Life Story of Buddha in Pictures: Part One

Uma Shankari By Uma Shankari, 29th Jul 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Philosophy>Philosophers

How Siddhartha, the prince of Kapilavastu across the foothills of the Himalayas, became Buddha, the 'awakened one', is an interesting story.

Buddha, The Awakened one

How Siddhartha, the prince of Kapilavastu across the foothills of the Himalayas, became Buddha, the 'awakened one', is an interesting story. Ordinary people live life as in a dream. Enlightenment is like waking up and experiencing a complete transformation of body and mind. Siddhartha transcended from the pain of suffering and rebirth to Nirvana and experienced a sense of peace and a unique form of awareness or intelligence that is called bodhi in Buddhism.

Mahamaaya's Dream

Queen Mahamaya caressed her belly fondly. She thought of the vivid dream she had the previous night – a full moon night. She felt herself being carried away by four celestials to Lake Anotatta (Pali word for Lake Mansarovar in today's Tibet) in the Himalayas, bathing, dressing and anointing her. Soon after, a white elephant, holding a white lotus flower in its trunk, appeared and went round her three times, entering her womb through her right side.

The queen awoke with a start. The dream, she knew, was very symbolic and portended something momentous to happen in her life. When her husband, King Shuddhodana, heard this, he sent for some wise men to discover the meaning of the dream.

"The gods have chosen our queen as the mother of the Purest-One and the child will be a great human being," said the wise men.

There was a great jubilation all around.

Siddhartha's Birth

As per the prevailing custom, the queen wanted to go to her parent's home for delivery. She expressed her desire to Shuddhodana. The king made all the arrangements for the queen to visit her father's kingdom in Lumbini in Nepal.

The journey was long and tiring. And then the pains began.

Queen Mahamaya moved to a grove along with her retinue. With her maids' assistance, she stood holding on to the branch of a sal tree and delivered the child from her side. The year was 583 BCE. A gentle rain fell on the mother and the child to cleanse them.

The child was named Siddhartha, which means "he who has attained his goals."

The Prophecy

Sadly, Mahamaya died only seven days after Siddhartha's birth. After that Siddhartha was raised by his mother’s kind sister, Mahaprajapati.

Asita, a well-known sooth-sayer in Shuddhodhana's kingdom, prophesied that Siddhartha would be a great emperor or a great sage and a savior of humanity.

The thought that his son could become a sage made the king very anxious. He wanted Siddhartha to carry on his own royal traditions.

To keep Siddhartha's mind from other-worldly thoughts, the king did not permit him to move out of the palace or witness the miseries of poverty, sickness or old age.

Early Years of Siddhartha and His Marriage

Siddhartha grew up to be strong and well trained in the arts of war. At the age of 16, he married a beautiful princess called Yashodhara from the neighboring kingdom. In the course of time, a son called Rahul was born to them.

The Prince reached the age of 29 with little experience of the world outside the walls of his opulent palaces.

A Peep At The Outside World

One day, overcome with curiosity, Prince Siddhartha asked his charioteer Channa to take him on a ride through the countryside. On these journeys he was shocked by the sight of an aged man, then a sick man, and then a corpse. The stark realities of life sickened the Prince.

Finally, he saw a wandering ascetic. The charioteer explained that the ascetic was one who had renounced the world and sought release from fear of death and suffering.

Disenchantment With Opulence

One night he wandered the palace alone. The luxuries that had once pleased him now seemed distasteful. Prince Siddhartha reflected on the old age, disease, and death that would overtake them all and turn their bodies to dust.

He realized then that he could no longer be content living the life of a prince. That very night he took one last look at his sleeping wife and son.

Siddhartha Becomes a Wandering Monk

With the help of Channa, he left the palace on his favorite horse Kanthaka and crossed the river Anoma. Then he gave all the ornaments, robes and other personal belongings to Channa and bade him return to the palace.

With the decision to live like a mendicant, Siddhartha shaved off his head.

Thus began Siddhartha's quest for enlightenment. Siddhartha was 29 years old then.


Kapilavastu, Life Of Buddha, Lumbini, Mahamaya, Shuddhodana, Siddhartha, Yashodhara

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author avatar Uma Shankari
I write on society, relationships, travel, health, nutrition and fitness.
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author avatar Jerry Walch
29th Jul 2012 (#)

This was really interesting. I'm looking forward to part 2.

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author avatar Retired
2nd Sep 2012 (#)


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