Buddha Shakyamuni

Buddha Sanskrit: Awakened) in Buddhism is any being who has become fully awakened (enlightened), and has experienced Nirvana.

In the Pali Canon and the Theravada tradition, the term 'Buddha' usually refers to anyone who has become enlightened (i.e., awakened to the truth, or Dharma) on their own, without a teacher to point out the Dharma, in a time when the teachings on the Four Noble Truths or the Eightfold Path do not exist in the world. By comparison, those who awaken due to the teachings given by a Buddha are known as Arahants, a title also applied to Buddhas. Arahants and Buddhas are the same in the most fundamental aspects of Liberation (Nirvana), but differ in their paramis.

In the Mahayana tradition, the definition of Buddha extends to any being who becomes fully awakened. The Theravada Arhant would be considered a kind of Buddha (although not generally by Mahayana Buddhism itself) in this Mahayana sense, and this usage also occurs once in later (12th century) Theravada literature.

Buddhists do not consider Siddhartha Gautama to have been the only Buddha. The Pali Canon refers to many previous ones (see List of the 28 Buddhas), while the Mahayana tradition additionally has many Buddhas of celestial, rather than historical, origin (see Amitabha or Vairocana as examples). A common Buddhist belief across all Buddhism is that the next Buddha will be one named Maitreya (Pali: Metteyya).

Gautama Buddha; Shakyamuni

Siddhartha Gautama (Sanskrit; Pali: Siddha-ttha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from ancient India and the founder of Buddhism. He is universally recognized by Buddhists as the Supreme Buddha (Samma-sambuddha) of our age. The time of his birth and death are uncertain: a majority of 20th-century historians date his lifetime from circa 563 BCE to 483 BCE, but some more recent scholars have suggested dates around 410 or 400 BCE for his death. This alternative chronology, however, has not yet been accepted by other historians.

Gautama, also known as Shakyamuni (“sage of the Shakyas”, in Pali "s'akamun.i"), is the key figure in Buddhism, and accounts of his life, discourses, and monastic rules were summarized after his death and memorized by the sangha. Passed down by oral tradition, the Tripitaka, the collection of discourses attributed to Gautama, was committed to writing about 400 years later.

Conception and birth

According to tradition, Siddhartha was born more than 200 years before the reign of the Maurya king Ashoka (273–232 BCE).

Siddhartha was born in Lumbini, Ancient India now in modern day Nepal. His father was King Suddhodana, the chief of the Shakya nation, one of several ancient tribes in the growing state of Kosala; Gautama was the family name. His mother, Queen Maha Maya (Ma-ya-devi-) and Suddhodana's wife, was a Koliyan princess. On the night Siddhartha was conceived, Queen Maya dreamt that a white elephant with six white tusks entered her right side, and ten lunar months later Siddhartha was born from her right side (see image right). As was the Shakya tradition, when his mother Queen Maya fell pregnant, she returned to her father's kingdom to give birth, but after leaving Kapilavastu, she gave birth along the way at Lumbini in a garden beneath a sal tree.

Early life and Marriage

Siddhartha, destined to a luxurious life as a prince, had three palaces (one for each season) especially built for him. His father, King S'uddhodana, wishing for Siddhartha to be a great king, shielded his son from religious teachings or knowledge of human suffering. Siddhartha was brought up by his mother's younger sister, Maha Pajapati.

As the boy reached the age of 16, his father arranged his marriage to Yas'odhara- (Pa-li: Yasodhara-), a cousin of the same age. In time, she gave birth to a son, Rahula. Siddhartha spent 29 years as a Prince in Kapilavastu, a place now situated in Nepal. Although his father ensured that Siddhartha was provided with everything he could want or need, Siddhartha felt that material wealth was not the ultimate goal of life.

Great Departure

At the age of 29, Siddhartha left his palace in order to meet his subjects. Despite his father's effort to remove the sick, aged and suffering from the public view, Siddhartha was said to have seen an old man. Disturbed by this, when told that all people would eventually grow old by his charioteer Channa, the prince went on further trips where he encountered, variously, a diseased man, a decaying corpse, and an ascetic. Deeply depressed by these sights, he sought to overcome old age, illness, and death by living the life of an ascetic. Siddhartha escaped his palace, accompanied by Channa aboard his horse Kanthaka, leaving behind this royal life to become a mendicant. It is said that, "the horse's hooves were muffled by the gods" to prevent guards from knowing the Bodhisatta's departure.

Great Enlightenment

After asceticism and concentrating on meditation and Anapana-sati (awareness of breathing in and out), Siddhartha is said to have discovered what Buddhists call the Middle Way—a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification. He accepted a little milk and rice pudding from a village girl named Sujata, who wrongly believed him to be the spirit that had granted her a wish, such was his emaciated appearance.

Then, sitting under a pipal tree, now known as the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, he vowed never to arise until he had found the Truth. Kaundinya and the other four companions, believing that he had abandoned his search and become undisciplined, left. After 49 days meditating, at the age of 35, he attained Enlightenment; according to some traditions, this occurred approximately in the fifth lunar month, and according to others in the twelfth. Gautama, from then on, was known as the Buddha or "Awakened One." Buddha is also sometimes translated as "The Enlightened One." Often, he is referred to in Buddhism as Shakyamuni Buddha or "The Awakened One of the Shakya Clan."

Great Passing

According to the Mahaparinibbana Sutta of the Pali canon, at the age of 80, the Buddha announced that he would soon enter Parinirvana or the final deathless state abandoning the earthly body. After this, the Buddha ate his last meal, which, according to different translations, was either a mushroom delicacy or soft pork, which he had received as an offering from a blacksmith named Cunda. Falling violently ill, Buddha instructed his attendant Ananda to convince Cunda that the meal eaten at his place had nothing to do with his passing and that his meal would be a source of the greatest merit as it provided the last almsmeal for a Buddha.

At his death, the Buddha told his disciples to follow no leader, but to follow his teachings (dharma).

India

India (Hindi: Bha-rat), officially the Republic of India, is a sovereign country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second most populous country, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the west, and the Bay of Bengal on the east, India has a coastline of over 7000 kilometers. It borders Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north-east; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Indonesia.

Home to the Indus Valley civilization and a region of historic trade routes and vast empires, the Indian subcontinent was identified with its commercial and cultural wealth for much of its long history. Four major world religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism originated here, while Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism arrived in the first millennium CE and shaped the region's variegated culture. Gradually annexed by the British East India Company from the early eighteenth century and colonised by the United Kingdom from the mid-nineteenth century, India became a modern nation-state in 1947 after a struggle for independence that was marked by widespread use of nonviolent resistance as a means of social protest.

India is the world's 4th largest economy in terms of purchasing power and the 12th largest economy at market exchange rates. India has made rapid economic progress in the last decade. Although the country's standard of living is projected to rise sharply in the next half-century, it currently battles high levels of poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, and environmental degradation. A pluralistic, multilingual, and multi-ethnic society, India is also home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats.

Flag and Embleem

The flag is a horizontal tricolor of "deep saffron" at the top, white in the middle, and green at the bottom. In the center, there is a navy blue wheel with twenty-four spokes, known as the Ashoka Chakra, taken from the Ashoka pillar at Sarnath. The diameter of this Chakra is three-fourths of the height of the white strip. The ratio of the width of the flag to its length is 2:3. The flag is also the Indian Army's war flag, hoisted daily on military installations.

The Emblem of India is an adaptation from the Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka. Emperor Ashoka the Great erected the capital to mark the spot where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, and where the Buddhist Sangha was founded. In the original, there are four lions, standing back to back, mounted on an abacus with a frieze carrying sculptures in high relief of an elephant, a galloping horse, a bull and a lion separated by intervening wheels over a bell-shaped lotus. Carved out of a single block of polished sandstone, the capital is crowned by the Wheel of the Law (Dharmacakra).

It was adopted on 26 January 1950, the day that India became a republic.

It has four "Indian Lions", resting on a circular abacus. The fourth lion is on the rear and hence hidden from view. The emblem symbolizes power, courage and confidence. The abacus is girded by four smaller animals - guardians of the four directions: the Lion of the north, the Elephant of the east, the Horse of the south and Bull of the west. The abacus rests on a nelumbo nucifera in full bloom, exemplifying the fountainhead of life.