The below mentioned article provides a short biography of Gautama Buddha.
Gautama Buddha was a contemporary of Mahavira. Gautama Buddha’s royal name was Siddhartha. He was the son of Suddhodhana, the Chief of Sakya clan of Kapilvastu in the Nepal Tarai area. He was born in 566 B.C. in the village of Lumbini a few miles from Kapilvastu.
Siddhartha lost his mother at the time of his birth and was brought up by his aunt and step-mother. Right from his childhood Siddhartha showed inclination towards contemplation. He loved seclusion and avoided the company of his play-mates.
He spent most of his time meditating over the various human problems. His father Suddhodhana tried to attract him towards worldly objects and married Siddhartha to a beautiful princess, Yashodhara, the daughter of a Sakya noble.
He provided all possible pleasures and luxuries to the young Siddhartha so that he could get involved in the worldly affairs. But Siddhartha was not happy with all this. He continued to concentrate on problems of birth, old age, sickness, sorrow and impurity.
At the age of 29 he was blessed with a son but he did not feel happy, instead he considered it as a bond. Soon after the birth of his son he left his home in search of truth and became a wandering ascetic. This renunciation by Buddha is known as Maha Parityaga.
After leaving his house Gautama Buddha went to Vaishali. He lived with the famous Philosopher Adara Kalama but was not satisfied with his teachings. He therefore moved to Rajgriha, and met Rudraka and other philosophers. But here also he did not get satisfaction. After this Siddhartha practiced severest penances for six years and reduced himself to a skeleton, but he did not get any satisfaction.
He gave up penance and took bowl of milk offered to him by village girl, Sujata. He then sat under Pipal tree and said, “Let my skin, my nerves and bones waste away, let my life hood dry up, I will not leave this posture until I have perfect attainment.”
He remained in meditation for seven days and seven nights and was ultimately enlightened on the eighth day. On the day of enlightenment he came to be known as Buddha or Tathagat. Siddhartha discovered the Law of Causation, a cycle of twelve causes and effects conditioning the universe. This Law had not been thought of by any philosopher before him.
After his enlightenment Gautama decided to preach the knowledge to the people for their benefit. First of all, he went to Banaras and Sarnath which were great centres of learning in those days. First of all, at Sarnath he preached to the five Monks who had left him in despair.
He taught them the middle path i.e. an ascetic should avoid feeling extremes. He should neither addict himself to the pleasure of services nor of self-mortification and so he (Gautama) set in motion his ‘dharma-chakra’.
These five monks were greatly impressed by his teachings and became his disciples again. Thus the foundation of the Buddha Sangha was laid. Then Buddha visited Rajgriha, where he was accorded a warm welcome by the King Bimbsara. From here he moved to Saravasti, the capital of Kosala.
At Kosala, King Prasenjit became his disciple. Then Gautama proceeded to Kapilvastu where large number of people became his disciples, including his wife, Yashodhara and his son Rahul. Buddha concentrated his activities in Magadha and preached his message to a large number of people.
The other places where his message was received with great admiration were Kashi, Kosala, Vajji, Avanti etc. Buddha continued to preach his message till his death in 487 B.C. His last words were “Now, monks I have nothing more to tell you but that all that is composed is liable to decay, strive after salvation energetically.”