The Life of the Buddha
Prepared by Ven. Vodano Sophan
The essay written By Radhika Abeysekera
This book is for free distribution only.
This book is dedicated to my mother and father, Mrs. S. Seneviratna and the late Mr. D. A. Seneviratna.
They made this book a possibility by giving me a Buddhist upbringing. May they attain Nibbaana.
. Invitation of the Gods
Our Bodhisatta (1) was born in Tusita Heaven (2) as a Deva (3) by the name of Svetaketu. The Devas in Tusita Heaven were happy. The time had come for the Bodhisatta to be born in the world for the last time. The Devas invited the Bodhisatta to be born on earth.The Bodhisatta looked down at the world to make sure that the five requirements necessary for His final birth in the world were met. These five requirements are as follows:
1. The right time – The life span of human beings at a time a Buddha is born is between 100 and 100,000 years. If the life span is very short, human beings want to enjoy their short life to the fullest and tend to be very fond of material things. If the life span is very long, they tend to forget the impermanence of life. At this time the Bodhisatta found that the life span was one hundred and twenty years.
2. The right continent – All Buddhas are born in India (known as Jumbudipa at the time of the Buddha). This is because the people of India are spiritually more advanced than people in other countries, and so are more ready for a Buddha.
3. The right area – The city of Kapilavatthu was chosen as the city of the future Buddha, as there was a just and good king and many righteous people living there.
4. The right caste – A Buddha is always born in a high caste – Either a royal caste or a priestly caste. This is necessary, as often persons born in a low caste are not accepted by society.
5. The right mother – The mother of a Buddha has to be very pure. She is a person who has resolved to be a mother of a Buddha and observed the five precepts for many countless past lives. The chosen mother was Queen Mahaa Maayaa, wife of King Suddhodana of Kapilavatthu.
The Bodhisatta saw that the five requirements were met.
(1). Bodhisatta – One on his way to perfection. This is the name given to a person who is trying to be a Buddha.
(2). Tusita Heaven – One of the seven happy planes of life. The Devas in the Tusita Heaven have a life span of 576,000,000 human years. All Bodhisattas who have completed the ten perfections await the right time for their last birth in Tusita Heaven. The next Buddha, the Maithreya Buddha, is at present a Deva by the name of Natha in the Tusita Heaven.
(3). Devas – Heavenly beings known in English as gods or divine beings.
One night Queen Mahaa Maayaa had a dream. She dreamt that the Devas from the four directions of the earth took her to Lake Anotatta on top of the Himalayan mountain. She was bathed in the lake and dressed in heavenly clothes and ornaments. A white baby elephant carrying a white lotus flower in its trunk trumpeted, and after circling around her three times, entered her body.
The next morning she told King Suddhodana of her dream. He consulted some wise men who, on hearing the dream said, “The Queen will have a wise and noble baby boy.” The king and queen were very happy for they had no children and were longing for a child.
. The birth of a Prince
According to the custom of that time, Queen Mahaa Maayaa decided to visit her mother so that she could be with her at the time of the birth of her baby.On the way she stopped at the Lumbini Pleasure Garden to rest. Under a sweet-scented Sal tree, on a full moon day in the month of May, in the year 623 B.C., the Prince was born. The baby Prince took seven steps, and a lotus flower burst through the ground to receive His feet. He made the following announcement:
“Aggo hamasmi lokassa – “I am the Chief in the world
Jettho hamasmi lokassa – There is no equal to me
Settho hamasmi lokassa – I am Supreme
Ayamanthima jathi – This is my last birth
Natthi dani punabbhavo. – ” No rebirth for me.”
It is said in the Anagata Vamsa that the next Buddha, Maithreya, will make a similar announcement at His birth.
The ministers took the Queen and the baby back to Kapilavatthu and King Suddhodana. Many wise men came to see the baby. They said that one day the Prince would either be a King of the world or a Supreme Buddha. The baby Prince was named Siddhaartha Gotama. Siddhaartha means “wish fulfilled” and Gotama was His family name. Seven days after the birth of the Prince, Queen Mahaa Maayaa died. She was born as a Deva by the name of Matu-deva putta in the Tusita Heaven. Her sister, Mahaa Prajaapathi Gotami, took care of the Prince.