A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Who was Siddharta Gautama?

The historical Buddha, Siddharta Gautama. Buddha is derived from the Sanskrit word, budh, which means Awakened One Supremely Awakened. It is not a name; rather it’s a title, the same as when we use President, or Prime Minister. Unlike the founders of monotheistic faiths, he never claimed to be a messenger from God. He found a middle path between asceticism and hedonism, which allowed him to become fully awakened. He then told all who would listen, how he found this path , the signs that guided him to his destination. Siddharta Gautama was born in the foothills of the Himalayas, to his mother Queen Mahamaya, and father King Suddhodana, who ruled over the Shakya kingdom.  Siddharta means “a wish fulfilled” or “aim accomplishment.” His parents were devout followers of the Brahmin faith, which was the predominate on a that time on the Indian sub-continent. Upon the baby being born, his parents consulted a fortune teller, who predicted Siddharta would either be  a great mystic or follow in his father’s footsteps as king. He would be king only if he did not see the reality of death, disease and decay. His parents did their best to see to it, he was not exposed to these. His father had the elderly moved away, the sick sent to other places for treatment, even the dead leaves and plants were fastidiously removed. He was s tutored by the finest teachers, became a championship athlete, and a skillful warrior. He married Yashodhara, who was said to be one of the most beautiful maidens known. He had what a lot of us would call a perfect life.

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