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Lord Buddha, the founder of the all time popular religious philosophy of Buddhism, lived in North India and he was popularly known as Siddhattha (Siddhartha which means whose purpose in life has been achieved). Buddha’s family name was Gotama. Buddha’s father, King Suddhodana ruled the kingdom of Sakyans at Kapilavatthu in the Nepalese frontier. Buddha’s mother was Maya Devi who was the princess of the Koliyas.
On the full moon day of May, the queen was travelling from Kapilavatthu to Devadaha (her parental home) to give birth to her child. But, it did not happen and during the halfway stage between the two cities in the Lumbini grove the princess began experiencing her labor pains and under the shade of a Sal tree, Lord Siddhartha’s birth took place. His father wanted Siddhartha to become a great monarch.
According to legends, the astrologers who had prepared Siddhartha’s horoscope predicted a great future for him either as a spiritual leader or as a conquering hero. In the former case, Siddhartha was supposed to be guided by four signs i.e. old age, sickness, death and renunciation.
As Siddhartha’s father King Suddhodana did not want this to take place, he established three castles for his son’s residence so that he may not come across any of these four signs. One fine day, when Siddhartha went out for a drive he came across an old man leaning on a stick. The sight disturbed Siddhartha profoundly and he learnt all about sickness from his charioteer. Siddhartha bumped into an old man the following day, saw a dead body on the third day and met a recluse on the fourth day. According to Buddhist scriptures, God had assumed all these forms in order to detract Siddhartha from the worldly life his father had thought for him.
Later, Siddhartha married princess Yasodhara (daughter of Dandapani) who bore him a son by the name of Rahula. However, things changed when Siddhartha witnessed those four sights of sickness. And, even marriage could not solve life’s problem for him. In spite of having a family life, he renounced his comfortable life one dark night and left the palace without seeing anybody.
Soon after abandoning the palace, Siddhartha attached himself with various teachers in his bid to find solutions to the mysteries of life but none of them proved helpful and he finally decided to tread the path alone.
When Siddhartha abandoned the palace, he was 29 years of age and for the next six years, he strived as a recluse. He later discovered that the methods of extremes are not going to work out and at the age of 35, he sought a shelter under a tree. He finally attained enlightenment and began seeing things as they really were. Henceforth, he came to be known as Lord Buddha. The tree under which Lord Buddha gained enlightenment came to be known as Bodhi Tree. Lord Buddha, it is said, experienced a flash of insight that gave him an answer to the problems of sufferings and he shared with others the meaning of his enlightenment since B.C. 588.
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