteer praised the virtues of such a seer.
Siddhartha Gautama renounces his home
Siddhartha immediately made up his mind to renounce his home soon after.
Meanwhile, he had a son. But that didn’t’ deter his resolve.
At the dark sleeping hours, Siddhartha sneaked out of his room.
However, he wished to have a last look at his family.
He then entered his room and saw his sleeping wife laying her hand on their son’s forehead.
He did stop for a moment, but then decisively exited his palace.
The Devas showered flowers on him and he heard their celestial music.
Siddhartha then got his chariot ready and swiftly reached the banks of the Anoma River.
There, he shaved off his attractive hair and disposed his royal jewelry.
He thus assumed the guise of a perfect renunciant.
On reaching the town of Rajagriha, Siddhartha sought alms for his sustenance. But, on putting the first morsel, he began to vomit.
He had never consumed such stale food.
On the contrary, he was used to eating the royal food cooked by expert chefs. Yet, he consumed the food with a strong mind.
On his journey, he met numerous seers, but none could satiate his thirst for the supreme.
Then he underwent rigorous austerities.
First he spent some time eating nuts and rice. Later, he even gave up food. Likewise he spent 6 years. His body had become bony like a skeleton.
Once, in his extreme fatigue, he fell unconscious.
When he gained consciousness he concluded-
“There is no point of torturing my body.
This won’t help!”
So thinking, Siddhartha arose and sat under the Banyan tree for contemplation.
Buddha eats Sujata’s kheer
It was the day of Vaisakha Purnima.
A lady named Sujata brought some kheer to worship the banyan tree.
But on seeing Siddhartha’s resplendency, she decided to feed the latter. So she requested him-
“Dev, Kindly partake this pudding. May your wishes bear fruit.”
So saying, she handed the plate to Siddhartha and went homewards.
With the plate he went near the banks of the Niranjana River.
There he bathed, ate the holy pudding and dumped the plate in the river itself.
He then arose and sat facing his back to the Banyan tree.
Now he was convinced of the possibilities of his realization.
The rise of Gautama Buddha
During his contemplation, he had three major realizations-
1) First, he got knowledge of all his previous births.
2) In his second realization, he obtained divine sight to detect the transcendental world.
3) Lastly, in the final stage, he attained self-realization (Buddhatva).
Since then people know him as the Buddha (self-illumined). Also, the tree under which he attained enlightenment got the name “Bodhi”, owing to Buddha’s grace.
Now Buddha had understood the secret of repeated birth and death.
Subsequently, he sat under the tree for 4 continuous weeks and pondered over the nature of Dharma.
Soon after, he roamed to various places preaching Buddhism.
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