On This Day: Mr. Buddha Was Born

Real History |

In 563 B.C., none other than the founder of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha, was born. He is believed to have lived in India from 563 B.C. to 483 B.C as the son of the king of the Shakya people. His name was Prince Siddhartha.

The Shakya were a clan in the late Vedic period who dwelled in North India and present-day Nepal. Some scholars believe they were Scythians from northern Iran, which explains the similarity between Scythian and Shakya. They are mentioned in many Buddhist texts, including later ones such as Mahavastu, Buddhaghosa, and Sumangalavilasini.

The Shakya republic was an oligarchy, ruled by an elite council of the warrior and ministerial class. When Buddha was born, a new building was constructed for the Shakya santhagara and inaugurated by him.

There has been some debate regarding the precise year of Buddha's existence, or whether he even existed at all. But the general consensus is that he did in fact live and is the founder of a monastic order during the Mahajanapada era.

Gautama Buddha was born in Lumbini, a location in modern-day Nepal. He was raised in the Shakya capital of Kapilvastu which was either in modern Nepal or India.

Unfortunately there are zero written records about Buddha from his lifetime. It wasn't until around 200 BC when the first recorded reference about Buddha was made. An Edict of Asoka, who reigned from 269 BC to 232 BC commemorated the Emperor's pilgrimage to the Buddha's birthplace in Lumbini.

In early Buddhist texts, Buddha is attributed with possessing omniscience or being an eternal transcendent being. The earliest biographical material from the Pali Nikayas focuses on the Buddha's life as a sramana and his search for enlightenment under different teachers.

Buddha did yoga, it's true. He practiced under a pair of hermit teachers of yogic meditation, before becoming a student of yoga with Udaka Ramaputta.

Gautama's awakening came after realizing that meditative dhyana was the proper path for him to take. However, extreme asceticism didn't work. He then discovered what Buddhists call the Middle Way. This is a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification, or the Noble Eightfold Path.

Buddhism is all about finding Nirvana. Buddhas want to extinguish the "fires" of desire, hatred, and ignorance that keep a cycle of suffering ongoing. Gautama spent the final 45 years of his life traveling the region and preaching these ideals, which are still prevalent in this area today.