Before I begin on writing on Gautam Buddha's life journey towards his enlightenment and salvation, I must refer one quote of Geeta as Buddha was said to be the 'incarnation of Lord Vishu'. Lord Krishn has said in the texses sixth and seventh in the Chapter four of Bhagavad Geeta, "Ajopi sann avyayarma-bhutanam isvari pi san; prakrtim svam adhisthaya sambhavamy atma-mayaya (6), yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata-abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam srjamy aham (7)....(Although I am unborn and My transcental body never deteriorates and although I am the Lord of all living entities, I still appear in every millennium in my original transcendental form. Whenever and where ever there is decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata and a predominant rise of irreligion-at that time I descend Myself.)........
Facts about Buddha's are reasonably certain.Upanisads are of Brahimanic order, which is of orthodoxy and did not harmonised other 'teachings' of by 'heterodox sects.' For such change an yellow-robed followers led by Gautam Buddha came to the scene at the end of the sixth and beginning of fifth century B.C by establishing 'the enlightenment or Awakened'. If one considers the posthumous effects on the world at large, Buddha was certainly the greatest man to have born in India.. The story of his birth and early life found places in 'Buddhst Scriptures. His sermon, " Turning of the Wheel of the Law", which is said to be the first sermon preached after the Buddha's enlightenment and which is the basis teaching of all .Buddhist sects, have great relevance in the present-day society, engulfed under violence and untruthness.
Story of enlightenment of Siddharth Gautam , at the age of 35 years old, has many facts. He was sitting beneath a large 'Peela tree' on the outskirts of of Gaya town ,under the regime of Bimbisara King of Magadh. A L Basham, in his book, The wonder that was India, has referred, " Sujata, the daughter of a nearby farmer, brought him a large bowl of rice boiled in milk. After eating some of this, he bathed and that evening, again sitting beneath the peepal tree, he made a solemn vow that, though his bones wasted away and his blood dried up, he would not leave his seat until the riddle of suffering was solved. So 49 days Gautam Buddha sat beneath the tree. At first he was surrounded by hosts gods and spirits, awaiting the great moment of enlightenment; but they soon fled, for Mara, the spirit of the world and of sensual pleasure, the Buddhist devil approached. For days Gautam withstood temptations of all kinds. Mara, disguised as a messenger, brought news that wicked cousin Devadatta had revolted, thrown Suddhodhana into prison and seized Yasodhara but Gautam was not moved. Mara called him demon hosts and attacked him with whirlwind, tempest, flood and earthquake but he sat firm, cross-legged beneath the tree. Then the tempter called on Gautama to produce evidence of his goodness and benevolence; he touched the ground with his hand and the Earth itself spoke with voice of thunder: "I am his witness."
"......Mara than tried gentler means of Gautama's resolve. He called his three beautiful daughter; Desire, Pleasure and Passion, who danced and sang before him and tried every means of seduction. Their wiles were quite ineffectual. They offered him Universal Empire, but he was quite unmoved. At last the demon hosts gave up the struggle and Gautama, left alone, sank deeper and deeper into meditation.At the dawning of the forty-ninth day he knew the truth. He had found the secret of sorrow and understood at last why the world is full of sufferings and unhappiness of all kinds and what man must do to overcome them. He was fully enlightened--a Buddha. For another seven weeks he remained under the Tree of Wisdom (bodhi), meditating on the great truths he had found. For a time he doubted whether he should proclaim his wisdom to the world, as it was so recondite and difficult to express that few would understand it; but the god Brahma himself descended from heaven and persuaded him to reach the world. Leaving the Tree of Wisdom, he journeyed to the Deer Park near Banaras (the modern Sarnath), where his five former disciples had settled to continue their panances....."
Buddha's birth and upbringing up has also unique story. Gautam Buddha was the son of the King of Sakyas, a small Tribe of Himalayan foothills, namely Kapilvastu. One night Mahamaya, the chief queen of Suddhodhana, king of Sakyas and mother of Gautam Buddha, had a dream that she was carried away to the divine lake Anavatapta in the Himalayas where she was bathed by the heavenly guardians of the four quarters of the universe. Subsequently a great white elephant with a lotus flower in his trunk approached her and assimilated inside her. The next day dream was interpreted by wise men of the kingdom --she has had conceived a wonderful son, who would be either king of the universe or teacher of the universe, The child was born in a grove of sal trees called Lummbini, near the capital of Sakyayas, Kapilvastu while his mother was on the way to her parents' home for her confinement. At birth he stood upright, took seven strides and spoke: " This is my last birth-henceforth there is no more birth for me." He was named Siddharth. His 'gotr' name was Gautam, as he is known in Buddhist literature.
To prevent prophesy about Siddharth, the King Suddhodhan decided that the boy should never know the sorrows of the world and he was brought up in the Palace with all comforts, luxuries and facilities. From that place, the king removed all sign of death, disease and misery. He was trained in all aspects of life as a prince is taught. Gautam excelled in learning as students. Thereafter, he married his" cousin Yasodhara, who he won at a great contest at which he performed feats of strength and skill which put to shame all other contestants including his envious cousin Devadatta.But even after his success and vast knowledge, Gautam was not at all happy. So many efforts of his father did not deter him to take a path to shape his destiny. One day Gautam was moving around the royal park with his faithful charioteer Channa, he saw an aged man, in the last stage of infirmity and decrepitude-actually a god, who had taken this in disguise in order that Siddharth Gautam might become a Buddha. Siddharth asked Channa who this repulsive being was and when he learned that all men must grow old he was even more troubled in mind. This was the first sign. The second came a little later, in the same way, in the form of a very sick man, covered with boils and shivering with fever. The third was even more terrible-a corpse, being carried to the cremation ground followed by weeping mourners. But the fourth sign brought the hope and consolation-a wandering religious beggar, clad in simple yellow robe, peaceful and calm with inward joy. On seeing him Siddharth realised where his destiny lays, and set his heart on becoming a wanderer."
When the King could know all these developments, he stepped up his precautions to keep Gautam at a bay from all these evil things.. Siddharth was virtually made a prisioner, surrounded with luxuries and pleasures of all kinds. But Siddharth never remained happy. One morning Siddharth was informed that Yasodhara had given birth to his son.. But it gave him neither any pleasure nor any happiness to him.. That night was night of festivities in the Palace. When everybody enjoyed and later slept in deep pleasure sleep, he awoke Channa, who was 'ghorsawar' of his horse 'Kanthaka' and he slipped in the midnight fro from the Palace. Surrounded by rejoicing demigods, who cushioned the fall of his horse's hoofs, so that no one could listen his leaving the Palace. " when far way from the city he stripped off his jewellery and fine garments and put on a hermit's robe, provided by an attendant demigod. Siddharth cut off his hear of head from his sword and sent it back to his father with his garments through Channa. The horse Kanthaka dropped dead from grief when he found that he was to be parted from his master, to be reborn in one of the heavens. Thus Siddharth started his "great going Forth" (Mahabhiniskramana) and became a wandering ascetic, owing nothing but the robe he wore."
To begin with Siddharth started begging for his food as a wanderer. There after he became a forest hermit. A sage named Alara Kalama he learn ed the technique of meditation and the "lore of Brahman as taught in the Upanishads; but he was not convinced that man could obtain liberation from sorrow by self-discipline and knowledge, so he joined forces with five ascetics who were practising the most rigorous self-mortification in the hope of wearing away their karma and obtaining final bliss. He adopted very hard task that five quickly recognised him as their leader. For six years , he adopted rigorous and tortured himself.. Just Gautam became walking skeleton. One day, worn out by penance and hunger, he fainted and his followers believed that he was dead. But after a while he recovered and consciousness and realised that his fasts and penaces had been useless. He again began to beg food and his body regained strength and started another round of meditation. The five disciples left him in disgust at his black- sliding.
After attaining enlightenment, Buddha, preached his first sermon or in Buddhist phraseology set in motion the "Wheel of Law." Five of his deserted disciples joined him and were so impressed with Buddha's new doctrine that they gave u p austerities and once more became his disciples. Later many more joined and Buddha sent them to different directions to preach the Buddhist Dharm. A few days later a band of sixty young ascetics became his followers and Buddha sent them to all directions. Soon his name got popularity in throughout the Ganges plain and greatest kings of that time favoured him and his followers. there are many stories about Buddha's long years of preaching.
Buddha returned to Kapilvastu and converted his father, wife, son Rahul as well as many other members of the court, including his cousin Devadatta, whose heart remain full of jealousy. At the request of his foster-mother and aunt," Krsa-Gautami, he allowed with much misgivings the formation of community of nuns. Devadatta grew so jealous of him that once he even tried to kill Buddha, by arranging for a mad elephant to be let loose in his path; but the beast, impressed by the Buddha's gentleness and fearlessness, calmly bowed at his feet. Not only that Buddha averted war between the Sikyas and neighbouring tribe of the Koliyas, by walking between the assembled armies and convincing them of the uselessness and evil of bloodshed. Buddha went alone to the camp of notorious bandit Angulimala and converted him and his followers from their evil ways."
Although his life was full of miracles and many wonders, the earliest traditions record few "miracles performed by Buddha himself. Once, indeed, he is said to have performed feats of levitation and other miracles at Sravasti, as a result of challenge from rival teachers, but he sternly forbade the monks to perform magical feats and there is no record of his healing sick by supernatural means.One touching story of the Buddha is interesting in this connection, since it contrasts strikingly with the Gospel stories of the miracles of Jesus. A woman, stricken with grief at the death of her only son and hearing that Buddha was in the vicinity, brought the child's corpse to his in the hope that he would restore it to life.He asked her first to go to the nearby town and bring a handful of mustard seed from a family in which no one had died. She went from house to house, but of course could find no such family, until at last she understood the inevitability of death and sorrow and became a nun."
Remarkably because of his growing reputation in over 40 years of his life , Buddha religious discourse made him a giant figure. And the Sangha (literally society, the Buddhist order) increased in number and influence..With the single exception of the conspiracy of " Devadatta, he suffered no persecution, though a few of his followers were maltreated by the religious opponents. His ministry was a long, calm and peaceful one, in this respect very different from that of Jesus."
The end of Buddha's life came at the age of eighty.. Buddha spent his last rainy season of his life near the city of Vaisali ( now in new Bihar) and after the rains he and his followers journeyed northwards to the hill country which had been the home of his youth. "on the way Buddha prepared his disciples for his death. He told them that his body was now like a worn-out cart, creaking every joint. He declared that he declared that he had made no distinction between esoteric and exoteric teaching, but had preached the full doctrine to them. When he was gone they were to look for new leader-the Doctrine (dharma) which had preached would lead them. They must rely on themselves be their own lamps and look for no refuge outside themselves.........."
At last the "D" day came and at the town of Pava he was "entertained by a lay of disciple, Cunda, the sinmith and ate a meal of pork. Soon after this he was attacked by dysenery but he insisted on moving on the nearby town of Kusinagara (Pali, Kusinara), now in Uttar Pradesh.Here on the outskirts of the town, he lay down under a sal tree and that night he died. His last words were: "All composite things decay strive diligently!" This was his "Final Blowing-out" (Parinirvana). His sorrowing disciples cremated his body and his ashes were divided between the representatives of various tribal people and the King Ajatshatru of Magadh."
Even today the Buddhist holy places-the Lumbini grave at Kapilvasti, where Buddha was born, currently in Nepal, the Tree of Wisdom at Gaya, now in Bihar , India,, where g he gained enlightenment, the Deer Park near Banaras, where he preached his first sermon and the grove near Kusinagara, now Kushunagar in Uttar Pradesh in India, where he died--were visited by many pilgrims including the Ashoka the great himself, who spread Buddhism throughout the globe during his period of Kingdom.
Buddha's teachings relevance are gaining ground day-to-day year-to -year and Buddha is remembered throughout the Planet as a great saint and sage!
Sources:- Readers could get more details in Pali forms as used in the Sthaviravada Buddhists. Many writings on Buddha in Pali , The Discovery of India of Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru, The Wonder That Was India, written by A L Basham and other rare manuscripts in Pali, available in Nalanda, Patna, Banars, Kushinagar and Kapilvastu. etc.