From Siddharth to Buddha - The Enlightened One

One day, when passing through a street, he saw a man who was so old that he could not walk. Another day, he saw a very sick man lying unconscious on the ground. He asked himself, "What is pain ? Why is there so much pain and suffering in the world ? Is there any way of avoiding them ?" The Gautama came across an ascetic who looked so calm that he seemed to have found the answers to the problems of old age, sickness and death. Gautama decided to renounce the world and become an ascetic.

By now Gautama had become a father. But neither love for his baby son Rahul nor attachment to his beautiful wife Yasodhara deflected him from his purpose. One night, when his wife and son were asleep, Gautam stole out of palace. He discarded his royal lobes, snipped off his long curling tresses and went out into the dark night to seek the light of knowledge.

Gautama went from one religious center to another and from one hermitage to the next asking the inmates for answers to his questions. He got none. At last he reached a forest at the edge of the river Niranjana near Gaya. Gautama stayed here for six long years, starving himself and practising all kinds of other penances till he was reduced to skin and bone. He then realised that enlightenment could not come through mortifying the flesh. That very day a woman named Sujata offered him a bowl of kheer and a grass cutter gave him a stack of grass to sleep on. Gautama accepted both these gifts. His death recovered. He took his seat under a Bo tree and resolved to stay there until he found the answers to his questions.

One night, an hour or so before dawn, he found the answers to the four truths of life - the existence of pain and suffering, their causes, the need to overcome them and the means of doing so. Thus Gautama became Gautama the Buddha - the Enlightened one. This event took place on his thirty - fifth birthday which was also the night of the full moon Vaisakh.

From Gaya, the Buddha proceeded to Sarnath near Varanasi. Here five men became his disciples. He taught them the truths he had discovered and formed the first Sangha - community. Thereafter he traveled far and wide preaching the truth and gained a large following consisting of scholars, sanyasis, rulers of states and their ministers. He also went back to his home. But this time he entered his father's state not as a prince but as a bhikshu - monk. His father, stepmother, wife and son joined his Sangha.


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