With around 520 million followers, Buddhism is the fourth largest faith in the world. Though Buddhism originated in India, the people of the Asian subcontinent vastly practice it and it has been attracting the West as well. One of the major reasons for the popularity of Buddhism is its simple and uncomplicated approach to life. The Buddha’s way of life encompasses a philosophy that is based on reason and compassion.
Gautam Buddha was born in Lumbini situated at Indo-Nepal Border in around 600 BCE. He was born to the Shakya ruler and enjoyed a life of all comforts. At the birth of Gautam, the saints made a prophecy. It predicted that Gautam Buddha will either become the strongest monarch who will rule the world, or he will leave all the worldly pleasures to seek enlightenment. Siddhartha, as he was named, spent the first phase of his life in Kapilvastu (in present-day Uttar Pradesh, India), as the prince of the Shakya kingdom. Though he was born to the Kshatriya (warrior) clan, he was against war and fights. He sought peace among humans and nature.
While worldly pleasures were the pride of kings, Siddhartha didn’t find any contentment in them. Highly displeased, he left his home at the age of 29 to seek true happiness. The sufferings of the world moved young Siddhartha and thus he decided to find the solution for them. On his path of discovery, Siddhartha met numerous philosophers and ascetics. Their knowledge did not seem to provide him the right answers. Siddhartha disapproved the concept of harming oneself to attain knowledge. Thus, he took the middle path to find the true meaning of life. He meditated under the Bodhi Tree (in Bodh Gaya, Bihar). It was after four weeks of continuous meditation, that he gained enlightenment (true knowledge) and came to be known as Buddha, the enlightened one.
Spread of Buddhism
Upon gaining enlightenment, Buddha decided to spread his knowledge to the world which could reduce the suffering of the people. He traveled to various regions of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, propagating his learning. Several extracts state that Buddha traveled through the nine months of the year and rested for the three months of the rainy seasons. Influenced by his teachings and calm demeanor, many people started following him and became his disciples.
Buddha spent his whole life teaching people and preaching true knowledge. He attained Nirvana, at the age of eighty. It was after his death, that his disciples formulated the knowledge into Buddhist teachings which became the foundation of Buddhism.
Buddha believed that attachment was the cause of suffering and to overcome the sufferings one should restrain from worldly desires. These teachings include:
Buddha believed meditation can lead to the development of the spirit of universal love. Hence, he professed that to reach nirvana, one must lead a simple life devoid of hatred and discrimination.
“May I be happy, may my relations be happy, may all living animals be happy”- Gautam Buddha