Books by Buddha
Books about Buddha

Biography: Buddha

Buddha, who is also known as Siddhartha (his given name), Gautama (his family name) and Sakyamuni (sage of the Sakya) was born in Kapilavastu, now in southern Nepal. His father Suddhodana was a rajah of the Sakya clan. His mother Maya died a few days after his birth. At the age of nineteen Gautama was married to the beautiful princess Yasodhara, who bore him a son Rahula. After ten years Gautama ventured out of his cloistered estate and, according to the traditions, saw for the first time an old man, a sick man, a dead man and an ascetic. So struck was he by these sights that he abandoned his family to become a wandering monk.

After six years of searching for peace through asceticism, Gautama came to the town of Uruvela in northeastern India. There he sat under the Bodhi tree (a gigantic fig tree) and determined to stay until he received Enlightenment. Forty-nine days later he was illuminated, becoming the Buddha, which means "Enlightened One." Buddha preached his first sermons in Benares when he was thirty-five. He succeeded in converting his ascetic companions, then his parents and his wife, and eventually King Bimbisara.

Buddha's teachings may be summarized in the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. The Four Noble Truths are (1) suffering exists, (2) suffering has a cause, (3) suffering can be eliminated, (4) ways to eliminate suffering. Buddha taught that all that exists is impermanent and that lasting happiness cannot be found in samsara, the temporal world of change. The way to Nirvana is to eliminate desire, which is the cause of suffering. Desire is not eliminated by gratification nor by mortification but by the Middle Way of the Eightfold Path, which involves (1) right views, (2) aspirations, (3) speech, (4) conduct, (5) livelihood, (6) effort, (7) mindfulness and (8) contemplation.

Legends ascribe all kinds of miracles to Buddha: By washing his hands over the seed of a ripe mango, he caused a tree to spring up fifty-hands high. Once he flew into the sky with fire and water streaming from various parts of his body. He performed these miracles, according to a Jataka account, to dispel the gods' doubts about his mission.

n his eightieth year as he traveled near Benares, Buddha became mortally ill after a meal of pork, perhaps from dysentary [sic]. According to the Mahaparanibbana Sutta his last words to a disciple were these:

I have reached my sum of days…. It is only, Ananda, when the Tathagata [a title of Buddha] ceasing to attend to any outward thing, or to experience any sensation,becomes plunged in that devout meditation of the heart which is concerned with no material object - it is only then that the body of the Tathagata is at ease.

Elsewhere in this sutta the Buddha is said to have added, "Therefore, O Ananda, be ye lamps unto yourselves. Be ye a refuge to yourselves. Betake yourselves to no external refuge. Hold fast to the truth as a lamp." After his death Buddha was cremated and his ashes distributed among eight cities. His alleged remains are venerated at various stupas, or shrines, throughout Asia.



Home First Novel Award Past Winners Subscription Back Issues Timescroll Advertizing Rates
Amazon.ca/Books in Canada Bestsellers List Books in Issue Books in Department About Us