By Jayaram V
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Here is a brief sketch of the life of the Buddha also known as
Siddhartha, Gautama and Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, after he received
enlightenment. We have presented the life of the Buddha in two parts.
This is part 3.
After attaining the stage of Nirvana under the bodhi tree, the Buddha remained
in the same place for a few more weeks contemplating upon the Truths he
just realized and then left for the world he renounced a few years ago to preach
the Truths he just realized.
His early sermons
Leaving the bodhi tree, the Buddha went to Ispitana near Benares to see the five
monks who deserted him few months ago. When the monks saw him approaching them they
decided not to accord him any special welcome and pay him any respects. But when
the Buddha came nearer them, they failed to keep up their resolve. They all stood
up and bowed to him reverently. They were not aware that the Buddha had attained
enlightenment. So they addressed him as 'Brother'. The Buddha requested them gently
not to address him so since he had become a Buddha of clear vision. He made them
sit in front of him and delivered his first sermon known as "Setting in Motion the
Wheel of Law".
He taught them the middle path, the Four Noble Truths concerning the origin of
suffering, the cause of suffering , the ending of suffering and the Eightfold path
that would lead to the ending of suffering. After listening to the discourse, the
five monks joined the Buddhist order and became his disciples. A few days later
he gave them his second sermon on anatta (anatma) or the non-existence of soul.
A day after the second sermon a young man named yasa and fifty four of his companions
joined the order and received initiation from the Buddha. The Buddha sent them in
different directions to preach and reveal the new doctrine to other people.
Conversions and expansion of the Order
He then proceeded to Uravela, where he converted some more people including a
few Brahmins. Uravela Kassapa, who later became one of his prominent disciples was
among them. He taught them his third sermon on the truth concerning fire of lust,
the fire of resentment and the fire of enchantment.
From Uravela, he went to Rajagriha to keep his earlier promise. There king Bimbisara
met him and paid him great respects. He and members of his court were converted
to the new faith. He also built a monastery for the Buddha and his followers in
a near by bamboo grove and requested the latter to stay there for sometime. During
this period he converted two more Brahmin ascetics, Sariputta and Mogallana. Both
became arhats in short time.
Journey to Kapilavasthu
A few months later, the Buddha went to Kapilavasthu at the request of his father
Suddhodana. He stayed in Nirgodha grove near the city and received his father and
other members of the royal family. We are told that the Buddha performed a miracle
infront of them to show them that he had become the Buddha and to prevent them from
treating him like one of their family members. When he was at Kapilavasthu, he converted
his father to Buddhism. He also saw his wife and son, who were also converted to
the new faith. On his way back to Rajagriha he also converted several Sakya princes
to his teachings and admitted them into his Order. Chief among them were his cousins
Ananda who later became his chief attendant and Devadatta who became his arch enemy.
Donations from the wealthy
By this time the Buddha's name and fame spread to various parts of the Gangetic
plain. Many people began joining his Order and following him wherever he went. Many
wealthy merchants impressed by his radical teaching supported his Order with their
generous donations and gifts of monasteries. Prominent among them were Ananthapindika
who donated the famous Jetavana grove with a monastery built in between and Vishaka,
the wife of a wealthy merchant from Sravasthi, who donated a monastery to the Order
The buddha is credited with the act of settling a dispute between two warring
groups, the Sakyas and the Koliyas by meeting them personally and convincing them
of the utter futility of waging a war and causing enormous bloodshed simply for
the sake of some trivial gains. He also met the famous bandit Angulimala alone and
converted him and his followers to Dhamma.
Admission of women
The Buddha was initially reluctant to admit women into the Order as he felt that
their admission would greatly reduce the influence of His creed over a period of
time. Thrice he refused to admit his step mother Gautami into the order, even against
the personal requests and recommendations of his personal attendant Ananda.
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Suggested Further Reading