Tag: samanna

Struggle for Enlightenment in Uruvela

Prince Siddhartha came to be known as the Ascetic Gautama after taking leave from his second teacher. He wandered from place to place in Magadha and decided to live and practice in the forest of Uruvela. He found the place to be beautiful and worthy to live and meditate in as the forest was calm and pleasant. He thus began his struggle to seek truth by the means of enduring suffering.

5 young men, who too had become ascetics, sought him and eventually met him at his new abode. They were Kondanna, the one who had predicted his Buddhahood, and four sons of other sages: Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahanama and Assaji. They joined his company and decided to struggle together and practice various forms of ritual tortures with him. They looked after him and encouraged him to strive to endure more pains. They were convinced that doing so would eventually lead to his enlightenment.

It was believed that one cannot gain enlightenment unless one is fully detached from pleasures of this world. Interpreting it as instead making one’s body suffer and torment. Thus, the company of these 6 monks did the same and endured various forms of pains.

Gautama practiced fasting, he used to live on a grain of rice a day, and then, nothing at all. This affected his body and he became frail and weak. Among other methods he would practice was the practice of holding one’s breath for a long time until it started to hurt violently. He would later describe his efforts in great details in the Sutras.

For six years, he would endure such practices. He eventually realised that such struggle was futile and he is not getting any wiser or getting close to his goal. He then began to beg for food to build his body back. Upon seeing this, his five companions left him in disappointment.

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Offer made by King Bimbisara of Magadha

The youthful prince meandered from place as a bhikku. He eventually came to Rajgir City, where King Bimbisara of the Magadha Kingdom lived. Siddhartha strolled round the streets asking for food from house to house, with his bowl in his hand, similar to any other samanna. People started to call him “Sakyamuni” the sage of the Sakyas, some others called him “Samanna” or “Ascetic Gotama”. However, he was not called Prince Siddhartha anymore.

He was youthful, handsome, healthy, and neat. He talked compassionate and gracefully. He didn’t request people to give him anything but individuals were cheerful and satisfied to give him food.

A few people went and told the ruler about him. They narrated how a young and polite man, who somehow stood out from the other beggar monks was making rounds of the city.

Upon hearing the name “Gotama”, King Bimbisara knew without doubt that this was the prince of the Shakya kingdom, son of King Suddhodana, his friend. He went up to him and asked him about why he was doing it? If he had a quarrel with his father? For what reason would he go about like this? Bimbisara offered him to remain in his kingdom and rule alongside him with half of Magadha to Siddhartha’s name.

Siddhartha thanked Bimbisara but affirmed his decision and explained that he cherishes his family and everybody. He needed to figure out how to overcome sufferings. Saying so, he left.

Bimbisara made sure that all the wandering Ascetics were protected in his kingdom. He is appreciated in Buddhist writings for his cultural achievements.

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First of the Four Sights : Old Age

Suddodhana tried his best to ensure that Prince Siddhartha would be prepared for the life of a ruler. He had a high wall built around the royal residence, including its parks and gardens, yet Siddhartha was not content with living like detained. One day he expressed his desire to leave the palace and to see how other people live. The young prince was unaware of things such as old age, sickness or death.

The King agreed, but he had arranged for preparations before he would allow him to see the city. He ordered the people to arrange for the prince’s visit by decorating the city and welcoming him as he passes them.

As Siddhartha was passing through the town, unexpectedly, from a little old hovel adjacent to the street, out came an old man with long silver-silver hair, wearing exceptionally old, torn and messy clothes. His face had dried and wrinkled with old age. His depressed eyes were pale and he was going blind. He was teethless too. He got up trembling, grasping at his walking stick with two bowed and thin hands to enable himself to stand.

The old man dragged himself along the road, unaware of all the cheerful environment around him. He was talking weakly, asking people for food. Prince was unable to understand what he was seeing. He had seen an old man of this sort for the first time ever.

He thought that it cannot possibly be a man, he asked his driver Channa about him. He asked why was his body crooked, why he was trembling and why were his hair grey? He wondered what happened to his teeth or what was wrong with his eyes. He asked him if that’s how some people are born.

Channa answered that it was an aged man and he was certainly not born in that manner. He became like this due to his old age. The Prince was not satisfied when told to ignore that man. Channa said that everybody in the world becomes like that man if they live enough to get old.

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Four Sights in Buddha’s life which forced him to abandon royal life

The four sights are four incidents in the legend of Gautama Buddha’s life which eventually made him realise the fleetingness and extreme unsatisfying nature of existence.

According to the legend, before these experiences, Siddhārtha Gautama had been restricted to his royal residence by his father King Suddhodana, who was worried that he would incline toward becoming an ascetic if he encountered the sufferings of life according to the prophecy. Even so, on his first journey out of the royal residence with his charioteer Channa, he witnessed the four sights: an old man, a diseased man, a dead man and an ascetic.

One day, as he left the palace to see the world outside, he saw the sufferings of life. Inside the limited bounds of the palace, he just saw the good side of life, however the darker side, the frequent part of humanity, was intentionally hidden from him. What was rationally imagined by him was witnessed in reality for the first time. On his way to a park, his perceptive eyes met the peculiar sights of an aged man, a sick man, and a dead body.

The initial three sights convincingly demonstrated to him, the relentless idea of life, and the all inclusive infirmity of humankind. The fourth, the monk, suggested the way to conquer the ills of life and to achieve peace. These four surprising sights served to build the inclination in him to detest and disavow the world.

Understanding the uselessness of pleasires, and valuing renunciation, he chose to leave the world looking for Truth and Eternal Peace.

At the point when he decided this, the news of the birth of a child was passed on to him while he was going to leave the park. He was not thrilled, but rather considered his first and sole child as an obstruction. A normal father would have respected the upbeat greetings, however Prince Siddhattha shouted – “An obstacle (rāhu) has been conceived; a shackle has emerged”. The newborn child was in like manner named Rāhula by Suddhodhana.

These perceptions influenced him greatly. They made him understand the sufferings of all creatures, and forced him to start his spiritual life as a samanna. This eventually led to his enlightenment. The spiritual sentiment of direness experienced by Siddhārtha Gautama is alluded to as samvega.

First three of the Four Sights

 

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