Gautam Buddha is one of the important people who dedicated their whole lives in the difficult work of spreading the bright light of peace and non-violence. He is the founder and preacher of Buddhism, which is taken as a great religion of present age. He was a spiritual teacher. The accurate facts about his birth and death are not known till today but many historians date his lifetime from circa 563 BCE to 483 BCE.
Before he became Gautam Buddha, he was known as Siddhartha Gautam. He was a prince of the powerful state of Kapilvastu, Lumbini, Nepal. His father was King Suddhodhana who always wanted him to be a great king like himself. So, he shielded his son from religious teachings or knowledge of human suffering. Instead, he provided him the knowledge of different other useful aspects of life and gave him a luxurious life. As Siddhartha Gautam reached the age of 16, his father arranged his marriage to Yashodhara. After some years, they gave birth to a very beautiful son who was named Rahul. Though Suddhodhana was sure that he had provided his son everything which is needed for his better life, Siddhartha Gautam was not fully satisfied. He always felt that something was lacking in his life and he also felt that only physical wealth is not the ultimate goal of life.
The thought of leaving the palace and gain knowledge came into the mind of Siddhartha Gautam when he was taken out of the walls of the palace for roaming in the city. At that time, his father had ordered his people not to be presented as sad and poor ones in front of Siddhartha Gautam. But his plan failed. Siddhartha Gautam saw an old man who was very much weak and poor. This shook his mind. Eventually, he encountered a diseased man, a decaying corpse and an ascetic. Due to these sights, he became very much depressed and he planned to find the way to overcome all these. So, at the age of 29, Siddhartha Gautam secretly left the palace, his family and the luxurious life.
After escaping, he became a student of great Udaka Ramaputta, where he achieved high levels of meditative consciousness. He was also asked to succeed Ramaputta, but he was still unsatisfied with this. So, he decided to move on. When he was leaving Ramaputta’s shuttle, he was accompanied by a group of five companions. Along with these five companions, Siddhartha Gautam tried to find the bright light of enlightenment and knowledge by depriving themselves of all the worldly goods, including food.
After a long series of meditation without even a single grain of food, he finally achieved his goal. He attained enlightenment at the age of 35, after meditating for altogether 49 days. Since that time, he was called Gautam Buddha. Here, the word ‘Buddha’ means “one who knows everything”. This word also means “the awakened one”.
At this time, he felt that he had received complete awakening. He became totally satisfied because he had already got the answer to his question. His question was, “What is the major cause of human suffering?” and the answer he got was ‘Ignorance’. He also got four steps to eliminate human suffering which were later known as the Four Noble Truths which led to Nirvana (the state of supreme liberation which is possible for any living being). Later on, he also possessed the Nine Characteristics, which are believed to be found in every Buddha. During his lifetime, Buddha went to different places where he preached Buddhism. He even returned to Kapilvastu once, as a result of his father’s request. But he didn’t agree to accept the luxurious life. He even met different people like Angulimala, who was a murderer and Alavaka, who was a cannibal. His own cousin, Devadatta turned out to be his greatest enemy who even tried to kill him many times. But Devadatta’s plans were never successful.
After fulfilling every objective of his life, he left his physical body at about 483 BCE. With many disciples and followers, he preached Buddhism all over Asia. Due to this, today Buddhism has became one of the major religions of the present 21st century.