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Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha

A statue of the Buddha from Sarnath, 4th century CE.
Born c. 563 BCE or 623 BCE
Lumbini, today in Nepal
Died c. 483 BCE or 543 BCE (aged 80)
Kushinagar, today in India
Ethnicity Shakya
Known for Founder of Buddhism
Predecessor Kassapa Buddha
Successor Maitreya Buddha


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Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: शिद्धत्थ ङोतम Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the north eastern region of South Asia who founded Buddhism.[1] In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha (Sammāsambuddha) of our age, "Buddha" meaning "awakened one" or "the enlightened one." [note 1] The time of his birth and death are uncertain: most early 20th-century historians dated his lifetime as c. 563 BCE to 483 BCE; more recently, however, at a specialist symposium on this question,[2] the majority of those scholars who presented definite opinions gave dates within 20 years either side of 400 BCE for the Buddha's death, with others supporting earlier or later dates.[3]

Gautama, also known as Śākyamuni or Shakyamuni ("sage of the Shakyas"), is the key figure in Buddhism, and accounts of his life, discourses, and monastic rules are believed by Buddhists to have been summarized after his death and memorized by his followers. Various collections of teachings attributed to Gautama were passed down by oral tradition, and first committed to writing about 400 years later.

Contents

Life

The primary sources of information regarding Siddhārtha Gautama's life are the Buddhist texts. According to these, the Buddha and his monks spent four months each year discussing and rehearsing his teachings, and after his death his monks set about preserving them. A council was held shortly after his death, and another was held a century later. At these councils the monks attempted to establish and authenticate the extant accounts of the life and teachings of the Buddha following systematic rules. They divided the teachings into distinct but overlapping bodies of material, and assigned specific monks to preserve each one.[4] In some cases, essential aspects of teachings attributed to the Buddha were incorporated into stories and chants in an effort to preserve them accurately.[5]

From then on, the teachings were transmitted orally. From internal evidence it seems clear that the oldest texts crystallized into their current form by the time of the second council or shortly after it. The scriptures were not written down until three or four hundred years after the Buddha's death. By this point, the monks had added or altered some material themselves, in particular magnifying the figure of the Buddha.[4]

The ancient Indians were generally not concerned with chronologies, being more focused on philosophy. The Buddhist texts reflect this tendency, providing a clearer picture of what Shakyamuni may have taught than of the dates of the events in his life. These texts contain descriptions of the culture and daily life of ancient India which can be corroborated from the Jain scriptures, and make the Buddha's time the earliest period in Indian history for which significant accounts exist.[6] According to Michael Carrithers, there are good reasons to doubt the traditional account, though, according to Carrithers, the outline of "birth, maturity, renunciation, search, awakening and liberation, teaching, death" must be true.[7]

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Conception and birth

Maya Devi Temple in Lumbini, Nepal.
Birth of Buddha at Lumbini. Picture of a painting in a Laotian Temple.
Prince Siddhartha Gautama, Musée Guimet, Paris

Siddhartha was born in Lumbini[8] and raised in the small kingdom or principality of Kapilvastu, both of which are in modern day Nepal[9]. At the time of the Buddha's birth, the area was at or beyond the boundary of Vedic civilization, the dominant culture of northern India at the time; it is even possible that his mother tongue was not an Indo-Aryan language.[10] At the time, a multitude of small city-states existed in Ancient India, called Janapadas. Republics and chiefdoms with diffused political power and limited social stratification, were not uncommon amongst them, and were referred to as gana-sanghas.[11] The Buddha's community does not seem to have had a caste system. It was not a monarchy, and seems to have been structured either as an oligarchy, or as a form of republic.[12] The more egalitarian gana-sangha form of government, as a political alternative to the strongly hierarchical kingdoms, may have influenced the development of the Shramana type Jain and Buddhist sanghas, where monarchies tended toward Vedic Brahmanism.[13]

According to the traditional biography - to which modern scholars give little credence, aside from the broad outline[14] - the Buddha's father was King Suddhodana, the leader of Shakya clan, whose capital was Kapilavastu, and who were later annexed by the growing Kingdom of Kosala during the Buddha's lifetime; Gautama was the family name. His mother, Queen Maha Maya (Māyādevī) 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,[15] and ten months later Siddhartha was born. As was the Shakya tradition, when his mother Queen Maya became pregnant, she left Kapilvastu for her father's kingdom to give birth. However, she gave birth on the way, at Lumbini, in a garden beneath a sal tree.

The day of the Buddha's birth is widely celebrated in Theravada countries as Vesak.[16] Various sources hold that the Buddha's mother died at his birth, a few days or seven days later. The infant was given the name Siddhartha (Pāli: Siddhatta), meaning "he who achieves his aim". During the birth celebrations, the hermit seer Asita journeyed from his mountain abode and announced that the child would either become a great king (chakravartin) or a great holy man.[17] This occurred after Siddhartha placed his feet in Asita's hair and Asita examined the birthmarks. Suddhodana held a naming ceremony on the fifth day, and invited eight brahmin scholars to read the future. All gave a dual prediction that the baby would either become a great king or a great holy man.[17] Kaundinya (Pali: Kondanna), the youngest, and later to be the first arahant other than the Buddha, was the only one who unequivocally predicted that Siddhartha would become a Buddha.[18]

While later tradition and legend characterized Śuddhodana as a hereditary monarch, the descendant of the Solar Dynasty of Ikṣvāku (Pāli: Okkāka), many scholars believe that Śuddhodana was the elected chief of a tribal confederacy.

Early life and marriage

Siddhartha, said to have been destined to a luxurious life as a prince, had three palaces (for seasonal occupation) especially built for him. His father, King Śuddhodana, 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.[19]

As the boy reached the age of 16, his father arranged his marriage to Yaśodharā (Pāli: Yasodharā), a cousin of the same age. According to the traditional account, in time, she gave birth to a son, Rahula. Siddhartha spent 29 years as a Prince in Kapilavastu. 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.[19]

Departure and Ascetic Life

The Buddha travelled the plain of the Ganges river, where his philosophy attracted followers.
The Great Departure. Gandhara, 2nd century.
Prince Siddharta shaves his hair and become an ascetic. Borobudur, 8th century.

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"[20] to prevent guards from knowing of the Bodhisatta's departure. This event is traditionally called "The Great Departure". Siddhartha initially went to Rajagaha and began his ascetic life by begging for alms in the street. Having been recognised by the men of King Bimbisara, Bimbisara offered him the throne after hearing of Siddhartha's quest. Siddhartha rejected the offer, but promised to visit his kingdom of Magadha first, upon attaining enlightenment.

Siddhartha left Rajagaha and practised under two hermit teachers. After mastering the teachings of Alara Kalama (Skr. Ārāḍa Kālāma), Siddhartha was asked by Kalama to succeed him, but moved on after being unsatisfied with his practices. He then became a student of Udaka Ramaputta (Skr. Udraka Rāmaputra), but although he achieved high levels of meditative consciousness and was asked to succeed Ramaputta, he was still not satisfied with his path, and moved on.[21]

Gandhara Buddha. 1st–2nd century CE, Tokyo National Museum.

Siddhartha and a group of five companions led by Kaundinya then set out to take their austerities even further. They tried to find enlightenment through near total deprivation of worldly goods, including food, practising self-mortification. After nearly starving himself to death by restricting his food intake to around a leaf or nut per day, he collapsed in a river while bathing and almost drowned. Siddhartha began to reconsider his path. Then, he remembered a moment in childhood in which he had been watching his father start the season's plowing, and he had fallen into a naturally concentrated and focused state that was blissful and refreshing, the jhāna.

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, India, 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."

At this point, he is believed to have realized complete awakening and insight into the nature and cause of human suffering which was ignorance, along with steps necessary to eliminate it. This was then categorized into 'Four Noble Truths'; the state of supreme liberation—possible for any being—was called Nirvana. He then allegedly came to possess the Ten Characteristics, which are said to belong to every Buddha.

According to one of the stories in the Āyācana Sutta (Samyutta Nikaya VI.1), a scripture found in the Pāli and other canons, immediately after his Enlightenment, the Buddha was wondering whether or not he should teach the Dharma to human beings. He was concerned that, as human beings were overpowered by greed, hatred and delusion, they would not be able to see the true dharma, which was subtle, deep and hard to understand. However, Brahmā Sahampati, interceded and asked that he teach the dharma to the world, as "there will be those who will understand the Dharma". With his great compassion to all beings in the universe, the Buddha agreed to become a teacher.

Formation of the sangha

Painting of the first sermon depicted at Wat Chedi Liem in Thailand.

After becoming enlightened, two merchants whom the Buddha met, named Tapussa and Bhallika became the first lay disciples. They are given some hairs from the Buddha's head, which are believed to now be enshrined in the Shwe Dagon Temple in Rangoon, Burma. The Buddha intended to visit Asita, and his former teachers, Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta to explain his findings, but they had already died.

The Buddha thus journeyed to Deer Park near Vārāṇasī (Benares) in northern India, he set in motion the Wheel of Dharma by delivering his first sermon to the group of five companions with whom he had previously sought enlightenment. They, together with the Buddha, formed the first saṅgha, the company of Buddhist monks, and hence, the first formation of Triple Gem (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha) was completed, with Kaundinya becoming the first stream-enterer. All five soon become arahants, and with the conversion of Yasa and fifty four of his friends, the number of arahants swelled to 60 within the first two months. The conversion of the three Kassapa brothers and their 200, 300 and 500 disciples swelled the sangha over 1000, and they were dispatched to explain the dharma to the populace.

It is unknown what the Buddha's mother tongue was, and no conclusive documentation has been made at this point. It is likely that he preached and his teachings were originally preserved in a variety of closely related Middle Indo-Aryan dialects, of which Pali may be a standardization.

Travels and teaching

Buddha with his protector Vajrapani, Gandhara, 2nd century CE, Ostasiatische Kunst Museum

For the remaining 45 years of his life, the Buddha is said to have traveled in the Gangetic Plain, in what is now Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and southern Nepal, teaching his doctrine and discipline to an extremely diverse range of people— from nobles to outcaste street sweepers, mass murderers such as Angulimala and cannibals such as Alavaka. This extended to many adherents of rival philosophies and religions. The Buddha founded the community of Buddhist monks and nuns (the Sangha) to continue the dispensation after his Parinirvāna (Pāli: Parinibbāna) or "complete Nirvāna", and made thousands of converts. His religion was open to all races and classes and had no caste structure. He was also subject to attack from opposition religious groups, including attempted murders and framings.

The sangha travelled from place to place in India, expounding the dharma. This occurred throughout the year, except during the four months of the vassana rainy season. Due to the heavy amount of flooding, travelling was difficult, and ascetics of all religions in that time did not travel, since it was more difficult to do so without stepping on submerged animal life, unwittingly killing them. During this period, the sangha would retreat to a monastery, public park or a forest and people would come to them.

The first vassana was spent at Varanasi when the sangha was first formed. After this, he travelled to Rajagaha, the capital of Magadha to visit King Bimbisara, in accordance with his promise after enlightenment. It was during this visit that Sariputta and Mahamoggallana were converted by Assaji, one of the first five disciples; they were to become the Buddha's two foremost disciples. The Buddha then spent the next three seasons at Veluvana Bamboo Grove monastery in Rajagaha, the capital of Magadha. The monastery, which was of a moderate distance from the city centre was donated by Bimbisara.

Upon hearing of the enlightenment, Suddhodana dispatched royal delegations to ask the Buddha to return to Kapilavastu. Nine delegations were sent in all, but the delegates joined the sangha and became arahants. Neglecting worldly matters, they did not convey their message. The tenth delegation, led by Kaludayi, a childhood friend, resulted in the message being successfully conveyed as well as becoming an arahant. Since it was not the vassana, the Buddha agreed, and two years after his enlightenment, took a two month journey to Kapilavastu by foot, preaching the dharma along the way. Upon his return, the royal palace had prepared the midday meal, but since no specific invitation had come, the sangha went for an alms round in Kapilavastu. Hearing this, Suddhodana hastened to approach the Buddha, stating "Ours is the warrior lineage of Mahamassata, and not a single warrior has gone seeking alms", to which the Buddha replied

That is not the custom of your royal lineage. But it is the custom of my Buddha lineage. Several thousands of Buddhas have gone by seeking alms

Suddhodana invited the sangha back to the royal palace for the meal, followed by a dharma talk, after which he became a sotapanna. During the visit, many members of the royal family joined the sangha. His cousins Ananda and Anuruddha were to become two of his five chief disciples. His son Rahula also joined the sangha at the age of seven, and was one of the ten chief disciples. His half-brother Nanda also joined the sangha and became an arahant. Another cousin Devadatta also became a monk although he later became an enemy and tried to kill the Buddha on multiple occasions.

Of his disciples, Sariputta, Mahamoggallana, Mahakasyapa, Ananda and Anuruddha comprised the five chief disciples. His ten foremost disciples were completed by the quintet of Upali, Subhoti, Rahula, Mahakaccana and Punna.

In the fifth vassana, the Buddha was staying at Mahavana near Vesali. Hearing of the impending death of Suddhodana, the Buddha went to his father and preached the dharma, and Suddhodana became an arahant prior to death. The death and cremation led to the creation of the order of nuns. Buddhist texts record that he was reluctant to ordain women as nuns. His foster mother Maha Pajapati approached him asking to join the sangha, but the Buddha refused, and began the journey from Kapilavastu back to Rajagaha. Maha Pajapati was so intent on renouncing the world that she led a group of royal Sakyan and Koliyan ladies, following the sangha to Rajagaha. The Buddha eventually accepted them five years after the formation of the Sangha on the grounds that their capacity for enlightenment was equal to that of men, but he gave them certain additional rules (Vinaya) to follow. This occurred after Ananda interceded on their behalf. Yasodhara also became a nun, with both becoming arahants.

Devadatta tries to attack the Buddha. Picture of a wallpainting in a Laotian monastery.

During his ministry, Devadatta (who was not an arahant) frequently tried to undermine the Buddha. At one point Devadatta asked the Buddha to stand aside to let him lead the sangha. The Buddha declined, and stated that Devadatta's actions did not reflect on the Triple Gem, but on him alone. Devadatta conspired with Prince Ajatasattu, son of Bimbisara, so that they would kill and usurp the Buddha and Bimbisara respectively. Devadatta attempted three times to kill the Buddha. The first attempt involved the hiring of a group of archers, whom upon meeting the Buddha became disciples. A second attempt followed when Devadatta attempted to roll a large boulder down a hill. It hit another rock and splintered, only grazing the Buddha in the foot. A final attempt by plying an elephant with alcohol and setting it loose again failed. Failing this, Devadatta attempted to cause a schism in the sangha, by proposing extra restrictions on the vinaya. When the Buddha declined, Devadatta started a breakaway order, criticising the Buddha's laxity. At first, he managed to convert some of the bhikkhus, but Sariputta and Mahamoggallana expounded the dharma to them and succeeded in winning them back.

When the Buddha reached the age of 55, he made Ananda his chief attendant.

Death / Mahaparinirvana

An artist`s portrayal of Buddha's entry into Parinirvana.

According to the Mahaparinibbana Sutta of the Pali canon, at the age of 80, the Buddha announced that he would soon reach Parinirvana or the final deathless state abandoning the earthly body. After this, the Buddha ate his last meal, which he had received as an offering from a blacksmith named Cunda. Falling violently ill, Buddha instructed his attendant Ānanda 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 meal for a Buddha.[22] Mettanando and von Hinüber argue that the Buddha died of mesenteric infarction, a symptom of old age, rather than food poisoning.[23] The precise contents of the Buddha's final meal are not clear, due to variant scriptural traditions and ambiguity over the translation of certain significant terms; the Theravada tradition generally believes that the Buddha was offered some kind of pork, while the Mahayana tradition believes that the Buddha consumed some sort of truffle or other mushroom.

The sharing of the relics of the Buddha, Zenyōmitsu-Temple Museum, Tokyo
Buddha relics from Kanishka's stupa in Peshawar, Pakistan, now in Mandalay, Burma. Teresa Merrigan, 2005

The Mahayana Vimalakirti Sutra claims, in Chapter 3, that the Buddha doesn't really become ill or old but purposely presents such an appearance only to teach those born into samsara about the impermanence and pain of defiled worlds and to encourage them to strive for Nirvana.

"Reverend Ánanda, the Tathágatas have the body of the Dharma—not a body that is sustained by material food. The Tathágatas have a transcendental body that has transcended all mundane qualities. There is no injury to the body of a Tathágata, as it is rid of all defilements. The body of a Tathágata is uncompounded and free of all formative activity. Reverend Ánanda, to believe there can be illness in such a body is irrational and unseemly!' Nevertheless, since the Buddha has appeared during the time of the five corruptions, he disciplines living beings by acting lowly and humble."[14]

Ananda protested Buddha's decision to enter Parinirvana in the abandoned jungles of Kuśināra (present-day Kushinagar, India) of the Malla kingdom. Buddha, however, reminded Ananda how Kushinara was a land once ruled by a righteous wheel-turning king that resounded with joy:

44. Kusavati, Ananda, resounded unceasingly day and night with ten sounds—the trumpeting of elephants, the neighing of horses, the rattling of chariots, the beating of drums and tabours, music and song, cheers, the clapping of hands, and cries of "Eat, drink, and be merry!"

Buddha then asked all the attendant Bhikshus to clarify any doubts or questions they had. They had none. He then finally entered Parinirvana. The Buddha's final words were, "All composite things pass away. Strive for your own liberation with diligence." The Buddha's body was cremated and the relics were placed in monuments or stupas, some of which are believed to have survived until the present. For example, The Temple of the Tooth or "Dalada Maligawa" in Sri Lanka is the place where the relic of the right tooth of Buddha is kept at present.

According to the Pāli historical chronicles of Sri Lanka, the Dīpavaṃsa and Mahāvaṃsa, the coronation of Aśoka (Pāli: Asoka) is 218 years after the death of Buddha. According to one Mahayana record in Chinese (十八部論 and 部執異論), the coronation of Aśoka is 116 years after the death of Buddha. Therefore, the time of Buddha's passing is either 486 BCE according to Theravāda record or 383 BCE according to Mahayana record. However, the actual date traditionally accepted as the date of the Buddha's death in Theravāda countries is 544 or 543 BCE, because the reign of Aśoka was traditionally reckoned to be about 60 years earlier than current estimates.

At his death, the Buddha told his disciples to follow no leader, but to follow his teachings (dharma). However, at the First Buddhist Council, Mahakasyapa was held by the sangha as their leader, with the two chief disciples Mahamoggallana and Sariputta having died before the Buddha.

Physical characteristics

For the Fat or Laughing Buddha, see Budai.
The 8m tall statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha in the Tawang Monastery.
Buddha Daibutsu in Kamakura, Japan.

Buddha is perhaps one of the few sages for whom we have mention of his rather impressive physical characteristics. A kshatriya by birth, he had military training in his upbringing, and by Shakyan tradition was required to pass tests to demonstrate his worthiness as a warrior in order to marry. He had a strong enough body to be noticed by one of the kings and was asked to join his army as a general. He is also believed by Buddhists to have "the 32 Signs of the Great Man".

The Brahmin Sonadanda described him as "handsome, good-looking, and pleasing to the eye, with a most beautiful complexion. He has a godlike form and countenance, he is by no means unattractive."(D,I:115).

"It is wonderful, truly marvellous, how serene is the good Gotama's appearance, how clear and radiant his complexion, just as the golden jujube in autumn is clear and radiant, just as a palm-tree fruit just loosened from the stalk is clear and radiant, just as an adornment of red gold wrought in a crucible by a skilled goldsmith, deftly beaten and laid on a yellow-cloth shines, blazes and glitters, even so, the good Gotama's senses are calmed, his complexion is clear and radiant." (A,I:181)

A disciple named Vakkali, who later became an Arahant, was so obsessed by Buddha's physical presence that Buddha had to tell him to stop and reminded Vakkali to know Buddha through the Dhamma and not physical appearances.

Although the Buddha was not represented in human form until around the 1st century CE (see Buddhist art), the physical characteristics of fully-enlightened Buddhas are described by the Buddha in the Digha Nikaya's Lakkhaṇa Sutta (D,I:142).[24] In addition, the Buddha's physical appearance is described by Yasodhara to their son Rahula upon the Buddha's first post-Enlightenment return to his former princely palace in the non-canonical Pali devotional hymn, Narasīha Gāthā ("The Lion of Men").[25]

Teachings

Seated Buddha, Gandhara, 2nd century CE.

Some scholars believe that some portions of the Pali Canon and the Agamas could contain the actual substance of the historical teachings (and possibly even the words) of the Buddha.[26][27] This is not the case for the later Mahayana sutras.[28] The scriptural works of Early Buddhism precede the Mahayana works chronologically, and are treated by many Western scholars as the main credible source for information regarding the actual historical teachings of Gautama Buddha.

Some of the fundamentals of the teachings of Gautama Buddha are:

  • The Four Noble Truths: that suffering is an inherent part of existence; that the origin of suffering is ignorance and the main symptoms of that ignorance are attachment and craving; that attachment and craving can be ceased; and that following the Noble Eightfold Path will lead to the cessation of attachment and craving and therefore suffering.
  • The Noble Eightfold Path: right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
  • Dependent origination: that any phenomenon 'exists' only because of the ‘existence’ of other phenomena in a complex web of cause and effect covering time past, present and future. Because all things are thus conditioned and transient (anicca), they have no real independent identity (anatta).
  • Rejection of the infallibility of accepted scripture: Teachings should not be accepted unless they are borne out by our experience and are praised by the wise. See the Kalama Sutta for details.
  • Anicca (Sanskrit: anitya): That all things are impermanent.
  • Dukkha (Sanskrit: duḥkha): That all beings suffer from all situations due to unclear mind.
  • Anatta (Sanskrit: anātman): That the perception of a constant "self" is an illusion.

However, in some Mahayana schools, these points have come to be regarded as more or less subsidiary. There is some disagreement amongst various schools of Buddhism over more esoteric aspects of Buddha's teachings, and also over some of the disciplinary rules for monks.

According to tradition, the Buddha emphasized ethics and correct understanding. He questioned the average person's notions of divinity and salvation. He stated that there is no intermediary between mankind and the divine; distant gods are subjected to karma themselves in decaying heavens; and the Buddha is solely a guide and teacher for the sentient beings who must tread the path of Nirvāṇa (Pāli: Nibbāna) themselves to attain the spiritual awakening called bodhi and see truth and reality as it is. The Buddhist system of insight and meditation practice is not believed to have been revealed divinely, but by the understanding of the true nature of the mind, which must be discovered by personally treading a spiritual path guided by the Buddha's teachings.

See also

References

Notes
  1. ^ Turner, Sir Ralph Lilley (1962–1985). "buddha 9276". A comparative dictionary of the Indo-Aryan languages. London: Oxford University Press. Digital Dictionaries of South Asia, University of Chicago. p. 525. http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/contextualize.pl?p.2.soas.1976481. Retrieved 22 Feb 2010. "Hypothetical root budh ‘ perceive ’ 1. Pali buddha – ‘ understood, enlightened ’, masculine ‘ the Buddha ’; Aśokan, that is, the language of the Inscriptions of Aśoka Budhe nominative singular; Prakrit buddha – ‘ known, awakened ’; Waigalī būdāī ‘ truth ’; Bashkarīk budh ‘ he heard ’; Tōrwālī būdo preterite of – ‘ to see, know ’ from bṓdhati; Phalūṛa búddo preterite of buǰǰ – ‘ to understand ’ from búdhyatē; Shina Gilgitī dialect budo ‘ awake ’, Gurēsī dialect budyōnṷ intransitive ‘ to wake ’; Kashmiri bọ̆du ‘ quick of understanding (especially of a child ’); Sindhī ḇudho past participle (passive) of ḇujhaṇu ‘ to understand ’ from búdhyatē, West Pahāṛī buddhā preterite of bujṇā ‘ to know ’; Sinhalese buj (j written for d), budu, bud – , but – ‘ the Buddha ’." 
References
  1. ^ The Buddha
  2. ^ L. S. Cousins (1996), "The dating of the historical Buddha: a review article", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (3)6(1): 57–63.
  3. ^ "As is now almost universally accepted by informed Indological scholarship, a re-examination of early Buddhist historical material, ..., necessitates a redating of the Buddha's death to between 411 and 400 BCE." Paul Dundas, The Jains, 2nd edition, (Routledge, 2001), p. 24.
  4. ^ a b Michael Carrithers, The Buddha, 1983, pages 13, 14. Found in Founders of Faith, Oxford University Press, 1986.
  5. ^ Sue Hamilton, Identity and Experience. LUZAC Oriental, 1996, pages 110-111.
  6. ^ Carrithers, page 15.
  7. ^ Carrithers, page 10.
  8. ^ Buddhanet.net
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ Richard Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988, page 49.
  11. ^ Romila Thapar, The Penguin History of Early India: From Origins to AD 1300. Penguin Books, 2002, page 137.
  12. ^ Richard Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988, pages 49-50.
  13. ^ Romila Thapar, The Penguin History of Early India: From Origins to AD 1300. Penguin Books, 2002, page 146.
  14. ^ Lopez (1995). Buddhism in Practice. Princeton University Press. pp. 16. 
  15. ^ Sacred-texts.com
  16. ^ Turpie, D. 2001. Wesak And The Re-Creation of Buddhist Tradition. Master's Thesis. Montreal, Quebec: McGill University. (p. 3). Available from: Mcgill.ca, Accessed 17 November 2006.
  17. ^ a b Narada (1992). A Manual of Buddhism. Buddha Educational Foundation. p. 9–12. ISBN 967-9920-58-5. 
  18. ^ Narada (1992), p11-12
  19. ^ a b Narada (1992), p14
  20. ^ Narada (1992), pp15-16
  21. ^ Narada (1992), pp19-20
  22. ^ Maha-parinibbana Sutta (DN 16), verse 56
  23. ^ Mettanando Bhikkhu and Oskar von Hinueber, "The Cause of the Buddha's Death"; Vol. XXVI of the Journal of the Pali Text Society, 2000. See also this article by Mettanando saying the same thing: Buddhanet.net.
  24. ^ Maurice Walshe, The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Dīgha Nikāya, 1995, Boston: Wisdom Publications, "[DN] 30: Lakkhaṇa Sutta: The Marks of a Great Man," pp. 441-60.
  25. ^ Ven. Elgiriye Indaratana Maha Thera, Vandana: The Album of Pali Devotional Chanting and Hymns, 2002, pp. 49-52, retrieved 2007-11-08 from "BuddhaNet" at Buddhanet.net
  26. ^ It is therefore possible that much of what is found in the Suttapitaka is earlier than c.250 B.C., perhaps even more than 100 years older than this. If some of the material is so old, it might be possible to establish what texts go back to the very beginning of Buddhism, texts which perhaps include the substance of the Buddha’s teaching, and in some cases, maybe even his words. How old is the Suttapitaka? Alexander Wynne, St John’s College, 2003, p.22 (this article is available on the website of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies: [www.ocbs.org/research/Wynne.pdf]
  27. ^ It would be hypocritical to assert that nothing can be said about the doctrine of earliest Buddhism ... the basic ideas of Buddhism found in the canonical writings could very well have been proclaimed by him [the Buddha], transmitted and developed by his disciples and, finally, codified in fixed formulas. J.W. De Jong, 1993: The Beginnings of Buddhism, in The Eastern Buddhist, vol. 26, no. 2, p. 25
  28. ^ The Mahayana movement claims to have been founded by the Buddha himself. The consensus of the evidence, however, is that it originated in South India in the 1st century CE–Indian Buddhism, AK Warder, 3rd edition, 1999, p. 335.

Further reading

  • Armstrong, Karen. Buddha. (New York: Penguin Books, 2001).
  • Bechert, Heinz (ed.) (1996) When Did the Buddha Live? The Controversy on the Dating of the Historical Buddha. Delhi: Sri Satguru.
  • Sathe, Shriram: Dates of the Buddha. Bharatiya Itihasa Sankalana Samiti, Hyderabad 1987.

External links



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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Gautama Buddha article)

From Wikiquote

Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love. This is the eternal rule.

Gautama Buddha (c. 563 - c. 483 BC) was a philosopher, teacher, and religious leader. "Buddha", meaning "awakened one" or "enlightened one" is a title, not a name; the Shakyamuni Buddha, whose original name was Siddhartha Gautama, was the founder of Buddhism.

See also Dhammapada

Contents

Sourced

Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.
Live and let live.
  • We are what we think.
    All that we are arises with our thoughts.
    With our thoughts we make the world.
    • Dhammapada, as translated by T. Byrom (1993), Shambhala Publications.
  • No one saves us but ourselves, no one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path but Buddhas clearly show the way.
  • "But truly, Ananda, it is nothing strange that human beings should die."
    • Digha Nikaya (DN) 16
  • "This is deathless, the liberation of the mind through lack of clinging."
    • Majjhima Nikaya (MN) 106
  • "To cease from evil, to do good, and to purify the mind yourself, this is the teaching of all the Buddhas."
    • Dhammapada verse 183
  • "Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation."
    • MN 74 Dighanaka Sutta (this saying is also in many other suttas as well)
  • Behold now, Bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to decay. Strive with diligence!
    • DN 16 Mahaparinibbana Sutta 6:8
  • Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.
    • As quoted in the Kalama Sutra, as translated in The American Buddhist Directory (1985) by Kevin O'Neill, p. 7

Exertion

Full text online, as translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
  • Sensual passions are your first enemy.
Your second is called Discontent.
Your third is Hunger & Thirst.
Your fourth is called Craving.
Fifth is Sloth & Drowsiness.
Sixth is called Terror.
Your seventh is Uncertainty.
Hypocrisy & Stubbornness, your eighth.
Gains, Offerings, Fame, & Status wrongly gained,
and whoever would praise self
& disparage others.
That, Namuci, is your enemy,
the Dark One's commando force.
A coward can't defeat it,
but one having defeated it
gains bliss.
  • I spit on my life.
    Death in battle would be better for me
    than that I, defeated, survive.
    • This statement is made in reference to his battle against the personification of temptation to evil, Mara.
  • That army of yours,
that the world with its devas can't overcome,
I will smash with discernment
  • I will go about, from kingdom to kingdom,
training many disciples.
They — heedful, resolute
doing my teachings —
despite your wishes, will go
where, having gone,
there's no grief.
  • Sn 3.2, Buddha's Purpose

After Enlightenment

  • Open are the doors to the Deathless
to those with ears.
Let them show their conviction.(SN 6.1 Ayacana Sutta)
  • In a world become blind,
I beat the drum of the Deathless.'(MN 26 Ariyapariyesana Sutta)

Anguttara Nikaya

Friends
Nothing is as intractable as an untamed heart.
The untamed heart is intractable.
Nothing is as tractable as a tamed heart.
The tamed heart is tractable.
Nothing tends toward loss as does an untamed heart.
The untamed heart tends towards loss.
Nothing tends toward growth as does a tamed heart.
The tamed heart tends towards growth.
Nothing brings suffering as does
the untamed, uncontrolled unattended and unrestrained heart.
That heart brings suffering.
Nothing brings joy as does a
tamed, controlled, attended and restrained heart.
This heart brings joy.

Samyutta Nikaya

Online Translations

Soma and Mara An adapation of a translation by C.A.F. Rhys-Davids

Once Soma, having returned from her alms round
and having eaten her meal, entered the woods to meditate.
Deep in the woods, she sat down under a tree.
Everything changes, nothing remains without change....
The tempter Mara, desirous and capable of arousing fear, wavering and dread,
and wishing her to interrupt her focused meditation, came to her and said,
Your intent is difficult, even for the sages;
Completion cannot be reached by a woman regardless the wisdom reaped."
Then Soma thought, "Who is this speaking, human or nonhuman?
Surely it is evil Mara desiring to interrupt my focused meditation."
Knowing that it was Mara, she said,
"What does gender matter with regard to a well-composed mind,
which experiences insight in the light of the dharma?"
The evil Mara thought, "Soma knows me"
and sorrowful for the evil, instantly vanished into darkness.
In protecting oneself, others are protected; In protecting others, oneself is protected.

Bamboo Acrobats An adaptation of a translation by John Ireland.

The Exalted One was dwelling in the Sumbha country,
in a location of the Sumbhas called Sedaka
There He addressed the monks:
"Once upon a time, a bamboo-acrobat set up his pole
and called to his pupil, Medakathalika, saying,
'Come my lad Medakathalika,
climb the pole and stand on my shoulders!'
'All right master,'
replied the pupil to the bamboo-acrobat.
The student then climbed the pole
and stood on the master's shoulders.
Then the bamboo-acrobat said to his pupil:
'Now Medakathalika, protect me well and I shall protect you.
Thus watched and warded by each other,
we will show our tricks, get a good fee and
come down safe from the bamboo pole.'
Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.
At these words Medakathalika the pupil
said to the bamboo-acrobat,
'No, no! That won't do master!
Look after yourself and I'll look after myself.
Thus watched and warded each by himself,
we'll show our tricks and get a good fee and
come down safe from the bamboo-pole.'"
"In the synthesis is the right way,"
said the Exalted One,
"Just as Medakathalika the pupil said to his master,
'I shall protect myself,'
by this the Foundation of Mindfulness is practiced.
'I shall protect others,'
by this the Foundation of Mindfulness is practiced.
In protecting oneself, others are protected;
In protecting others, oneself is protected."
Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.
And how does one in protecting oneself, protect others?
By frequent practice, development and
making much of the Foundation of Mindfulness.
Thus in protecting oneself, others are protected.
And how does one, in protecting others, protect oneself?
By forbearance and nonviolence,
By loving kindness and compassion.
Thus in protecting others, one protects oneself.
With the intention, 'I shall protect myself,'
the Foundation of Mindfulness is practiced.
With the intention, 'I shall protect others,'
the Foundation of Mindfulness is practiced.
In protecting oneself, others are protected;
In protecting others, oneself is protected."
  • And this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of dukkha: the craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming.
    • 56.11 Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta: Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

The Gospel of Buddha (1894)

The Gospel of Buddha is a compilation from ancient records by Paul Carus
Neither fire, nor moisture, nor wind can destroy the blessing of good deeds, and blessings enlighten the whole world.

Ch. 58 The Buddha Replies to the Deva

On a certain day when the Blessed One
dwelt at Jetavana, the garden of Anathapindika,
a celestial deva came to him in the shape of a Brahman
enlightened and wearing clothing as white as snow.

The deva asked,

What is the sharpest sword?
What is the deadliest poison?
What is the fiercest fire?
What is the darkest night?"

The Blessed One replied,

The sharpest sword is a word spoken in wrath;
the deadliest poison is covetousness;
the fiercest fire is hatred;
the darkest night is ignorance.

The deva said,

What is the greatest gain?
What is the greatest loss?
Which armour is invulnerable?
What is the best weapon?

The Blessed One replied,

The greatest gain is to give to others;
the greatest loss is to greedily receive without gratitude;
an invulnerable armor is patience;
the best weapon is wisdom.

The deva said,

Who is the most dangerous thief?
What is the most precious treasure?
Who can capture the heavens and the earth?
Where is the securest treasure-trove?
A saviour has a greater right over the saved one than killer.

The Blessed One replied,

The most dangerous thief is unwholesome thought;
the most precious treasure is virtue;
the heavens and the earth may be captured by the mind's eye;
surpassing rebirth locates the securest treasure-trove.

The deva asked,

What is attraction?
What is repulsion?
What is the most horrible pain?
What is the greatest enjoyment?
The mind is everything. What you think you become.

The Buddha replied,

Attraction is wholeness;
repulsion is unwholesomeness;
the most tormenting pain is bad conscience;
the height of bliss is redeemed awakening.

The deva asked,

What causes ruin in the world?
What breaks off friendships?
What is the most violent fever?
Who is the best physician?"

The Blessed One replied,

Ruin in the world is caused by ignorance;
friendships are broken off by envy and selfishness;
the most violent fever is hatred;
the best physician is the Buddha;

The deva continued,

Now I have only one doubt to resolve and absolve:
What is it fire cannot burn,
nor moisture corrode,
nor wind crush down,
but is able to enlighten the whole world.
To conquer oneself is a greater task than conquering others.

The Buddha replied,

Blessing!
Neither fire, nor moisture, nor wind
can destroy the blessing of good deeds,
and blessings enlighten the whole world.

Hearing these answers,

the deva was overflowing with joy.
Then clasping hands, bowed down in respect and
disappeared suddenly from the presence of the Buddha.
  • True charity occurs only when there are no notions of giving, giver, or gift.
    • David Ross, 1,001 Pearls of Wisdom, 2006, p. 26
  • We forgive principally for our own sake, so that we may cease to bear the burden of rancour.
    • David Ross, 1,001 Pearls of Wisdom, 2006, p. 30
  • Rather than continuing to seek the truth, simply let go of your views.
    • David Ross, 1,001 Pearls of Wisdom, 2006, p. 39

Disputed

These quotes are unsourced and their authenticity as sayings of the Gautama Buddha has been questioned.
Life is no more than a dewdrop balancing on the end of a blade of grass.
  • Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.
  • Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Just as the candle won't be shortend, one's happiness never decreases by being shared.
  • The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.
  • Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.
  • If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.
  • Let us all be thankful for this day, for we have learned a great deal; if we have not learned a great deal, then at least we learned slightly; if we did not learn slightly, then at least we did not become sick; if we did become sick, then at least we did not die. So, let us all be thankful.
  • On life's journey faith is nourishment, virtuous deeds are a shelter, wisdom is the light by day and right mindfulness is the protection by night. If a man lives a pure life, nothing can destroy him.
  • Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.
  • Desire is the cause for all your sickness and misery.
  • It is your mind that creates this world.
  • When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.

Quotes about Buddha

To understand everything is to forgive everything.
  • The age in which true history appeared in India was one of great intellectual and spiritual ferment. Mystics and sophists of all kinds roamed through the Ganga Valley, all advocating some form of mental discipline and asceticism as a means to salvation; but the age of the Buddha, when many of the best minds were abandoning their homes and professions for a life of asceticism, was also a time of advance in commerce and politics. It produced not only philosophers and ascetics, but also merchant princes and men of action.
    • A. L. Basham in The Wonder that was India
  • For the first time in human history, the Buddha admonished, entreated and appealed to people not to hurt a living being, and it is not necessary to offer prayer, praise or sacrifice to gods. With all the eloquence at his command the Buddha vehemently proclaimed that gods are also in dire need of salvation themselves.
    • Thomas William Rhys Davids
  • India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe's languages: she was the mother of our philosophy; mother, through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics; mother, through the Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity; mother, through the village community, of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all.
    • Will Durant,prolific American writer, historian, and philosopher in (The Case for India (1931)
  • If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism...A human being is part of the whole, called by us "Universe"; a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely but striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.
  • I have no hesitation in declaring that I owe a great deal to the inspiration that I have derived from the life of the Enlightened One. Asia has a message for the whole world, if only it would live up to it. There is the imprint of Buddhistic influence on the whole of Asia, which includes India, China, Japan, Burma, Ceylon, and the Malay States. For Asia to be not for Asia but for the whole world, it has to re-learn the message of the Buddha and deliver it to the whole world. His love, his boundless love went out as much to the lower animal, to the lowest life as to human beings. And he insisted upon purity of life.
  • The Buddha is a being who is totally free of all delusions and faults, who is endowed with all good qualities and has attained the wisdom eliminating the darkness of ignorance. The Dharma is the result of his enlightenment. After having achieved enlightenment, a Buddha teaches, and what he or she teaches is called the Dharma. The Sangha is made up of those who engage in the practice of the teachings given by the Buddha. . . . One of the benefits of refuge is that all of the misdeeds you have committed in the past can be purified, because taking refuge entails accepting the Buddha's guidance and following a path of virtuous action.
  • Now in this realm Buddha's speeches are a source and mine of quite unparalleled richness and depth. As soon as we cease to regard Buddha's teachings simply intellectually and acquiesce with a certain sympathy in the age-old Eastern concept of unity, if we allow Buddha to speak to us as vision, as image, as the awakened one, the perfect one, we find him, almost independently of the philosophic content and dogmatic kernel of his teachings, a great prototype of mankind. Whoever attentively reads a small number of the countless speeches of Buddha is soon aware of harmony in them, a quietude of soul, a smiling transcendence, a totally unshakeable firmness, but also invariable kindness, endless patience. As ways and means to the attainment of this holy quietude of soul, the speeches are full of advice, precepts, hints. The intellectual content of Buddha's teaching is only half his work, the other half is his life, his life as lived, as labour accomplished and action carried out. A training, a spiritual self training of the highest order was accomplished and is taught here, a training about which unthinking people who talk about "quietism" and "Hindu dreaminess" and the like in connection with Buddha have no conception; they deny him the cardinal Western virtue of activity. Instead Buddha accomplished a training for himself and his pupils, exercised a discipline, set up a goal, and produced results before which even the genuine heroes of European action can only feel awe.
  • For natures such as Jesus of Nazareth, Mohammed and Gautama Buddha is already the capacity of its openness for a world vision part of its application documents. With its virtues, experiences and abilities they belong to each post written out in the world with each interview to the most promising candidates and easy are erhalten.
    • James Redfield, in the MANUAL of the tenth prophecy of CELESTINE, part of I: The threshold; Heyne publishing house Munich, German-language edition 1997,ISBN 3-453-11809X
Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.
  • If we ask, for instance, whether the position of the electron remains the same, we must say 'no'; if we ask whether the electron's position changes with time, we must say 'no'; if we ask whether the electron is at rest, we must say 'no'; if we ask whether it is in motion, we must say 'no'. The Buddha has given such answers when interrogated as to the conditions of a man's self after his death; but they are not familiar answers for the tradition of seventeenth and eighteenth century science.
  • Buddha conquered the lands of China, Japan, entire South-east Asia, Burma, Indonesia, Java, Sumatra, Lanka and other countries without sending out even one soldier; he spread the message of karuna (mercy), prema (compassion), samanata (equality) and atmasanyam ( tolerance) throughout the world many centuries before Jesus and Mohammad; even today the flame of his sandesha ( message) lights up the whole world and entire humanity with the soft glow of manavatavadi (humanitarian), vaidhnyanik (scientific) and addhatmik (spiritual) message of India.
    • J. K. Verma
  • The fundamental teachings of Gautama, as it is now being made plain to us by study of original sources, is clear and simple and in the closest harmony with modern ideas. It is beyond all disputes the achievement of one of the most penetrating intelligence the world has ever known. Buddhism is the advance of world civilization and true culture than any other influence in the chronicles of mankind.
I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.
  • The Buddha Is Nearer to Us You see clearly a man, simple, devout, lonely, battling for light, a vivid human personality, not a myth. Beneath a mass of miraculous fable I feel that there also was a man. He too, gave a message to mankind universal in its character. Many of our best modern ideas are in closest harmony with it. All the miseries and discontents of life are due, he taught, to selfishness. Selfishness takes three forms — one, the desire to satisfy the senses; second, the craving for immortality; and the third the desire for prosperity and worldliness. Before a man can become serene he must cease to live for his senses or himself. Then he merges into a greater being. Buddha in a different language called men to self-forgetfulness five hundred years before Christ. In some ways he was near to us and our needs. Buddha was more lucid upon our individual importance in service than Christ, and less ambiguous upon the question of personal immortality.
  • The teachings of Buddha are eternal, but even then Buddha did not proclaim them to be infallible. The religion of Buddha has the capacity to change according to times, a quality which no other religion can claim to have...Now what is the basis of Buddhism? If you study carefully, you will see that Buddhism is based on reason. There is an element of flexibility inherent in it, which is not found in any other religion.
    • Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar , Indian scholar, philosopher and architect of Constitution of India, in his writing and speeches

See also

External links

Wikipedia
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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

Alternative spellings

Etymology

Sanskrit सिद्धार्थ गौतम (Siddhārtha Gautama).

Proper noun

Singular
Siddhartha Gautama

Plural
-

Siddhartha Gautama

  1. (Buddhism) A spiritual teacher from ancient India and the founder of Buddhism.

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