The life of the Buddha

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The life of the Buddha

The Buddha was the founder of Buddhism but is not seen as a God. The Buddha was an actual person who lived approximately 2,500 years ago (563-483 BCE)

It is difficult to separate myth and legend from fact, and the story of Siddhattha Gotama (Pali- Theravada) Siddhartha Gautama (Sanskrit – Mahayana) is no exception. There is a lot of symbolism in this story that leads to a greater understanding of Buddhist beliefs and practices.

The dream, conception and birth

King Suddhodana ruled a land near the Himalaya Mountains. One day during a midsummer festival, his wife Queen Mya rested. Once asleep she dreamed a vivid dream. Four angels carried her high into white mountain peaks and clothed her in flowers. A magnificent white elephant bearing a white lotus in its trunk approached Maya and walked around her three times. Then the elephant struck her on the right side with its trunk and vanished into her.

When Maya awoke, she told her husband about the dream. The king summoned many Brahmans/Priests to come and interpret it. His future destiny was foretold at his birth by an old Brahmin sage called Asita, he said Queen Maya would give birth to a son and if the son did not leave the palace he would become a great ruler. However, if he were to leave the palace he would become a Buddha (religious teacher).

When the time came for the birth of Prince Siddhartha, Queen Maya travelled from the capital to her childhood home to give birth. With the king’s blessings she left on a palanquin carried by a thousand courtiers.

On the way, the procession passed Lumbini Grove, which was full of blossoming trees. Entranced, the Queen asked her courtiers to stop, and she left the palanquin and entered the grove. As she reached up to touch the blossoms, she gave birth, standing up with no pain.

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