> Digital Library > Multimedia
Documentation > Jataka Stories > The
Story of Gotama Buddha
The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha by C.B. Varma
|071 - Gotama Buddha (563 - 483 B.C)|
Born of King
Suddhodana and his chief consort Maha Maya, Siddhattha Gotama lived in
great comfort and luxury in three palaces, namely, Ramma, Suramma and
Subha for twenty-nine years in the kingdom of Kapilavatthu (Sanskritised:
Kapilavastu) until he resolved to renounce the worldly life.
Before his conception he lived in the Tusita heaven and waited for the most opportune moment to be born on the earth. He was born in the grove of Lumbini, when his mother was on her way to Devadaha to visit her parents under a sal tree on the full moon day of the Visakha month (around May). Sage Asita (Kaladevala) visited him by breaking his meditation in the Himalayas when he heard of his birth from the devas of the Tavatimsa.
Asita was delighted to see the baby Siddhattha as he was destined to be a Buddha; but wept because he was not to live long to hear his discourses. On the fifth day, when the name-giving-ceremony was being celebrated with the participation of one hundred and eight Brahmins: seven of them, namely, Rama, Dhaja, Lakkhana, Manti, Bhoja, Suyama and Sudatta predicted that the baby would either be an emperor of emperors (Chakkavatti); or a Buddha. But Kondanna, the youngest of them had said that the baby would definitely be a Buddha. The baby was given the name Siddhattha.
after the delivery of Siddhattha, Mahamaya, his mother died. Maha Pajapati,
the sister of Mahamaya, who, too, along with Mahamaya was married to Suddhodana
on the same day, nurtured him.
When the prince was sixteen years old he summoned an assembly of the Sakiyans and demonstrated various feats of a great warrior. According to the Sarabhanga Jataka he performed twelve feats with a bow, which required the strength of one thousand men to be lifted. Further, according to the legends the Sakiyans were so impressed by his feats that he was offered the hands of forty thousand Sakiyan maidens in marriage. The princess of Suppabuddha, named Bimbaa (who was also called Bhaddakacchaa, Subhaddakaa and Yasodharaa [Sanskrit and Hindi: Yashodhara] and popularly known as Rahulamata [Mother of Rahula]), however, became his chief wife.
At the age of
twenty-nine having realised the triviality of the worldly life -
particularly after encountering the four sights, viz., the sight of a
diseased person; an old man; a dead body; and a recluse – he eventually
renounced the worldly life to lead the life of a recluse. Then crossing
the three kingdoms of the Sakiyans, Koliyans and Mallas he crossed the
river Anoma and cut off his hair and beard. Then he sent his charioteer
Channa and his horse Kanthaka back to his father. The horse, however,
could not bear the pain of separation from his master and died. Since then
Siddhattha wandered from place to place, such as, Anupiya mango grove,
Rajgir and so on in quest of the Truth.
In course of his
quest, he approached Alara Kalama to learn the methods of spiritual
practices to realise the truth. When dissatisfied with the Alara he turned
to Uddaka Ramaputta. But he was not satisfied with his doctrine as well.
Later, he went to
Senanigama in Uruvela and practised severe penances for six years along
with five ascetics, who later became popular as ‘Pancha-vaggiya bhikkhus’.
Having realised the folly of extreme austerity he took recourse to normal
food. This made the five ascetics desert him and depart to Isipatana Park
Sujata satisfied the
Siddhattha’s desire for the normal food by offering him milk rice in a
golden bowl on the full moon day of the Visakha month. That day he bathed
in the river Niranjara; ate the food; and left the bowl in the stream,
which sank to the abode of the Naga king Kala. He then spent the day in
the sal grove. In the evening he
came to the Bodhi tree. There Sotthiya, a grass cutter, offered him eight
handfuls of grass, which he placed eastward and sat cross-legged on it
with a firm resolve to meditate until the attainment of his Enlightenment.
Then all the divinities including Maha Brahma appeared there to honour
him. But when Mara and his army attacked him; and their sight frightened
them they all fled. Only the ten Paramis (or Perfections) like that of
charity and righteousness, which he had mastered in various births, stood
by him to defeat and rout the forces of Mara. When Gotama emerged
victorious by defeating Mara, those devas,
who had fled at the sight of Mara, reassembled there to celebrate the
victory of the great sage.
engrossed in meditation remembered his former existences in the first
watch of the night; attained the divine eye (dibba
chakkhu) in the second watch of night; and realised the Chain of
Causation (Paticchasamuppada) in the third watch of night. When he
mastered Paticchasamuppada the earth trembled. Finally, at dawn he
He enjoyed the blissful meditation of paticchasamuppada for seven days while sitting under the Bodhi tree. He spent the second week at the foot of the Ajapala Nigrodha tree, where he was accosted by a haughty Brahmin; and defeated the three daughters of Mara, namely, Tanha, Arati and Raga, who took the last chance to dissuade him.
He spent the
third week under the hood of the Naga king Muchalinda; and the fourth week
under the Rajayatana tree where he converted Tapussa and Bhallika even
without imparting any instruction.
He was then approached by Brahma Sahampati to profess his teachings to the world, as there are several receptive minds to appreciate his doctrine, and thereby, set the wheel of the dhamma in motion to uplift the world. The Buddha acceded to the request of Brahma Sahampati. He then walked to Isipatana Migadaya (the Deer Park) at Sarnath to deliver his first sermon to the five select ascetics, popularly known as Panchavaggiya bhikkhus, who happened to be his ascetic companions for six years in Uruvela.
Gotama among eight Buddhas on the panel of Ajanta. cave17; Ajanta
Copyright IGNCA© 2002