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Gautam Buddha

600BC Bharatvarsha

The caste system, rituals and animal sacrifice in Hinduism was going from bad to worse. Gautam Buddha established a new religion, which had no sects, classes or castes, that teaches the principle "Live and let live". It was Gautam Buddha, who taught Hindus of non-violence and eating vegetarian food.

Hindus honored Gautam Buddha and bestowed on him the title of 9th incarnation of Vishnu. About 600 years later, Jesus Christ too established a new religion. One must pause here and bow to those ancestors of ours! They were broad minded enough to learn and appreciate Gautam Buddha. Today, the whole world has a lot to learn from them.

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Life

King Suddhodana and his queen Maha Maya ruled Kapilavastu. The queen gave birth to a baby boy on the way to her father’s place at Lumbini. The boy was named Siddharth. Queen Maha Maya died seven days after his birth. His maternal aunt (or step-mother?), Maha Prajapati Gautami brought up the child.

Siddharth lived a lavish life, not knowing poverty, sadness, illness or death. At sixteen, he married Princess Yasodhara. He led a happy married life. He had a son named Rahul.

One glorious day, the prince went out of the palace to a park where he saw a feeble old man, a diseased person, a dead body and a dignified hermit. These four great sights drove him to loathe the world. A disturbed, twenty-nine year old Siddharth renounced his child, wife, family, palace and kingdom.

For the next six years, he practiced all forms of austerity. His body was reduced to almost skeleton and on the verge of death. Then, he realized that physical fitness was essential for the spiritual progress. So he started taking some food and regained his lost strength. One day while meditating under a bodhi tree, he achieved Nirvana.

At Saranath, he preached the four noble truths and the eightfold path of Buddhism. He preached for the next forty-five years.

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Teachings

4 Noble truths:
   * Suffering exists
   * Suffering arises from attachment to desires
   * Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases
   * Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path

Eightfold path:
   * Right View.
   * Right Thought.
   * Right Speech.
   * Right Conduct.
   * Right Livelihood.
   * Right Effort.
   * Right Mindfulness.
   * Right Concentration.

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