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According to legend – Siddhartha Gautama, also known as the Buddha, was a Hindu prince who in the sixth to fifth centuries BCE abandoned his position and wealth in order to pursue enlightenment as a spiritual ascetic.

He eventually attained his goal and, by teaching others about his path, established Buddhism in India. Gautama Buddha is said to have lived between 563 and 483 BCE by historians. Even though most of the details of his life are mythical, he is nonetheless regarded as a real historical character and the coeval of Vardhamana Mahavira, who founded the Jain doctrines just before Siddhartha's time.

Early Life

Buddhist sources claim that Siddhartha was foretold to become either a strong ruler or a great spiritual teacher – at the time of his birth. During his childhood and a major part of his youth, approximately 29 years of his life, Siddharth's father shielded him from seeing or feeling anything unpleasant or distressing, out of concern that he might develop into the latter if exposed to the sorrows of the world. His father's barriers were breached one day, and he came face to face with what is referred to as the "four signs" in Buddhism: an old man, a sick man, a dying man, and a devout ascetic.

These clues made him realize that like any other living being, he too would have to face the phases of life that might make him suffer in old age, lose what he loved and ultimately die. He came to see that the manner he was living guaranteed his agony and that, in the end, all of existence was characterized by suffering from want or loss. He started living a simple life and tried out several disciplines and gurus until he discovered enlightenment on his own.
Buddha, which means "one who is awakened or enlightened," became his name as a consequence. The Eightfold Path to Enlightenment, the Four Noble Truths, and the Wheel of Becoming were then taught by Gautama Buddha as his "middle way" of renouncing the material luxuries of the world, and detaching oneself from worldly pleasures as well as sorrows. His students expanded and maintained his teachings after his passing, and the Mauryan ruler Ashoka the Great eventually extended them beyond India to other nations. Buddhism has thrived since the time Ashoka the Great lived in and is currently one of the main world faiths.

Historical Background

At a period when social and religious change was taking place, Siddhartha, or Gautama Buddha, was born in Lumbini, modern-day Nepal. The predominant religion in India at the time was Sanatan Dharma of Hinduism, but a number of philosophers of the time had already started to cast doubt on its veracity as well as the authority of the Vedas, the Hindu scriptures, and the rituals of the priests. It was asserted that traditional Hinduism fell short of meeting the requirements of the common people. However, they were all written in Sanskrit, a language that only the Brahmins and priests could translate for the common people.
The Vedas were supposed to have originated and existed from the moment the cosmos came into being and were the absolute truth, the word of God. And although the brahmins themselves continued to live well off of temple contributions, the temple priests saw the Vedas as a method to urge people to embrace whatever social class and stage of life they belonged in, no matter how challenging or destitute. On a doctrinal level, some started to doubt Hinduism as a whole. According to Hinduism, there was an ultimate entity named Brahman who not only created the cosmos but was it as well. The Vedas were given by Brahman in order to give humans the knowledge and clarity they need to participate in the divine system, which he had founded, upheld, and established.

Enlightenment And Myths

Initially, Siddhartha sought out the eminent instructor Arada Kalama, under whose tutelage he studied until he had learned everything Kamala knew. However, the "attainment of nothingness" he attained did not relieve Siddhartha of his agony. He later enrolled as a pupil of Udraka Ramaputra, who taught him how to stifle his cravings and achieve a condition of being "neither conscious nor unconscious," but this was insufficient for him because it did not address the issue of pain. He put himself through the strictest ascetic regimens, perhaps after a Jain model, and finally lived off of only one grain of rice every day, yet he was still unable to locate the absolute truth that he was seeking.
Buddha stumbled into a river at this point in one version of his tale, fighting to stay alive and keep his head above water, and is guided by a whispering voice. In the most well-known version, a milkmaid called Sujata discovers him in the woods, mistaking him for a tree spirit due to his extreme malnourishment, and provides him with some rice milk. After being revived by the milk, Buddha abandons his asceticism and travels to the adjacent hamlet of Bodh Gaya, where he settles down on a bed of grass next to a Bodhi tree and makes a pledge to stay there until he discovers how to live pain-free.

Buddha's Death

The Buddha Gautama passed away from poisoning. He discovered his food was poisoned after tasting it and knew he couldn't consume it. Before serving food to all of the monks present, the host first fed Buddha. He then responded, "I've eaten the delicious meal provided to us, but my followers would not be able to properly digest it. Never give it to my people."
Buddha then descended. While still alive, he was unwell and resting there. He had to address the gathering of followers and give them instructions on how to move on because he unexpectedly came to an end. He couldn't sit up straight. He had to hold his head while speaking because he was unable to do so when seated. That position thereafter came to be known as Gautama's Mahaparinirvana.
The Buddhists developed a deep reverence for such posture. Buddha is often shown in a seated position since that is when he delivered his last teaching and provided the movement with its main guidelines. Many Buddhists began reclining in this manner.

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