Gautam Buddha: Real Name, Life and Teachings

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Gautam Buddha

Gautam Buddha was also known as Siddartha Gautama. Buddha means “a person who is awake”. Buddha was the founder of Buddhism. He lived in ancient India around the 6th to 4th century BCE. He was a spiritual leader whose teachings on meditation, mindfulness and compassion had a life-changing impact on millions of people around the world. In this blog, we will learn more about the early life, teachings and the foundation of Buddhism by Gautam Buddha.

What was the Real Name of Gautam Buddha?

The real name of Buddha was Siddharth Gautam. Siddharth Gautam was born into a royal family of the Shakya dynasty. The dynasty was a royal family in the region of Kapilavastu, now in present-day Nepal. 

The Early Life

  • Gautam Buddha or Siddhartha Gautama was born in Lumbini in present-day Nepal, in 563 BCE as believed by tales.
  • He was born as the prince and son of King Suddhodana and Queen Maya.
  • According to the legends, his birth was predicted to be either a great king or a great spiritual leader.
  • Due to his noble birth, Siddhartha was provided with a life of luxury and comfort. He was shielded from the harsh realities of life and was raised in opulence with a sheltered upbringing.

Education of Gautama Buddha

  • As a prince, Gautam Buddha received a privileged education.
  • He was trained in various subjects including martial arts, literature, mathematics, and philosophy.
  • Even after having a luxurious life, he felt a deep sense of dissatisfaction and began searching for the meaning of life.
  • Despite his learnings, Siddhartha felt dissatisfied as he realized that mere intellectual knowledge did not provide solutions to the existential questions he sought to answer.

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When did he feel the Spiritual Awakening?

He was married to Yasodhara who was the daughter of King Suppabuddha and Amita, and together they had a son whose name was Rahula. Later, the two of them became the disciples of Buddha.

  • At the age of 29, Gautam Buddha left his palace.
  • Siddhartha felt an inner calling to seek answers to the true nature of life and suffering.
  • He renounced his royal status, adopted an ascetic lifestyle, and sought out various spiritual teachers.
  • After years of intense meditation and self-discipline, he achieved enlightenment at the age of 35.

The tale attached to his awakening is one day when he was riding in a carriage outside his palace, he first saw a sick man, then an old man and then a corpse. This shook him deep in his heart and he realized that his privileges were just temporary possessions. And that he cannot protect himself from sickness, old age and death. But he was curious as to why all these sufferings are there in the world. Thus, he went on to seek enlightenment and get his answers. 

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Who was the First Teacher of Gautama Buddha?

  • After departing from his father’s court, a hermit named Alara Kalama who was a teacher of Samkhya philosophy and meditation is believed to be the first teacher of Gautama Buddha, according to Pali Canon.
  • After attaining the knowledge of meditation and the Dhyanic State (Sphere of Nothingness), he equalled his teacher. 
  • Thus, later left in quest of enlightenment while also managing the co-leader position of Alara Kalama Community.
  • It is believed, that he found Uddaka Ramaputta and accepted him as his second teacher.
  • Ramaputta taught Gautama the refined state of meditation which is also known as the Dhyanic State of Formless Attainment 
  • Ramaputta realized that Buddha had attained the stage of nevasaññānāsaññāyatana. This meditation helped to attain the “sphere of neither perception nor non-perception”, which even he had not achieved. Thus asked Buddha to be a leader for his students.

Later, it is believed that Buddha was not satisfied and understood that the way to elevate the mind and the path to peace could be only through Mental discipline. At Bodh Gaya, he sat beneath a Ficus tree in a meditative position until he awakened or realized enlightenment.

Fun Fact – The Ficus tree is named “The Bodhi Tree”

Fun Fact – After his enlightenment, he was known as Buddha.

What were the Teachings of Buddha?

Gautama Buddha founded Buddhism and his teachings are widely accepted as a major theory for enlightenment.

  1. Enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree: After years of intense spiritual practice, Siddhartha attained enlightenment or Nirvana under the Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya, Bihar. This marked the beginning of his journey as Gautam Buddha.
  2. The Middle Way: Buddha’s teachings centred around the concept of the Middle Way, which emphasized moderation and balance in all aspects of life. He taught that extremes, whether in indulgence or self-mortification, were detrimental to spiritual progress.
  3. The Four Noble Truths: Buddha’s teachings encapsulated the Four Noble Truths which were the foundation of Buddhism. These truths include the existence of suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path to the cessation of suffering.
  4. The Eightfold Path: Gautam Buddha expounded the Eightfold Path, which outlined the ethical and practical guidelines for individuals seeking enlightenment. This path consists of the right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
  5. Spread of Buddhism: Buddha’s teachings gained popularity and spread across India and other parts of Asia. Through his disciples and followers, Buddhism became a major religion, attracting a large number of adherents.

Social and Moral Reforms

Buddha advocated for social equality and spoke against the rigid caste system prevalent in ancient India. His teachings emphasized compassion, love, and understanding, promoting harmony among individuals and communities.

Gautam Buddha was not only a spiritual leader but also a profound philosopher and teacher. He delivered numerous sermons and discourses, addressing a wide range of topics related to human suffering, morality, and the nature of existence.

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In conclusion, The teachings of Gautam Buddha continue to inspire millions of people to seek enlightenment and live a peaceful and purposeful life. His quest for truth continues to inspire generations to explore the depths of their own consciousness and find lasting peace.

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