THE BIRTH OF THE BUDDHA

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THE BIRTH OF THE BUDDHA

THE BIRTH OF THE BUDDHA

The birth of a Buddha is a very rare occasion and, whenever it occurs, it brings great happiness to the world. The birth of our Lord Buddha has been the greatest blessing in the whole history of mankind.

“Buddha” is a Pali word. It is not a name, but a title meaning the “Enlightened One”

or the “Awakened One.” The Buddha’s personal name was Siddhattha and his clan name was Gotama. Thus he was also referred to as “Siddhattha Gotama” (Skt. Siddhartha Gautama). Few, however, use these names; people usually call him the Buddha.

Long, long ago, in the sixth century B.C., near the Himalayas was a city called Kapilavatthu. It was the capital of the Sakyans, a tribe of the Aryan race that lived chiefly in the North of India. Suddhodana was then their king (raja). His chief consort was Maaha Maya (or simply “Maya”). They both belonged, by general existing convention, to the warrior or ruling caste, the highest in the caste hierarchy of the days. This fine royal couple was eventually destined to become the parents of the greatest man ever born – the Buddha.

On the fullmoon day of the month Visakha (April-May) in the year 623 B.C., a son was born to them in Lumbini Park near Kapilavatthu. Five days later, amid much rejoicing and celebration, a grand ceremony took place in the palace and the infant was given the name Siddhattha, signifying thereby the fulfilment of his parent’ long-cherished dreams and aspirations.

In accordance with the custom of the time, many learned Brahmins were invited to the palace for the naming ceremony. Among them were eight men of distinguished erudition. Examining the physical signs of the child, seven of them predicted that he would become either a Universal Monarch or a Buddha. But Kondanna, the youngest, who excelled all the others in knowledge, declared that he would definitely renounce the world and become

the Buddha.

India in the sixth century B.C. was divided into sixteen states (janapada), each with its own ruler and government. The subcontinent was rich and prosperous, and rivalry among the more powerful states for economic and political supremacy was common, which at times erupted into military struggle and war. It was generally characterized by advanced civilization and spiritual unrest. Brahmanism was the dominant force, but non Brahmanic philosophical systemes were also being developed. Men were engaged in spiritual pursuit. Practicing and teaching what they held to be of the highest values. It was born and it was amongst such people that he later preached during his mission years.

 

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