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Buddhism is based on the life, revelations and teachings of Siddhartha Gautama (560-480 BC). Siddhartha (Buddah) was born the prince of the Sakhya to King Suddhodana and his wife, Queen Mayadevi. Kumar N. (2004) “Scriptures assert that Buddha chose a king as his father since the royal caste was more respected that the priestly one”. Queen Mayadevi is believed to have been miraculously impregnated by a white elephant that touched her right side with its trunk in a dream. Royal fortunetellers believed that the dream indicated that Queen Mayadevi was indeed with child and that the child would have extraordinary qualities.

The birth of Siddhartha (Buddha) is an amazing tale of miracles. According to Kumar N. (2004)… Queen Mayadevi carried the child for 10 months before giving birth. Following tradition, Mayadevi journeyed to her mother’s home for assistance in the birthing of her child. However, Buddha is said to have been born in a beautiful grove where Mayadevi had stopped to rest during the journey. As she stepped out of her carriage she grabbed hold of the branch of a nearby tree and immediately went into labor. Buddha is said to have instantaneously emerged from her right side. The infant Buddha immediately began to walk in the grove and lotus flowers sprang up from his every footprint. He even spoke with comprehensively structured words and is quoted as saying, “Worlds above, worlds below, there’s [sic] no one in the world like me” (Kumar N., 2004, paragraph 10).

Siddhartha was born with at least 32 providential marks (Mahavyanjana) and numerous minor marks (Anuvyanjana) on his body. Astrologers of the time interpreted these birthmarks as an indication Siddhartha’s future. Their interpretations predicted that Siddhartha was destined to take one of two very different paths to in fulfilling his destiny for greatness. (Rahula W., n.d.) “The child, on attaining manhood, would become either a universal monarch (Chakravarti), or abandoning house and home, would assume the robe of a monk and become a Buddha, a perfectly enlightened soul, for the salvation of mankind”. Their predictions included four signs, a crippled person, a sick person, a deceased person, and a monk seeking eternal rather than worldly pleasure. King Suddhodana realized that for Siddhartha to become Buddha he would have to see the four signs.

King Suddhodana tried to hide the four signs from his son in an attempt to ensure his future as a universal monarch. According to Fisher M.P. (2005)… Siddhartha was raised in the lap of luxury. He was accustomed to superior garments, colognes, cosmetics, the company of female musicians, and a harem of dancing girls. He was trained in martial arts and even had a mansion for each season. He was married to Yasodhara when he was just 16. He also had one son named Rahula. Yet with all the worldly possessions and sensual pleasures of royalty laid at his feet, he felt empty and uncertain of the importance of his existence. Eventually, the Gods brought the four signs to Siddhartha.

The four signs brought new meaning to Siddhartha‘s existence. After seeing the first three sights, Siddhartha was saddened by the existence of human suffering and inevitable death from old age. The vision of a monk seeking eternal rather than worldly pleasure suggested the possibility of a life of denial. Siddhartha set out to find the way to liberate human suffering when he was 29 years old. He literally went from a life of extreme wealth and self indulgence to extreme poverty and self-denial.

Siddhartha renounced the life of royalty, left his wife and newborn child, donned the robe of a monk and set out to study Brahman traditions. He dedicated six years of his life searching for enlightenment through traditional Brahman techniques. He is said to have endured personal humility and self sacrifice through a number of extreme Brahman techniques which included intense fasting. Kumar N. (2004) asserts that… As a...
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