If there is one name that inspires all humanity, irrespective of one’s religion or nationality, it is that of Gautam Buddha. His life, full of sacrifice, compassion and meditation motivates us to follow the path set by him; a journey replete with ethical values, which ensures our personal spiritual growth.
The great Buddha (sometimes spelt Buda
) was born into a royal family as a prince. His gotra (family name) was ‘Gautama’. Raised in an atmosphere of extravagant indulgence, Gautam Buddha
constantly had an excess of material comfort at his hands. Very soon, by divine inspiration, he started realizing the hollowness of materialism and there began to grow in his heart the seeds of detachment.
His vairagya began to slowly flower; once, on an outdoor trip, Gautam‘s gaze fell upon a sick man and the latter’s suffering disturbed him immensely. On other excursions, he saw first a tottering old man and than a dead one. In all these instances Gautam Buddha’s detachment grew stronger and stronger till one day he decided to give it all up and go in search of a happiness which would be permanent.
It was only after intense concentration that the great Buddha realized that true happiness and peace lay within one’s own self and not outside. This realization came to Gautama while meditating under the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya, one of the most important centres of Buddhist pilgrimage. Actually, this is where the word ‘Buddha’ (meaning awakened in Sanskrit) became attached to his family name Gautam. After his enlightenment, Gautam Buddha set out to reveal to the world what had been revealed to him at Bodh Gaya
. It is no wonder that the image of Buddha meditating under the Bodhi tree
is one of the most popular in Buddhist art.
The essential message of Gautam Buddha is to look inside of us rather than outside. It is for this reason that in most of his representations, the Buddha is depicted with semi-closed eyes, signifying an introspective demeanour. One of his epithets brings out this aspect beautifully, namely ‘Shakyamuni
’, which means a ‘silent lion’.
Gautam Buddha inspires us to make use of our own inherent potential, to reach the blissful state of maximum, unending happiness.
Buddha - A Hero's Journey to Nirvana
Gautam Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha, in the lap of luxury. Exposed to an overdose of riches and comfort right from the beginning, the prince, while still relatively young, exhausted for himself the fields of fleshly joy, thus becoming ripe for a higher, transcendent experience.
The young prince remained glued to his pleasure chambers and had no contact with ground reality. His palace, and the sensual pleasures which it contained, were his only limiting worlds. Read more...
Mudras of the Great Buddha: Symbolic Gestures and Postures
A mudra is used not only to illustrate and emphasize the meaning of an esoteric ritual. It also gives significance to a sculptural image, a dance movement, or a meditative pose, intensifying their potency. In its highest form, it is a magical art of symbolical gestures through which the invisible forces may operate on the earthly sphere. It is believed that the sequence itself of such ritual hand postures may have eventually contributed to the development of the mudras of Indian Classical dance. Read more...
Putting The Ocean in a Bowl - The Origin of the Buddha Image
The absence of the Buddha image in early Buddhist art has been as diversely interpreted. It is largely believed that the Buddha had himself prohibited his images, though this view is little supported by Buddhist literature. J. C. Huntington, who claims that the Buddha image had come into being in Buddha's own lifetime, quotes a passage from the Vinaya of the Sarvastivadins in his Studies in Buddhist Art of South Asia under "The Origin of the Buddha Image". The passage is an indirect injunction against his image making, but the words used in it comprise as much a sanction for it. In the passage, Anathapindika asks the Great Lord," World honored one, if images of yours are not allowed to be made, pray, may we not at least make images of Bodhisattvas in attendance upon you?" The Buddha gives his assent to it. Read more...
Dying After Death: The Buddha's Final Liberation
To understand Buddha’s approach to death we have to go back to his life. When he was exposed to the three inevitable sufferings, which must be undergone by all living beings – namely disease, old age and death the would-be-Buddha was taken aback with fear.
The charming and ancient poem Buddhacharita, forming one of the principal sources for the life of Buddha, describes his poignant encounter with death:
"This person bereft of intelligence, sense organs and breath, is now but a lifeless log of wood. He is abandoned by his near and dear ones who had once painfully taken care of him. Destruction indeed is inevitable for all in the world". Read more...
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