Siddhartha Sketch of the Life of Sakyamuni, the Founder of Buddhism Although the numerous legends respecting the life

und works of Sakyamuni, the reputed founder of the Buddhist faith, contain much that is fabulous, yet most of the incidents mentioned therein, when deprived of the marvelous garb with which early historians invariably used to embellish their tales, seem to be based on matters of fact. At present scientific researches have put Sakyamuni's real existence beyond a doubt; but the period in which he lived will ever remain somewhat vaguely defined. Sakyanmni was born at Kapilavastu in Gorakhpur near Bihar. The legends tell us that his father, the king Suddhodana, requested one hundred and eight learned Brahmans to inform him of his son's destiny; the Brahmans, the legends say, after a careful examination of the prince's body, expressed their conviction that, "if he remained a layman during his lifetime, he would become a powerful monarch of vast territories; but in the event of his turning recluse, he would enter the state of a supreme Buddha or wise man: and in solemn assembly they declared that this prince would hereafter prove a blessing to the world, and that lie himself would also enjoy great prosperity." It was in consequence of this answer, that the prince received the name of Siddhartha, "the establisher. Siddhartha proved to be endowed with extraordinary acuities, and the legends even go so far as to assert that, when he was about to be taught his letters, he could already distinguish them, and his eminent qualities were manifest, not only in his mental, but also in bodily perfection. It is added as particularly characteristic that already in his youth he was inclined to retirement and solitude: he abandoned his gay, playful comrades and buried himself in the dark recesses of dense forests, where he gave himself up to profound meditation. Suddhodana, the father, however, wished his son to become rather a powerful monarch, than a lonely ascetic. When, therefore, after a renewed consultation -with the Brahmans, he learned that Siddhartha would certainly leave his magnificent palace and become an ascetic, in the event of his seeing four things, viz. decrepitude, sickness, a dead body, and a recluse, he placed guards on all sides of the palace, in order that these dreaded objects might not come near his beloved son. Moreover, in order to weaken his love of solitude and meditation, he married him to Gopa, the daughter of Dandapani, of the race of the Sakyas, and gave orders that he should be provided with every kind of pleasure. But all these precautions pro veil futile. Siddhartha, though living in the midst of festivities and in the enjoyment of all worldly pleasures, never ceased to reflect upon the pains which arise from' birth, sickness, decay, and death; upon their causes, and upon the remedies to be used against them.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful