Origins of Buddhism
A Carved Buddha
and Four Disciples
Birth of the Buddha
Siddhartha Gautama was born as the son of a wealthy and powerful ruler of a small kingdom called lumbini. His mother was called Queen Mayadevi and his father was King Shuddhodana. The sage present at his birth had already foretold that the prince would become either an ascetic or a supreme monarch. Legend had it that a white elephant had entered her womb the very night she was conceiving the child, indicating that the child was going to be a pure and powerful being.
How he became Buddha
Towards his midlife, Siddhartha Gatama began to feel the hollowness underlying his superficial comfortable life and felt a great sense of dissatisfaction. Legend had it that he saw a sickly old man lying on death's bed, a fact of old age. He knew that he had 2 options to choose from. The first is to shun reality, the second is to forgo all the luxuries he was enjoying and face reality. Of course, he chose the latter option. At age 29, he left home, shaved his hair and lived his life as a monk seeking full enlightenment. Fighting against Mara, the Evil One, he won and eventually went into deeper mediation, finally gaining enlightenment and became the Buddha.
Myths with Buddha
Buddha formed a Shakya Clan in which those enlightened join. In some myths, it is said that a woman named Kisa Gotami ran up to him and asked him for the cure for her dead son. Buddha told her to get a mustard seed, from a house where no one had died. Naturally, in every house somebody had died and therefore no mustard seed could be found. It finally dawned on the woman that everybody must die, death comes to all, the woman finally saw light and gained enlightenment. He died at 80 years old, after passing all his knowledge to his disciples.