We all know Gautam Buddha is recognized as someone who founded Buddhism. But do we really know who Gautam Buddha is, where was he born, and how was his life?
There are many exciting aspects of his life from the time he was born and the things he did in his life later on. We treat Buddha as a deity, however, he was a normal human being just like us who happened to go on a journey of spirituality and meditation.
Gautam Buddha childhood- born nobility and spent his early age as a prince Gautam Buddha was not his actual name. He was born a prince and was named Siddhartha Gautam. His story begins in Lumbini, Nepal where he was born. Siddhartha Gautam was born in a palace and was secluded from the outer world. He was trained to become a powerful king of the Lumbini Kingdom.
Siddhartha Gautam was prevented from coming into any contact with pain and suffering. However, on a rare outing, Siddhartha Gautam got to see the objective outer world. He noticed a peculiar emotion. The emotion of pain and suffering, which he was never aware about.
On his first outing, he met an old man. It was his charioteer who explained to him that all people will grow old someday. He also discovered a corpse, a diseased man, and an ascetic. Siddhartha Gautam saw a sick man and realized that everyone would become old, sick & then eventually face death.
His analysis of the world was that he could overcome pain and suffering through meditation. So, at the age of 29, he left the palace and began his journey to gain enlightenment.
Siddhartha Gautam's Wife and Son:
Siddhartha Gautam was married to Yasodhara. We know very little about Yasodhara. However, it is believed that she was born on the same day as Buddha. Yasodhara gave birth to their son Rahula. Shortly after Rahula was born, Siddhartha Gautam left the palace to live as a wandering ascetic.
Buddha did return home after a few years upon his father’s request and his promise to return home once he was enlightened. On his return, Yasodhara urged his son Rahula to ask his father about his inheritance. However, to his son’s request for an inheritance, Buddha said that he had something more valuable than inheritance, which is “dharma”.
Rahula also showed his keen interest and dedication to being a monk. Rahula’s decision pained the King for the second time.
In a related story, Yasodhara was desperately waiting for her husband to come. However, she is still mad at Siddhartha Gautam that he left her, forcing her to live the life of an abandoned wife. So, when Buddha did return to his father’s invitation for dinner, Yasodhara refused to meet at the dinner.
Yasodhara said that he must come to her private quarter instead. Out of kindness, Buddha did appear in her private quarter. Yasodhara wept and cried, but Siddhartha was never going to return to her husband again as there was no going back.
Destined to rule the world yet become a universal spiritual leader- enlightenment
Siddhartha Gautam, to find answers to his questions, left his home in Kapilvastu at the age of 29 to live a life of a wandering ascetic. To understand the world around him and himself, Siddhartha Gautam started meditating.
In the process of meditation, he went from place to place to master the art of meditation. His journey began to enlighten him with mindfulness, kindness, and other emotions as he meditated under a bodhi tree.
He achieved enlightenment on the 49th day of his continuous meditation under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, Bihar (part of India). Siddhartha understood the causes of pain and suffering and became the Buddha, the enlightened one or the awakened one.
Buddha attained nirvana. This means that his soul would never be reborn again, and does not have to live another life of pain and suffering. Buddha got enlightened at the age of 35.
It is believed that he remained alive till the age of 80 so that he could communicate his insights to others on the earth. So, his insights and teachings are what we probably know today as Buddhism.
Founder of Buddhism
Buddhism is more about the faith and teachings of Buddha rather than religion. It was only after Gautam Buddha passed away that his followers organized religious movements, his teachings to his followers and established him as the foundation of Buddhism.
Over the years, Buddhism religion spread across countries with many different interpretations. Buddhism is based on the four noble truths of Buddha's teachings. And the four noble truth includes:
- There is suffering. This is not in a negative sense because it is a reality. Happiness and sadness nothing lasts forever.
- There is cause for suffering. The reasons for suffering come from the fact that people fall sick, age, and eventually face death someday.
- There is an end to suffering. This means that life has to offer other things besides pain and suffering.
- The eightfold path is the fourth noble truth which is Buddha’s last teaching for ending suffering by living life ethically and developing mental discipline.
Lumbini: the birthplace of Buddha & its historic importance
Lumbini is the place where Buddha was born. It is located in Nepal. Today, Lumbini is a significant destination for tourists and a pilgrimage site. This is also a place where Buddha lived luxurious life until the age of 29 as the prince. It is believed that Mayadevi was returning to her parent's home in Kapilvastu, however on the way she went into labor and gave birth to Siddhartha Gautam under a tree. When Siddhartha was born, after a few seconds his birth, he said that it was his final re-birth and took seven steps. Each step he took turned into a lotus.
Emperor Asoka of India also became a flower of Buddhism and visited Lumbini. He erected pillar encryption, mentioning that it was the birthplace of Buddha. He built four stupas around the village to mark the boundary.
However, this site was forgotten until German Archaeologists found the pillar made by emperor Asoka. Today, Lumbini is home to religious structures, ancient temples, and sacred bodhi trees under which Buddha meditated.
Apart from this Lumbini also holds the following significance:
- Worldwide, it is one of the four main Buddhist pilgrimage sites.
- It is a UNESCO world heritage site.
As Buddha is considered an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, it is also an important Hindu pilgrimage site. If you want to get closer to the life of Gautam Buddha and get first-hand experience with his birthplace, you can check out our Lumbini Tour Package from Kathmandu or Pokhara package.
Lumbini Tour Package from Kathmandu or Pokhara
One of the popular tour packages in Nepal is the Pokhara-Chitwan-Lumbini tour package. In the western country, Nepal is either known as the Country of Mount Everest or The birthplace of Lord Buddha. Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. People who want to know more about the life of Gautam Buddha make it a point that they visit Lumbini at least once in their lifetime.
Lumbini represents the spirituality that Nepal is known for. Once you visit Lumbini, you will know more about Gautam Buddha's teachings and the life he lived before getting enlightenment.
Pokhara is a popular city for tourists to visit. The Annapurna mountain range and the valley are why the city is a popular destination for national and international tourists. A lot of popular trekking starters from Pokhara and the city itself offers a lot for visitors.
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Likewise, Chitwan is the home of wilderness in Nepal. This place is famous for jungle safari and close interactions with wildlife such as the one-horn rhino, royal Bengal tiger, deer, etc. You’ll also get to meet with the indigenous community of Tharus and get to see their traditional stick dance.
So, the people who want to experience Pokhara, Chitwan, and Lumbini, can consider this adventurous tour. Kathmandu to Pokhara is a 6-hour drive, and Pokhara to Lumbini is another 5/6-hour drive. You can explore Pokhara, and get a direct flight to Bhairahawa Airport and drive to Lumbini.
Not to mention, your time in Kathmandu and excursion to historical sites will be equally rewarding.
Places of Interest in Lumbini:
World Peace Pagoda:
As its name suggests, the world peace pagoda is a peaceful Lumbini garden. This pagoda was built by a Japanese monk and is also the best place to view the sunset in Lumbini. It is also a part of protected land because it is a habitat for Sarus Crane. From the top of the World peace pagoda, you can see the Crane sanctuary. The world Peace pagoda at the northern end of Lumbini unites humanity, looking for long-lost peace.
Lumbini Crane Sanctuary:
A sight that is visible from the World Peace Pagoda. It is a protected area for the rare Sarus crane. In the evening time, you get the most wonderful view of the sunset and the sight of the cranes.
Situated near one of the historic cities of Nepal, Kapil Vastu, Tilaurakot is where Siddhartha Gautam was raised until the age of 29. During your visit, you will be able to sense how big the city is where Buddha was raised. You will realize how isolated he was from the outer world and protected by his father. You will not help but understand why Siddhartha Gautam was keen to dig deeper beyond the walls.
This place is located at a distance of 7 km from Buddha’s home, Kapilvastu, and holds an important part of Buddha’s story. Kudan is the place where Buddha met his father after he received his enlightenment. This place sends an important message. A message where Buddha’s family accepts the life he wants to live, including his son Rahula.
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Gotihawa is the place where Buddha was born. It is a sacred palace for people following the Buddhist religion. Emperor Ashoka erected a pillar dedicated to Buddha during his pilgrimage. The Pillar was 10 feet high, however today you can only see the distorted bottom as the Pillar sank under where it was built over time.
Lumbini Garden is not the only palace where Buddha was born, it was the family home of his mother Mayadevi. Mayadevi returned to her family home from Kapilvastu to give birth to Siddhartha Gautam. Here, you will find beautiful Buddhist shrines built by Buddha’s devotees from different countries. This place is not only meant to feel the spiritual enlightenment of Buddha but is also a place of peaceful and calm surroundings.
The Maya Devi Temple:
Maya Devi Temple is a place that was built by king Ashoka during his visit to Lumbini with burnt bricks to guard the place where Maya Devi gave birth to Gautam Buddha.
Puskar the Scared Pond:
Puskarini is a sacred pond south of the Mayadevi temple. It has historic importance as it is believed that Mayadevi took a bath in this pond before giving it to Siddhartha Gautam. Gautam Buddha was also given his purification bath in the same pond.
Royal Thai Buddhist Monastery
The Royal Thai Buddhist Monastery is completely built with marble. The major attractions of this monastery are the garden and the golden statues. It also has a blue meditation center.
he was a normal human being just like us who happened to go on a journey of spirituality and meditation.