Buddha, meaning one who is awake in the sense of having woken up to reality was the title firstgiven to Lord Buddha. It was about 2500 years ago when Prince Siddhartha Gautam left all theworldly pleasures to attain the reality of life, and became the Buddha - the enlightened one. It was astate in which the Buddha gained an insight into the deepest workings of life and therefore into thecause of human suffering, the problem that had set Him on his spiritual quest in the first place.Early LifeSiddhartha Gautama was born in 563 BCE in Lumbini, Nepal as a son of Shuddhodhana, the king ofKapilavastu and his Queen, Mayadevi. Unfortunately, Mayadevi died only seven days after the birthof Siddhartha and so, He was brought up by His stepmother, Gautami. It is interesting to note thatwhen Siddhartha was born, the astrologers had predicted that the prince would renunciate thecomforts of the materialistic world and instead, opt for a path of His own. When the KingShuddhodhana came to know about the prediction, he naturally became extremely cautious and triedto prevent a thing that was bound to happen, and he did not let Siddhartha even move out of thepalace. It was the deepest desire of the king that his son would fulfill his fathers dream one day bybecoming a King.The Turning PointWhen Siddhartha had grown into an intelligent young man, He moved out of his palace one day, andsaw certain things that changed the entire course of His life. He first saw a very old man who couldbarely walk, a sick man who was in A severe pain, and lastly a corpse. Since, He had never beenexposed to pain before, these sights affected him immensely, although His charioteer tried to explainHim that pain and death - both were inevitable.This entire episode turned His life and His heart compelled Him to evaluate His life completely andthen, He began the search for the reason of existence. King Shuddhodhana got perturbed bywhatever his son was going through and therefore, he arranged Siddharthas marriage with a youngand beautiful princess, Yasodhara. For some time, Siddhartha again got involved into the worldlypleasures, but somewhere at the back of His head, He had still not forgotten what He had seen! Itwas soon after the birth of son Rahul, that Siddhartha on a starry night, left His wife and son in deepsleep and left the palace.A Quest for Light or TruthSiddhartha was only 29, when He had left home. For some time, He moved around the entire countrymeeting various sadhus and saints in His search for inner peace. It was during this period thatSiddhartha lived the life of a hermit and involved Himself in rigorous tapasya in order to comprehendthe reason for life and death. A time came when He realised that it was useless to torture ones bodywhile finding the truth, and then, He denunciated the method of tapasya and fast.Then one fine day as Siddhartha reached Bodh Gaya and being very exhausted, He took a seatunder the shade of a peepal tree and closed His eyes. It was then He felt a divine light coming withinHimself. This was the turning point in His quest as He realised that the truth is within every humanbeing and to search for it outside was baseless. After this incidence, He came to be known as Buddha or the enlightened one.
The Right Path and ImmortalityFor 45 years, Buddha spread His message of spiritual life to not only His disciples but the commonpeople as well. He gave emphasis on the purification of mind, heart and ultimately, soul by followingthe Eightfold Path, the Four Noble Truths and the Five Preceptions. This path included the rightspeech, understanding, determination, deeds, efforts, awareness, thinking and living. As perBuddhism, if one follows these paths, one could overcome desires, which were the reason for all thegrieves and miseries.After spreading His message to the world successfully, Buddha died at the age of 80 years in 483BCE. at Kushinagar, India. Today, Buddhism has a strong following in various Asian countries and isgradually finding its feet in some of the western countries as well.Five Principles of PanchsheelAfter attaining the enlightenment, Gautam Buddha went to the holy city of Benares andshared his new understanding with other fellows who became his disciples immediately.This was considered as the beginning of the Buddhist community. Till his death, Buddhawith his band of disciples spread the gospel of the Dhamma among all the classescomprised of beggars, kings and slave girls.The Basic Teachings of Buddha which are core of Buddhism are-Source of Buddhas TeachingsThe Buddhas teachings have been reconstructed from stories, foundmainly in the Sutta Pitaka. Although some stories describe hismiraculous powers, others suggest that the Buddha tried to convincepeople through reason and persuasion rather than through displaysof supernatural power. According to Buddhist philosophy, the worldis transient (anicca) and constantly changing; it is also soulless(anatta) as there is nothing permanent or eternal in it. Within thistransient world, sorrow (dukkha) is intrinsic to human existence. It isby following the path of moderation between severe penance andself-indulgence that human beings can rise above these worldly troubles. In the earliestforms of Buddhism, whether or not god existed was irrelevant.Buddhist Teaching of Re-BirthThe Buddha regarded the social world as the creation of humans rather than of divineorigin. Therefore, he advised kings and gahapatis to be humane and ethical. Individualeffort was expected to transform social relations. The Buddha emphasized individualagency and righteous action as the means to escape from the cycle of rebirth and attainself-realization and nibbana, literally the extinguishing of the ego and desire - and thusend the cycle of suffering for those who renounced the world. According to Buddhisttradition, his last words to his followers were: "Be lamps unto yourselves as all of youmust work out your own liberation."Buddhas Teaching – The Way to SalvationDuring the course of meditation, Gautam Buddha after attaining the enlightenment cameout with the certain principles which have become the pillars of Buddhism. These
teachings have also become the guidelines for the followers of Buddha. These principlescan broadly be explained under the following categories.1. The Four Noble TruthsThe teachings of Buddha can be summarized under the category of Four Noble Truthswhich are as under:a) Suffering is common - Birth, Sickness, Old age, Death etc.b) Cause of Suffering - ignorance and greed.c) End of Suffering – to cut off greed and ignorance.d) Path to end Suffering - the Noble Eightfold Path is the way to end suffering.2. The Noble Eightfold PathThe teachings of Buddha goes round and round like a great wheel that never stops,leading to the central point of the wheel, the only point which is fixed, Nirvana. Theeight spokes on the wheel represent the eight parts of the Noble Eightfold Path whichare as follows: 1) Right View; 2) Right Thought; 3) Right Speech; 4) Right Conduct; 5)Right Livelihood; 6) Right Effort; 7) Right Mindfulness; 8) Right Concentration.The PanchshilaAll the religions of the world are based on the fundamental principles of good conductand prohibit their followers to indulge in the misconduct and misbehavior that may harmthe society at large. So, the Panchshila of Buddha is comprised of the basic teachings ofconduct which are as under:1. No killing Respect for life2. No stealing Respect for others property3. No sexual misconduct Respect for our pure nature4. No lying Respect for honesty5. No intoxicants Respect for a clear mind