Siddhartha who later became Buddha was born a prince in a rich and lavish kingdom. He was called prince Siddhartha at the time he decided to abandon the comforts of the palace to seek enlightenment. He set forth to attain an understanding of the world which put his mind to rest and embrace the truth. This personal quest in the life of buddha formed the essence of Buddhism.
After attaining nirvana his teachings were indoctrinated as Buddhist teachings and were taught to many disciples. The main focus of Buddhism was to escape the endless cycle of birth and death something which can be reached only by following Buddha’s footsteps.
Gautam Buddha Early Age
When he was a young prince his father had a strong feeling that his son will refuse to abide by the rules of the world.
In his intense quest for enlightenment Siddhartha took to fasting so that his body wasted away. Still this was not the right approach as it only intensified his suffering and did not bring any enlightenment. Gautam Buddha at an early age learned that it was essential to follow a middle path staying clear of both fasting and feasting.
On one fateful day Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree determined to achieve enlightenment through deep meditation. He achieved nirvana which is the state of higher consciousness. Three essential elements of his teachings were compassion, love and tolerance. Moreover, Buddha sternly stated that whoever wants to follow his monastic path must be strictly celibate. Pilgrims eager to follow Buddha’s footsteps must abide by these rules.
Teachings of Lord Buddha for followers and Buddhist monks
Following Buddhas footsteps more and more devotees have learned the following teachings:
Suffering is an inherent part of existence and the origin of suffering is ignorance. The main symptom of ignorance is attachment and craving. Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path will help end attachment and craving therefore suffering.
The Noble Eightfold Path includes right understanding, right thought, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. The importance of calming the mind helps you seek peace which helps react to awkward situations with love, compassion and generosity.
In the Footsteps of Lord Buddha
In the Footsteps of Lord Buddha is a fresh and perceptive look. It’s a journey across India reminiscing the same way that Buddha walked on His Path of Enlightenment. The World’s most important Buddhist destinations are Lumbini, Rajgir, Bodhgaya, Sarnath, Sravasti, Kushinagar.
Retracing Buddha’s Footsteps involves a trip down the Buddha’s lane both antique and serene. It offers a delightful experience with pilgrimage to Sarnath. Few weeks after the Buddha attained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya, he travelled to Deer Park in Sarnath to preach his first sermon called the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. Retracing Buddha’s footsteps also involves a visit to the first community of Buddhist followers and practitioners in Deer Park of Sarnath.
The Dhammapada reads as follows
- Buddha and his dhamma contains of these steps
- Conquer the angry man by love
- Conquer the ill natured man by goodness
- Conquer the miser with generosity
Buddha also said that it is our own mind which creates our own suffering which we can also use to create happiness.
Buddhist Architecture, Buddhist Structures and Buddhist Monuments
Buddhist architecture began with the construction of various symbols representing Buddha’s life. Buddhism became a state religion under emperor Ashoka with the development of a lot of buddhist monuments ensuing. Many viharas, chaityas, stambhas and stupas. Viharas are monasteries designed for meditation and reflection, stupas were allocated to venerate Buddhist relics and shrines whereas chaityas are prayer halls which were also used as temples later. Initially Buddhism did not allow making of figures and idols but with growing number of buddhistfollowers and devotees the sculptural representations.
Buddha’s birthday is known a Buddha Purnima and according to legend he was born on a full moon day. On the auspicious day of Buddha Purnima the devotees celebrate with flowers, sweets, candles and incense. The Buddha Statues are given a holy bath and people participate in long meditations emulating the posture of Lord Buddha’s Statues on Buddha’s birthday. The followers and many Buddhist monks undertake a lot of charity work including distribution of food, money and other utilities on Buddha Purnima.
Three Jewels of Buddhism
The three most precious jewels given by Buddha which are an indispensable part of Buddhist history are:
Buddham Saranam Gacchami means Complete Surrender without any feelings of resentment and remorse. This is the first step in one’s spiritual journey where a disciple has to keep complete faith and surrender his soul under lotus feet of the Guru. Here the Guru is Buddha (The Awakened One) which presents only after discipline practice ofBuddham Saranam Gacchami.
Dharmam Sharanam Gacchami which means one should surrender to his/her own dharma. The divine one connects with your soul only after this step.
Sangham Saranam Gacchami means one should accompany those who are on the same mission with you. The ones who uplift your spirit, give you positivity and inspiration and keep reminding you about the ultimate goal of life i.e. to meet our supreme power one day with good karmas.
All three jewels are inscribed in various Buddhist scriptures and engravings on Buddhist structures.
Book on Gautam Buddha’s Life
B.R.Ambedkar’s magnum opus, Buddha and his dhamma was barely completed before his death and was published in 1957. The book is all about Ambedkar’s analysis done on Buddhist History and culture. Dhama is all about maintaining purity of life. It is further subdivided in three forms: Purity of Speech, Purity of Body and Purity of Mind.
Buddha and His Four Disciples
Buddha was accepted by four disciples who worshipped him all their life and later came to be known as Buddha and his four disciples. They took a vow to follow his path and became his Savaka (Disciples). Moreover, one cannot even imagine how many monks and nuns were ordained by the Buddha during his lifetime. Buddha and His Four Disciples were:
Shariputra was a top master of wisdom. Maudgalyayana was a top master of supernatural powers. Mahakasyapa was a top master. After the death of Gautama Buddha he was the first master who along with the 500 other disciples started preaching Buddha’s teachings directly.Subhuti and some more were known as PurnaMaitrayani – putra, katyayana, Anuruddha, Upali,Rahula (the only Son of Buddha), Ananda (cousin of Buddha). When Ananda became a buddhistmonk, he took care of Buddha for many years until Buddha died.
To live in peace and contentment is what real celebration of life is all about. Whatever the date is fixed by Masters for Buddha’s Birthday it’s the time to meet and greet. Buddha’s Birthday is also called as Buddha’s Festival. It’s the time to decorate houses with lanterns and lights. The cheerful parades of dancers, musicians and dragons are seen on the streets. Holy Bath is given to the idol of Baby Buddha in Holy waters.
Buddhist Heritage Trails
Travelling the Buddhist Heritage Trails today is all about enjoying the aura of divine experience in different means of transport and food available very easily. Approximately 2500 years back Gautama ate only what was given to him, slept in the open and covered the great distances of North India on Foot. In a Car or Coach, the modern pilgrims hardship is not comparable, but it is possible to feel compassion and admiration when they embark on a tour of Buddhist Heritage Trails.
Buddha and Land of Enlightenment
Bodhgaya is mainly known as The Buddha Land of Enlightenment as this where Buddha attained nirvana. Gautama began his ascetic life by begging for alms in the street. He also went to Rajgriha and tried to satisfy his inner hunger at the lotus feet of two learned saints named Alara and Udraka. For some time he tried to seek knowledge and guidance from several wise teachers but he was unsatisfied. Further he decided to let his body undergo extreme physical pain. He used to starve, keep rigorous fasts and avoid drinking water. For many years he just wandered from here and there in quest of his answers to his doubts. He was living in dense forests away from human beings.
After starving himself for days, he once accepted milk and bowl of Rice pudding from a young girl named Sujata. After having this meal he realized that living under such harsh physical constraints was not helping him achieve his spiritual goals, and following a path of balance was better than living a lifestyle of extreme self denial. Following this he started meditating under a Pipal Tree (now Bodhi Tree). He promised himself that he will not move until he found enlightenment. He meditated for several days and got edification. During his enlightenment he got the core meaning of human life, its suffering and the Bitter fact of life i.e. death.
Discovery of the “Four Noble Truths” which became integral to buddha’s life is as follows: The Truth of suffering (Dukha), The Truth of the cause of suffering (Samudaya), The Truth of the End of Suffering (Nirodha), The Truth of the Path that frees us from suffering (Marga).
Life of Buddha further explained the way of life he undertook and the significance of each path in his life.The Truth of The Path was his eightfold path to end the cause of suffering. He further taught that the Truth can be found only if this eightfold path is followed i.e. Right Understanding, Right Concentration, Right Aspiration, Right Mindfulness, Right Speech, Right Effort, Right Livelihood, and Right Action. He spent rest of his life travelling, teaching a diverse range of people from nobles to criminals.
Buddhism Culture and History
Buddhism History and culture is rich in its foundation as it very easily attracts people towards it because it has easy methods of teachings, no hard and fast or rigid rules are there to follow this religion. It involves very soothing meditation music, interesting art and wonderful sculptures which fascinate people easily and take them closer to the Life of Buddha.
IRCTC Buddhist Train India
IRCTC Buddhist Train in India covers all the places which had a significant impact on Buddha’s Life and Teachings. One can board the train from Safdarjung Railway Station (Delhi) as it heads for Religious and Traditional Gaya the first of the other destinations namely Rajgir, Nalanda, Varanasi, Sarnath, Lumbini, Kushinagar, Sravasti and to end with one of the seven wonders of the world The Taj Mahal.