Tag: siddhartha

Story of the Golden Bowl going upstream

An account narrates a miracle in the Buddha’s life involving a golden bowl. It goes like this:

One day, Buddha had a vivid dream and interpreted it to mean the day he would achieve his enlightenment.

He went to have his meal of the day at the house of a devotee named Sujata. She was a rich noblewoman who believed in charity and providing to bhikkus.

She served him his meal in a golden bowl, offering it to him along with the food. Gautama asked her as to what shall he do with the bowl. To which she said that it belonged to him and he can do whatever he wishes with it. He remarked that he had no use of such a bowl, to which she told him that it would be rude of her to not offer the bowl despite offering the food.

Thus, he left with the bowl in his hands. He came across banks of a river and bathed and ate. Now that the bowl was empty, he threw it into the water as he said “If I am to become a Buddha today, then may the bowl go upstream, else let it go with the current.”

The bowl is said to have floated out of the river and have went upstream, eventually disappearing in a whirlpool. Said to have eventually gone to where bowls of previous Buddhas too went when they were emptied and thrown.

Thus, Buddha ventured forth to find a suitable spot along the river to meditate. Evening came and he discovered a tree of Peepal, now considered the Bodhi tree, or the “Tree of Knowledge”.

He came across a man reaping grass. The reaper is said to have given him eight handfuls of grass for his seat.

Gautama then sat under the tree and began meditating with the strongest resolve to attain the supreme truth.

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Buddha’s second teacher – Uddaka Ramaputta

After leaving Alara Kalama, Gautama went in search to find a new teacher. He came across Uddaka Ramaputta, who was well known for his wisdom and meditation techniques.

“Ramaputta” implies that he was either son or disciple of Rama. His predecessor had achieved the highest realm of “jhana” and was able to attain a deep state of mind with meditation.

He expressed his desire to lead Holy Life in solace and became his pupil. However, here too, he soon mastered the teachings and was able to achieve a high level of meditation as taught to him; It is called “N’eva Sanna N’asannayatana” or the realm of neither perception nor Non-perception.

The difference here was that while Alara Kalama had taught to concentrate on ‘nothingness’, Uddaka taught him to enter this state of mind.

Uddaka too was delighted to hear of his pupil’s success. Unlike Alara Kalama, Uddaka Ramaputta invited Gautama to take full charge of all the ascetics and lead them.
Yet, he felt that his aim was not yet achieved. He had attained mastery of his mind but his ultimate goal extended these limits. Ascetics of his day considered this to be the highest level of achievement, even so, it did not satisfy Gautama. Even Uddaka had no heard of somebody who could help him further. Uddaka himself was not enlightened and realised that Gautama’s goal was beyond his confinements of doctrine and teachings.
Still searching for Nirvana/Nibbana, he left his company.

By now he had realised that his aspirations surpassed under those who taught him. He came to understand that nobody could teach him the highest truth unless he searches for it within himself rather than seek external aid. Thus, he endured by himself to seek a means to find a means to end the cycle of suffering.

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Alara Kalama: One of Buddha’s First Teachers

Alara Kalama was one of the first ascetic teachers the Buddha came across in his journey.

As a wandering bhikku, a searcher after what is great, seeking the ultimate Peace, he came across Alara Kalama, a recognized monk, and stated his desire to live a holy life under his guidance. Alara Kalama agreed and let him stay in the abode. Alara Kalama said that his teachings are simple and a smartman can realize them by his own wisdom and contemplation and follow it likewise.
A while later, he had learnt his teachings, however they presented to him no acknowledgment of the most astounding Truth.

At that point there came to him the idea that the doctrine is not just based on faith. When Alara Kalama himself agrees that anybody can understand it with their own endeavours and follow it; undoubtedly, Alara Kalama lives having comprehended and seen this teaching.

So he went to him and asked “How far does this teaching of intuitive wisdom extend to?”. Alara Kalama told him about the Realm of Nothingness (Akincannayatana), a advance phase of Concentration.

He thought that while his teacher possessed confidence, power, focus, and knowledge, he too had those qualities. Likewise, he also understood the doctrine which his guru had arrived at.

Thus, he realised that while he understands the doctrine, it is not helping him realise his goal. He sought the higher Truth of life.
He then approached Alara Kalama and asked him if his doctrine was limited to this extent, he wanted to learn more.

Kalama was glad to hear how much Siddhartha had achieved. He honoured him by offering him to lead his company of ascetics.

Siddhartha Gautama was not content. He sought more than just mental concentration, he wanted to cease disgust, suffering, and achieve detachment and calmness. He was not anxious to lead the company too, yet he felt the need to perfect himself before he does something similar. He likened it to blind leading the blind and politely took his leave.

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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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Renunciation of the Buddha : Siddhartha leaves the Palace

Prince Siddhartha’s renunciation soon took place after the birth of his son Rahula. He affirmed his decision to leave after a feast failed to distract him.

Suddhodana organised a great feast for the young prince to celebrate the birth of his son, Rahula. The best dancers and musicians in the country were invited to perform. It was not out of delight that Suddhodana arranged it. He saw that Siddhartha was unhappy and that his new infant child was not giving him joy. The king was worried about the prince’s plans to leave the Palace. For the last time, he tried his best to divert him far from his solemn reflections.
Siddhartha went to the gathering just to satisfy his father. Siddhartha was worn out from his thoughts and he soon nodded off.

The performers soon stopped and they too rested when they saw this. Soon thereafter, the prince arose, stunned to see these people asleep. All the best performers and entertainers in the kingdom were now in such positions. These same people, who, hours prior, were endeavoring to make the prince so cheerful were now snoring loudly, some crushing and biting their teeth, they were tired from the effort. This change in their appearance made Siddhartha much more sickened and sad. He thought how oppressive it was. His mind turned again towards leaving the castle. He got up silently from the room and, woke up Channa, and made a request to saddle Kanthaka, his steed.

As Channa was saddling up Kanthaka, Siddhartha went to see his infant child for the first time. Yasodhara was laying down with the child next to her, her hand laying on the infant’s head. Siddhartha thought that if he attempts to move her hand so he can hold the baby for one final hug, he might wake her and she will keep him from his renunciation. He should leave at any cost, however, when he has discovered what he seeks, he shall return and see them once more.

Discreetly, Siddhartha left. At midnight, and the ruler was on his white steed Kanthaka with Channa, his loyal servant, held its tail. No one halted him as he rode far from all who knew, regarded and cherished him. He looked at the city of Kapilavastu one last time in the moonlight. He was renouncing his life to figure out to understand old age, disease and death. He rode to the bank of the stream Anoma (“celebrated”) and got off from his steed. He took off his adornments and royal garments and offered them to Channa to take them back to Suddhodhana. He then took his sword and trimmed off his long hair, wore simple robes, took a begging bowl and requested Channa to return with Kanthaka. Channa was asked to tell the king about his renunciation and that he shall return only when he had found the truth.

Channa was reluctant to return, but he began to go, however Kanthaka won’t follow him. The prince tried to persuade him, but Kanthaka won’t budge. Kanthaka figured that he might never see his master again. Kanthaka died of sadness as Siddhartha vanished into the horizon.

Thus was the renunciation.

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Monk : The sight which gave Buddha inspiration

The sight of a monk was the last of the four sights which compelled the Buddha to seek a means to end suffering and eventually be enlightened.
After numerous days of consideration and pain, Siddhartha went to the city for the fourth time. As he was heading to the park, he saw a man wearing an orange shaded robe. He asked Channa about the man in robes. Channa told him that the robed man was a monk. He was enthralled by the ascetic in saffron robes. The monk’s serene strides, calm face, tranquility and the look of being unbound from the world. The Prince wondered how brilliant it would be, to become a Samanna. At that point it struck Him, this is the path, to go in seeking for the truth. He knew, when one doesn’t have anything to own, one feels free. In this manner, letting the characteristics of the psyche to develop and appear, bringing peace, and the acknowledgment of the cause of suffering.

Living in the Palace could never give the freedom of the monk. It would, however, be a deterrent to the path of freedom and truth. He made plans to leave the Palace and turn into a sammana(wandering monk), and carry on with an ascetic life, endeavoring until discovering the cause of suffering. By doing so, he could help everybody live a tranquil and content life. Resolved to do that, the Prince came back to the Palace.

He strolled for a while to think some more. As he was sitting under the cool shady tree, news came that his wife had given birth to a son. When he heard the news he stated, “An obstruction (“rahula”) has been destined to me, a barrier to my abandonment has been conceived,”. Along these lines, his child was named Rahula. Rahula implies a block in way. A newborn child implies a barrier on the way to become a monk.

As he was coming back to the palace he met a Princess named Kisagotami. She had been watching out of the castle window and, seeing the sovereign coming, was so taken by his attractive looks that she said uproariously, “Gracious! How cheerful must be the mother, and father, and the spouse of such a nice looking youthful prince!”

As he passed this lady, Siddhartha heard this and pondered internally, “In a nice looking figure the mother, father and spouse discover bliss. Be that as it may, but how can one escape snags and enduring to achieve nirvana?”. He understood what he should do after this question and decided to abandon his family life and resign from the world in journey of illumination. He sent her a teacher’s fee. Siddhartha respected his pledge and sent it to Kisagotami to appreciate what she unknowingly taught him.

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Death: the Third of the Four Sights

The third of the four sights which influenced the Buddha and compelled him to seek a means to enlightenment was death. More specifically, witnessing a dead corpse. Living a sheltered life, he was unaware of death and that nobody could escape it.

Siddhartha was disappointed and discouraged. He was often found in deep contemplation in his room after seeing the diseased man. Suddhodhana was pitiful after seeing him so changed. The prince soon approached him again for his consent to leave the castle to witness more things about the life in the city. Suddhodhana knew there would come no good by attempting to stop his child. So, he agreed to let him go again.

Siddhartha and Channa went out from the royal residence and strolled in many parts of Kapilvastu dressed as young aristocrats. The prince saw a group of people tagging along the road crying, while four men at the back were bearing a board on which a thin man lay level and still. The carried man resembled a stone, never letting out the slightest breath. The group soon ceased and the board bearers rested the man down on a heap of wood and set the wood ablaze. The man did not move as the flares were consuming the board, and afterward his body, from all sides.

Siddhartha asked Channa about it. He wondered why that man was burned like that. Channa answered that the man had died. The prince learned that everybody dies, even rulers, and nothing can stop death.

The prince was stunned. He thought about death and how it comes to everybody, sparing nobody. Was there no real way to stop it? He went home quiet. He went straight to his own room in the royal residence and sat somewhere down in thought for the remaining day.

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Sickness / Disease : the second of the Four Sights

Second of the four sights was sickness.

Suddodhana unwillingly enabled Siddhartha to visit the city again. He figured that it would not be good to stop him, and would just add to his perplexity and despondency. Suddodhana did not warn the people to be prepared or to decorate the city this time. The prince and Channa disguised themselves as young noblement so they are not recognized.

The city was very different from their last visit. No more blissful groups of people hailed the prince. There were no banners, or flowers, yet common-people carrying on with their day by day life. A metal forger was sweating and beating to make blades. The gem dealers and goldsmiths were making pieces of jewelry, bangles, studs and rings out of precious stones, gold and silver. The garments dyers were coloring materials of stunning shading and hanging them up to dry. The pastry specialists were hectically preparing bread, cakes and desserts and pitching them to the clients, who ate them still hot. The ruler took a gander at these straightforward everyday citizens. Everybody was extremely occupied, glad and satisfied in their work.

As the two strolled along they went over a man on the ground, curling his body, holding his stomach with two hands and shouting out in torment as loud as possible. Everywhere all over his body were purple fixes, and he was panting for breath as his eyes rolled. His sickness made him suffer greatly.

This was the second time that the Prince was very sad. Immediately, the prince rushed to help and rested the man’s head on his knee, asking what was wrong with him. The diseased man was not able to speak owing to his sickness, yet he cried.
He asked Channa about the reason this man was like this.

Channa warned the prince to not touch the man since he was suffering from the plague and the prince might contract it too. The Prince asked him if there are more people like it, if there are more things than this kind of plague. Channa’s answer confirmed both of these. The Prince was deeply troubled upon further learning that nobody can stop it and it can happen any time to anybody.

The prince was even sadder at the second sight, fixated on the sick man and his suffering.

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Prince Siddhartha marries princess Yasodhara

An significant event in Siddhartha’s life before becoming the Buddha is his marriage to princess Yasodhara.

After Prince Siddhartha achieved the age of 16, King Suddhodhana recalled what the wise men had foretold. He recalled that the Prince would deny lay-life and accept monkhood when he gets older. The King was concerned since he didn’t wanted his child to become a monk. He instead wished him to end up as a great king.

He had built three awesome royal residences for Siddhartha with lovely gardens. One palace for winter, one for summer and one for rainy season. Wherever one looked, there was magnificence and delight. Prince Siddhartha was living in a place of bounty and exquisiteness. It was predicted, that he would leave the palace after seeing: an old man, a sick man, a dead body and a roaming monk who had surrendered the lay life.

In this way, the King took every one of the measures to secure the youthful sovereign from such sights. He forbade wandering monks around the inward parts of the city. It is not that he did not see anyone ill inside the royal residence, even when they were ill, they didn’t look terrifying, and soon showed signs of improvement. This did not suggest that life is full of sufferings and people are powerless where illness, death, and old age are concerned.

Even so, despite his protected life the King saw the prince frequently in a pensive mood. This stressed him. He asked the wise men as to what he should do to make him cheerful and enjoy life. They suggested to marry him to a beautiful girl to distract him from his thoughts. The King considered this to be a brilliant idea.

Despite that, the Prince told the counselors that the he didn’t wanted a girl who was hedonistic. He didn’t care whether the young lady is from ranks of nobles or not, but she must have honorable qualities required to be his wife. He listed characteristics his significant other ought to have and offered it to the wise men. Many young noble girls were invited to the royal residence, the Prince could pick whoever he prefers. Among them was the most enchanting excellent Koliyan Princess named Yasodhara. When Prince Siddhartha saw her, he removed his neckband and put it round her neck. By this signal, the King realized that his child liked her the most, and was extremely cheerful to give him a chance to wed his picked bride.

However, King Suppabuddha, the bride’s father, did not like this thought. He said that Prince Siddhartha, resembles a girl, who evaded conflict and going into war. He contended that his daughter won’t be in safe hands with such a husband. As he disapproved of wars, he won’t be able to save his nation and his family from its foes.

Yasodhara was a princess by her own right as well. In that capacity, King Suppabuddha organised a competition among 500 noblemen of the nation, if they wanted to marry princess Yasodhara. He also asked Siddhartha to participate in these competitions and substantiate himself deserving of her hand. At the competition, he outperformed all his contenders in numerous troublesome feats which included jumping, swimming, running, and various other games. Siddhartha won effectively on the mental abilities too.

After the events, Prince Siddhattha, gave a performance with his stallion Kanthaka. They moved at lightning speed performing different acts, which left no doubts on his ability on the arts of warfare. This also showed that he could take care of the kingdom, despite the fact that he despised going into war. Having that sort of mental and physical quality, the people soon understood that no one could match him. He had an unprecedented identity, so far covered up because of his humility, and this made him unrivalled.

There on, King Suppabuddha acknowledged that Prince Siddhartha is a suited match for his daughter Yasodhara. He permitted the Princess to have her decision and wed Prince Siddhartha. The entire city of Kapilavasthu cheered at this marriage. The wedding festivities carried on for seven days. There was a feast at the castle grounds, with singing and dancing throughout the entire day.

The celebration of the royal marriage of Prince Siddharta and Yasodhara

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Ploughing Festival – Incident in Buddha’s life and its legacy

The Ploughing Festival originates from the times when Prince Gautama seven years old. It is also known as Royal Ploughing Ceremony. It was the premise of an ordeal which would later assist him in his search for Enlightenment.
The King  Sudhodana organized a ploughing festival to promote agriculture. It was for sure a merry event for all, as the both nobles and average citizens partook in the function.

The King went to the field on the designated day, joined by his squires. He brought along with him the young child along with the caretakers. The King took part in the furrowing celebration too. He seated young Siddhartha at a place under the cool shade of a singular rose-apple tree to be taken care of by the nurses. The attendants too wandered off from the young prince to get a look at the exhibition when the celebration was at its peak.

It was quiet and calm under the rose-apple tree, contrasting the cheerfulness of the celebration. The conditions were right for meditation, the thoughtful prince, sat with folded legs and grabbed the chance to start the extremely critical routine with regards to purpose : fixation on the breath – on exhalations and inward breaths – which picked up for him without further ado that one sharpness of mind known as Samādhi.

He, in this way, built up the First Jhāna (Ecstasy). His attendants hurried to the child when they understood their obligation, and were astounded to see him sitting leg over leg dove in profound meditation. The King, knowing about it, rushed to the spot and saw the youngster in reflective stance, saluted him, saying – “This child is my second homage”.

The Ploughing Festival in Theravada Countries

The Ploughing Festival is an ancient royal custom held in many South East Asian countries, signifying the traditional beginning of the rice growing season. The royal ploughing ceremony was also a custom in Myanmar before colonization until the monarchy was abolished in 1885.

As of now, the festival is practiced in Thailand, Cambodia and Sri Lanka.

Royal Ploughing Festival

The Ritual

It is usually held in the month of May. Buddhist monks sit with folded legs near a Buddha statue looking down on the rice ploughing. White oxen pull decorated plough as they are followed by people playing music and bearing banners. Then the Lord of the Festival digs three short furrows rice is sown in them.

The oxen are offered food after the ploughing, including rice, green beans, sesame, corn, fresh-cut grass, water and rice whisky.

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