But, let's go back to the beginning. At the time of Buddha's birth, India was very spiritually open, meaning, every philosophy was present int he daily lives of India's people and they expected their philosophies to impact their lives positively every day. When Siddharta was growing up he was known as being exceptionally intelligent and compassionate. He was tall and handsome, putting him into the Warrior caste of society. He was predicted to become a great king or a spiritual leader, so his parents, who wanted him to be a powerful king, kept him from seeing the hate in the world and surrounded him with pleasures beyond measure. As he aged, he was given five hundred attractive women for pleasure and sport, one of whom named Yasodhara, he won in an archery contest to be his wife.
But at age 29, Siddharta learned something he had never had to think of before. One day after a rare venture from his palace, Siddharta saw three things he had never been faced with before. A sick man, a crippled old man, and a dead man. It made him realize that sickness, age, and death are inevitable, and will eventually consume everyone he loved. He could hardly cop with the fact that he had no solace to offer them when they were consumed with age and death. The next day, Siddharta went for a morning walk outside of the palace where he saw a man meditating. It is said, that when their eyed met, Siddharta realized that the perfection he was seeking was all in his mind and not in the outside world alone. He then realized that he had a knew purpose in life.
|The Buddha at Bodhgaya|
Siddharta left the palace secretly one day and fled into the forest where he would spend the next six years mastering various techniques for meditation and enlightenment. He finally found himself in a place called Bodhgaya, where he decided that he would stay and meditate until he knew the mind's true nature and could spread this knowledge to all beings. He finally reached his full enlightenment on the full moon morning in May a week before his 35 birthday. After this, he traveled on foot through Northern India teaching nonstop for 45 years. People from all castes were drawn to him, homeless to royalty. He answered all their questions and pointed them in the direction of what is ultimately real. Throughout his teachings, he always invited his students to question him and confirm them through their own experiences.
|Yasodhara and Rahula|
Another influence to Buddhism is Buddha's wife, Yasodhara, later known as Gautama Buddha. She was married to Siddharta on their 16th birthdays and they were together until Siddharta left for enlightenment at age 29. It was then that she gave birth to their first and only child, Rahula. Siddharta left immediately after his birth, breaking Yasodhara's heart. After she learned that her husband was living a holy life, Yasodhara removed all of her jewelry, donned a yellow robe, and only ate one meal a day. Over the years, she rejected the hands of many princes who sought her for her beauty and also rejected wealth from her family, saying she was living the way she believed she should. Throughout Siddharta's six year absense, Yasodhara followed news of him closely.
When the Buddha visited the city where Yasodhara was, she chose to not go and see her former husband, but rather send their son to Buddha to seek inheritance. Buddha came to see her, and admired her patience and sacrifice.
Some time after Rahula entered into Monkhood, Yasodhara also entered the Order of the Monks and Nuns to obtain her own enlightenment. She became a bhikkhuni with the five hundred women following a series of specific meditative practices where the bhikkhuni Order was created. Yasodhara died at the age of 78, two years before the Buddha.
Interesting Links: https://youtu.be/Lxq-RiLb-6M