(Last Updated on : 22/04/2015)
Darkness of ignorance blinded earth after the departure of Lord Krishna
(Krishna Avatar). The Kali Yuga (Epoch) set in with the air of decadence. True knowledge of the Vedas
and the purity of the State of Devotion or Bhakti Yoga
, was relegated to the background. Empty rituals like needless animal sacrifices, harmful superstitions such as caste-creed discriminations and distortions of Dharma, introduced by the demonic and orthodox Brahman, became the order of the day. Above all, the absence of love, compassion, tolerance, and peace, welcomed the prevalence of evil ignorance. Seeing earth degrading into hollow nothingness, Lord Vishnu
manifested himself as Buddha
,or the Enlightened One.
Srimad Bhagavatam deifies Buddha as the Dasavatar or Ten Avatars of MahaVishnu:
" matsya-kurmo varahas ca nrsimha-vamanas tatha |
ramo ramas ca ramas ca buddha-kalkis ca te dasah ||
In the Dasavatara-stotra section of his Gita Govinda, the renowned Vaishnava,poet Jayadeva Goswami (13th C AD) celebrates the Buddha as one of the Dasavatar of Vishnu: "O Keshava! O Lord of the universe! O Lord Hari, who have assumed the form of Buddha! All glories to You! O Buddha of compassionate heart, you decry the slaughtering of poor animals performed according to the rules of Vedic sacrifice."
The Great founder of the Buddhist faith, Gautama Buddha was born to Mayadevi and the virtuous king Suddhodhana, of the Shakya (Shaka) clan of Ksythrias or Royals in the Videhan (Nepalese) Dynasty around 3000 years ago. He was born amidst the sylvan surroundings of the Lumbini forest. He was named "Siddhartha Gautama". He was also called Gautama , because he was a descendant of Gotama, one of the Seven Great Sages or Sapta Rishis, mentioned in the Vedic religion and Puranas . Again "Siddhartha" implies a successful man whose aims are achieved/who is efficient in accomplishing his aims". Indeed Gautama would evolve as an enlightened sage called Buddha, who would become Siddhartha with the attainment of the Highest Truth in Moksha
The festivity following the birth of Prince Siddhartha was attended by the visionary hermit Asita, who predicted that either this extraordinary baby would grow up into a brilliant king (Chakravartin) or a venerated holy sage.
When Gautama was thirteen years old, he ventured out on with his royal escort. He "four sights": an old crippled man, a diseased man, a decaying corpse, and finally an ascetic. Gautama realized then the fundamental truth of life - that death, disease, age, and pain were inevitable to the mortals, in this valley of death, called Earth. The material prosperity yields no fruit, as man has to leave the mortal frame in death.
In the age of 16, Suddhodhana, his father got Gautama married to a cousin of the same age, Yashodhara,. Eventually their son, Rahula was born. However speculations on the graver aspects of life, continued to haunt Gautama.
The future Buddha, renounced the householder's life in the quest of the Ultimate Truth. He could embrace this decision, because he had a sense of satisfaction, having been able to fulfill the duties or Karma, he, owed to Yashodhara and King Suddhodhana. His wife though would be intensely depressed, but still could live with the rearing of his son Rahula. While Suddhodhana would find solace in Rahula, as a shadow of Gautama and as the perpetuator of the posterity of the Shakya tribe.
The ascetic resorted to Samana-asceticism for six years to discover the Real Truth. It involved the difficult practice of extreme self-abstinence in intense penance to invite death and separate the soul from the physical frame. This brings in extreme happiness and peace.
He retired from Samana-ship. And afterwards, he practiced a Middle Path that had been advocated a lot in his teachings. This was a life of harmony between two extremes i.e., self-mortification and self-indulgence.
Gautama then journyed to Magadha
, to learn the sublime destination of meditation
. His Guru Alara-Kalama led him into an elevated formless world where physical matter is longer present. His second spiritual guide, Uddaka-Ramaputta, made him reach the ethereal state where neither thought nor non-thought existed.
Siddhartha absorbed all the knowledge that he could gather from the various methods of meditation. Yet his frantic search for the Absolute Truth continued. Finally he visited Gaya
and settled under a Bodhi tree
to quench his thirst. He comprehended the Inviolable Truth that Emancipation of the soul or Moksha by embracing the Four Noble Truths. They are:
 Suffering is universal. All are assaulted by death, disease, old age, sorrow, grief, despair and the cycles of rebirth. Worldly pleasures and luxuries are temporary, as death would overpower all.
 Desire and Aspirations, are the source of Suffering. The threefold cravings that bind man to the chains of birth and rebirth are Sensual Craving, Craving for Longevity, and Craving for Wealth and Power. There are also a sixfold desire harboured by the six sense organs: eye yearns for forms, the ear yearns for sounds, the nose yearns for smell, the tongue yearns for taste, the body yearns for objects, and the mind yearns for dreams.
 Suffering can end with the elimination of this three fold craving, by denouncing and rejecting it. It is the liberation and detachment culminates into the Bliss of Nirvana
(absolute Enlightenment in freedom).
 The recognition of the Noble Truth , by walking on the Eightfold or Middle Path, dissolves all suffering and lamentation.
The Eightfold Path influences man to be spiritually reborn as Buddha into Enlightenment or Awakened Consciousness.
The eight ways are:
Right Speech leads to Truth and Understanding
Right Understanding leads to Wisdom
 Right Livelihood leads to Sharing
 Right Mindfulness leads to Purposeful Living
 Right Aspiration leads to Divine Inclination
 Right Behavior leads to Goodwill
Right Absorption leads to Unity
 Right Effort leads to Highest Outcome
Dharma in Buddhism
is depicted as a Wheel of Dharma or Righteousness. Buddhism highlights Dharma not as a philosophy, but as a law of the universe. Morality reins supreme in the beginning, in the middle and in the end, even if vice tries to replace it. The Wheel of Dharma continues to rotate, covering all the aspects of life. Dharma should reside in the acts or Karma that an individual perform. It is one's deeds that yield the consequences. If a person as the religion or Dharma of life, the Wheel of Dharma or the Order of the Circularity of Existence authentically adheres to, goodness in action or Karma, definitely rewards. All that is well ends well. But if sin is committed and repentance is not felt, punishment in the form of suffering befalls. It multiplies the degree of pains in the cycle of birth and rebirth. Therefore Karma is Dharma or Work is Religion.
Buddha propagated the doctrine of Ahimsa
or non-violence. Torture of one being by the other, hurting one by inflicting pains and sadness or unkindness in any form is strictly prohibited in Buddhism. What Buddha spread among the depraved and corrupt people of his times, was the gospel of love, kindness, patience, humility, sacrifice and self-restraint ushers in ultimate happiness and illumination of the Purest Knowledge.
Aptly has described the Brahmanda Purana that Buddha reestablished a reign of Dharma, cultivated by the virtuous gods and Devas. Buddha reformed the downtrodden demons, symbolising wickedness, their characteristic property.
"Mohanartham danavanam balarupi pathi-sthitah |
putram tam kalpayam asa mudha-buddhir jinah svayam ||
tatah sammohayam asa jinadyan asuramsakan |
bhagavan vagbhir ugrabhir ahimsa-vacibhir harih ||"
This message when translated, approximates to: "In order to delude the demons, he (Lord Buddha) was present in the form of a child on the way while the foolish Jina (a demon), imagined him to be his son. Later on, Lord Sri Hari (as avatara-buddha) expertly deluded Jina and other demons by his strong words of non-violence."
Buddha traversed all over the country , inspiring people with the mantra of "Truth" and Ahimsa, nurtured by the Three Gems-Dharma( Religion of Righteousness), Buddha(Perfectly Enlightened Mind) and Sangha(the Awakened Beings who provide support and guidance). Two reputed teachers, Sariputra and Maudgalyayana, and their two thousand disciples joined him. Even Buddha's Father, King Suddhodana, Maha-Prajapati, the Buddha's stepmother, and the Princess Yasodhara, his wife, and all the members of the Shakya clan, became his devoted and faithful followers.
For forty-five years the Buddha preached, at Vaisali
on the way from Rajagriha to Sravasti, he became ill and foretold that after three months he would enter Nirvana. Still he voyaged to the border of Kuninagara castle. He delivered his last sermon to his favorite disciples before he entered into Parinirvana, to leave his mortal structure.
Buddha affirmed the cult of spiritual richness. He avowed that what is imperishable is the soul or Atman. Therefore spiritual sacredness is the greatest wealth that survives the attacks of time and death and gifts ecstasy. He is an Avatar in the truest sense of the word. Robert Crosbie's The Friendly Philosopher illustrates the role of an Avatar:
"A Siddha-Purusha (perfect man) is like an archaeologist who removes the dust and lays open an old well which has been covered up by ages of disuse. The Avatara, on the other hand is like an engineer who sinks a new well in a place where there was no water before. Great Men give salvation to those only who have the waters of piety hidden in themselves, but the Avatara saves him too whose heart is devoid of love and dry as a desert."