Life and Teachings of Gautama Buddha

In this article we will briefly discuss the life and teachings of Lord Gautama Buddha.

Life of Gautama Buddha

Siddhartha, later known as Gautama Buddha, came from the republican tribe of the Shakyas, and his father Sudhadhana was the Kshatriya chief of this tribe. His mother was Mayadevi. The exact place of his birth was Lumbinivana in Kapilavastu. He was born in about 566 B.C. and lived the life of a young prince. He married and settles down as a householder and had a son named Rahula.

Increasing dissatisfaction and renunciation

From the early days of his manhood, Gautama was deeply moved by the miseries of humanity. He lived his life with increasing dissatisfaction, until he left his family and disappeared one night to become a wandering hermit.

He undertook extensive tours and after an austere six years he decided that asceticism was not the path to salvation and discarded it. He then resolved to discover the means of salvation through meditation. Eventually he sat in meditation under a Pipal tree in Gaya, with the resolve not to rise until he had attained enlightenment. Here on the full moon day of the month of Vaisakh. Gautama felt suddenly that the truths regarding life and death were revealed to him. He has been since then known as Buddha or the Enlightened One. He went on preaching during the remaining forty-five years of his life and died in his 80th year in about 487 B.C.

The teaching of Buddha

The doctrines of Buddhism are explained by Buddha himself through many sermons. In essence it was a call to follow the Middle Path based on the realization of Arya Satya or the Four Noble Truths, that is, the world is full of suffering. Suffering is caused by human desires, the renunciation of desire is the path to salvation and this salvation is possible through the Eight-Fold Path. The Eight-Fold Path, however, consisted of eight principles of action, namely,

  1. right belief,
  2. right thought,
  3. right action,
  4. right means of livelihood,
  5. right exertion,
  6. right remembrance, and
  7. right meditation.

The path was also described as the Middle Path, lying midway between sensuality and asceticism. Salvation lay in achieving nirvana or extinction, freedom from the wheel of rebirth that is deliverance, through good action. The Buddha enjoined on his followers the observance of the Ten Commandments. These were against doing all possible kinds of evil deeds.

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