The Buddha, from Birth to Enlightenment


On the full moon day of May ( Vesakha ) in the year 623 B.C.( some 2600 years ago ) the Buddha was born in the Lumbini Park, at Kapilavatthu ( Kapilvastu ), on the Indian borders of present Nipal in the Himalayan foothills. The father was King Suddhodana and the mother was Queen Maha Mayawho died seven days after his birth. His aunt, Maha Pajapati Gotami, who was also married to the King, adopted him. When he was born, he displayed thirty two Lakshana or signs designating a " Mahapurush-greatman- and a Chakravartin-Universal Victor. The newly born prince walked seven steps and said, " AGGOHAM ASMI LOKASSA" meaning " Chief am I in this world ". The King's royal tutor, Asita also known as Kaladevala, and the youngest of the eight famous brahmins, called Kondanna, predicted that the prince would become a Buddha. The prince was given the name of Siddhatta on the fifth day after his birth. His family name was Gotama.


When he was only sixteen, Prince Siddhatta married his cousin Princess Yasodhara who was also known as Badda-Cancana. He led a happy and luxurious married life for nearly thirteen years.

The Great Renunciation

On one glorious day, the prince went out of the palace to a park where he saw a decrepit old man, a diseased person, a dead body and a dignified hermit. These four great sights drove him to loathe and renounce the world.

His only son was born on the same day and the news of the birth was conveyed to him when he was about to leave the park. Prince Siddhatta exclaimed --" An Impediment ( rahu ) has been born ". The infant was named Rahula by his grandfather.

Prince Siddhatta made his historic journey in his twenty-ninth year, after ordering his charioteer Channa to prepare the horse Kanthaka, leaving all the royal household behind him on the Vesakha full moon day at midnight. He crossed the river Anoma, shaved his hair and sent Channa back to the Palace. Now he became the ascetic Bodhisatta with no permanent abode. All he possessed was a begging bowl and robes to cover the body.

Enlightenment after six years of struggle

For the next six years, the ascetic Gotama practised all forms of austerity. His body was reduced to almost skeleton and on the verge of death. Then, he realised that physical fitness was essential for the spiritual progress. So, he started taking some food. The five ascetics who were with him all the time were disappointed at this change of course and deserted him.

After regaining his lost strength, he developed the first Jhana ( Ecstasy ). Then he achieved the second, third and fourth Jhanas. In the first watch of the night, he remembered the successive series of his previous births (pubbe-nivasanussati nana ) In the middle watch of the night, he perceived beings disappearing from one state of existence and reappearing in another ( cutupapata nana ). In the last watch of the night, he realized the third knowledge regarding the comprehension of the cessation of the corruptions (asavakkhhaya nana ).So at the age of thirty five on the full moon day of Vesakha ( May ), he became a Buddha, more precisely a Samma Sambuddha, a fully-enlightened Buddha. He is also the accomplished one ( Tathagata ) as well as the worthy one ( Araham ).

More on the Buddha by the Late Venerable Ashin Thittila

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