There are many Buddhas in Buddhism, despite the fact that
we typically refer to them as "the Buddha." Furthermore, the numerous
Buddhas have a variety of names and shapes, as well as multiple responsibilities.
The name "Buddha" literally means "one who has awakened,"
and every such enlightened human is considered a Buddha in Buddhist teaching.
Furthermore, the term Buddha is frequently used to refer to the notion of
Buddha-nature. However, there is one historical figure who is commonly referred
to as the Buddha. In Mahayana Buddhism, Shakyamuni Buddha is the name given to
the historical Buddha.
A History of Indian Buddhism (From Sakyamuni to Early Mahayana)
Mahayana Buddhism is not a single group but a collection
of Buddhist traditions: Zen Buddhism, Pure Land Buddhism, and Tibetan Buddhism
are all forms of Mahayana Buddhism. Theravada and Mahayana are both rooted in
the basic teachings of the historical Buddha, and both emphasise the individual
search for liberation from the cycle of samsara (birth, death, rebirth). The
methods or practices for doing that, however, can be very different. When
someone mentions Shakyamuni, it's almost always referring to the historical
figure who was born Siddhartha Gautama but only became known as Shakyamuni
after becoming the Buddha. Gautama Buddha is the name given to this individual
when he attained enlightenment.
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In 563 or 566 B.C.E., a prince was born to a noble family
of the Shakya clan in Lumbini Grove, a particularly beautiful park in the
Himalayan foothills (in present-day southern Nepal). This lovely park was not
distant from Kapilavastu, the Shakya kingdom's capital. King Shuddhodana, the
prince's father, called his son Siddhartha. His clan lineage, the Gautamas, was
ancient and pure, and he was a member of the Kshatriya, or royal warrior caste.
His mother was Mahamaya or Mayadevi, the daughter of Suprabuddha, a great
Shakya nobleman. Queen Mahamaya had a dream that a white elephant, outstanding
and absolutely lovely, entered her body before the birth of Siddhartha. Soon
after the birth, soothsayers predicted that the young prince would become
either a Chakravartin, a universal monarch, or an “awakened one,” a buddha. So,
from the very beginning of his birth, he showed signs of perfection.
Maya Devi (Mother of the Buddha Child -Rearing with Love)
Seven days after the birth, Queen Mahamaya died; her
sister, Siddhartha’s aunt, Mahaprajapati Gautami, who was also married to King
Suddhodana, thereafter raised and brought up Siddhartha like her own child,
with great care and love, in the wealthy circumstances of a noble family. His father
naturally wanted his son to be his successor and provided him the very best
possible education and pleasurable occupations. He tried to prevent Siddhartha
from coming into contact with any religious or spiritual path in order to steer
him toward becoming the next king of the Shakyas.
As a young prince, Siddhartha was fully educated and
mastered the arts and sciences of his day, including even the art of war and
other trainings, displaying a sharp intellect and the strength and power of a
great physique. When the young prince reached the age of sixteen, he married
Yashodhara and engaged in the pleasures of the world. He continued to relish
the comforts of the palaces, gardens, and varieties of wealth of the royal lifestyle.
20" Gautam Buddha Preaching His Dharma | Brass Buddha with Inlay Work | Handmade
During trips from the palace in his late twenties, Prince
Siddhartha came across the "four signs." They left an indelible
impression on him. An old man, a sick person, a corpse, and a monk or yogin
were among the indicators. He learned that the vanity of youth, as well as
one's health and even life, could all be taken away at any time, and that the
only way out of this suffering world of samsara was to identify and follow the
appropriate spiritual path.
Siddhartha left the palace and kingdom at the age of
twenty-nine, after the birth of his son Rahula, and embarked on an ascetic
path. For the sake of all sentient beings, he became a homeless, travelling
yogi in search of the truth. Arada Kalama and Rudraka Ramaputra, two ascetic
gurus, guided him as he began to practise. Siddhartha put up the ascetic way of
life and went to meditation, resolving to seek enlightenment on his own when he
discovered he wasn't accomplishing his aim of emancipation. After six years of
hardship and practicing near Nairanjana River, he began to travel and gradually
came to the region of Gaya. Siddhartha went to Bodhgaya, where he sat under
what was later to be known as the Bodhi-tree, vowing to exert himself in his
meditation until he reached his goal of enlightenment.
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After forty-nine days, at the age of thirty-five, Prince
Siddhartha attained complete enlightenment, or buddhahood, overcoming all the
obscurations and temptations of Mara. At this point, Siddhartha was a buddha, a
fully awakened or enlightened one, and he knew that for him, there would be no
further rebirth in samsaric realms.
Seeing that what he had achieved was not possible to
communicate directly, he remained silent for seven weeks. Buddha gave his first
discourse in Deer Park in Benares, which is known as “the first turning of the
wheel of dharma.” In this discourse, he taught the four noble truths, the
interdependent nature, and the law of karma, at the request of Indra and
Brahma. His earlier five ascetic companions became his first disciples and
began to form the bhikshu (monastic) sangha. At Vulture Peak Mountain near
Rajagriha, Buddha turned the second wheel of dharma, in which he taught the
nature of all phenomena as being shunyata or emptiness and anatma or
selflessness. There followed a period of many years of teaching at a variety of
places, such as Vaishali. The teachings of this period are known as the third
turning of the wheel of dharma, in which Buddha taught a variety of subjects,
including the notion that all sentient beings possess tathagata-garbha – the
basic heart of buddha. Through these teachings, Buddha showed the way that
leads all beings to the experience of awakening and liberation from samsara.
This demonstrates clearly his limitless compassion and loving-kindness towards
all beings who are looking for liberation and freedom from the realms of
Seniya Bimbisara The King of Magadh
King Bimbisara of Magadha became a devotee of Buddha and
gave a monastery in Rajagriha, Magadha's capital, which became historically
significant for the sangha's development. Buddha spent most of his time in the Rajagriha
and Vaishali regions, travelling from place to place and surviving off alms.
His fan base swelled at a rapid rate. Kashyapa, Shariputra, Maudgalyayana, and
Ananda were Buddha's most prominent students. Buddha later formed nunnery
orders, or bhikshuni, and had a large following and presence in these areas.
He was known as "the Shakyamuni" or "the
Sage of the Shakyas" after his enlightenment because he was born as the
Shakyas' prince, and he was later recognised as Gautama Buddha because of his
clan name. Devadatta, Siddhartha's cousin, who had always been envious of what
Siddhartha had accomplished, aspired to lead the Buddha's sangha or community
throughout his lifetime. Devadatta intended to assassinate the Buddha. Despite
his failure, he provoked a split among the monastic communities in Vaisali,
which harmed the sangha's spiritual development greatly.
Shakyamuni Buddha appointed Kashyapa, a close student, as
his regent at the age of eighty, to continue the sangha's operations. Buddha
attained parinirvana while lying on his right side and looking west. (According
to other tales and certain sutras, Buddha ate rotten food, which caused him to
die.) His relics are scattered around the country and placed in seven stupas.
Bodhgaya, India, is the most important Buddhist pilgrimage site since it is
where Shakyamuni acquired enlightenment.
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