Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Happy Belated Birthday, Buddha!

Photo of painting of Gautama Buddha's first
sermon at the Deer Park - Click the painting
to enlarge

Buddhists celebrate April 8 as the birthday of Gautama Buddha; he was born in 563 B.C. as Prince Siddhartha, the son of the king of the Sakya people.

The prince, it was predicted, would either become a great world monarch or a Buddha--an uber-enlightened teacher. The Brahmans told his father, King Suddhodana, that Siddhartha would become a ruler if he were kept isolated from the outside world.

Siddhartha was brought up in great luxury, and married and fathered a son. But, at age 29, he decided to see more of the world and began excursions off the palace grounds in his chariot.

On his clandestine trips, he saw an old man, a sick man, and a corpse. The prince had been so cloistered that his charioteer had to explain to him about age, illness, and death. Finally, on one of his trips Siddhartha saw a monk and was so impressed that he left the palace and became a wandering ascetic, and The Buddha.

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