burma-1.jpg (3086 bytes) A R T  A N D   C U L T U R E  ··  B U D D H A ' S  L I F E  S T O R Y

  R  E  S  O  U   R  C  E  S

Grateful thanks to the Buddhist Information Centre - Sri Lanka - who originally produced this material

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BIRTH | PALACE LIFE | FOUR SIGHTS | GOING FORTH | ASCETICISM | ENLIGHTENMENT | 1ST DISCOURSE | DISCIPLES
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CHANGE | DUKKHA | ANATTA | QUESTIONING | EQUALITY | WOMEN | SLAVERY | CARING
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WISDOM | COMPASSION | THIS WORLD | NALANDA | JUSTICE | MEDIATION | DEATH

Here is the life story of the Buddha in pictures. The picture set has been divided into three pages which each page giving thumbnail links to an enlargement.
The text is relatively brief but is useful in that it contains just the key facts of the traditional story. A more detailed description can be found at CHICAGO.
There was a very high quality set of slides produced of these images but I have failed to locate either the Buddhist Information Centre or anyone who knows where a set may be obtained. I would be pleased to know of a contact address.


Birth

The Birth of the Bodhisatta. On a full-moon day in the month of May (Visakha) 2600 years ago was born a Prince named Siddhattha. His birth took place at Lumbini (modern Rumindei in Nepal), where his mother Mahamaya, the chief queen consort of King Suddhodana of Kapilavatthu, rested with her royal retinue, on her way to her parental home in Devadaha. In the picture Queen Mahamaya stands under a flowering sal tree holding on to one of its branches.


Palace life
Life as a Prince. Manifold was the variety of all the sensuous delights within the palace, the music and song that filled the palace halls by night and day; the beauty and grace of its dancing girls; the fragrance of subtle perfumes; the finest silks and priceless gems for jewelry and adornment; and rare delicacies and foods for the royal table. And yet, day after day, seated amidst all this luxury the Prince remains unmoved. Ever in thoughtful mood, with a faraway look in his beautiful eyes he muses on the fleeting nature of life's so called pleasures and its doubtful delights.

Four sights
The realities of life. All King Suddhodana's efforts to protect his son from the four sights of old-age, disease, death and a recluse are of no avail. On a certain occasion, on his way to the royal pleasure gardens the Prince is confronted by each one of these very sights, and is filed with doubts and deep misgiving. Soon after this he meets a wandering ascetic. Impressed by the somber garb and quiet demeanour of the homeless recluse the Prince looks long and hard at him, and then, makes up his mind to leave the palace for a life of homelessness.

Going Forth
The Great going forth. On the day of the Asalha full-moon (July) the Crown Prince receives the news brought from the palace, of the birth of a son to his wife, the beautiful Princess Yasodhara. Alarmed at this fresh development, this new fetter to bind him closer to the world, the Prince decides to leave the palace that very night. For the sake of his father, his queen, his son, for the sake of all mankind, he would leave the world to seek a way to save the world from all suffering. This is the Great Renunciation.

Asceticism
Experiment with Asceticism. For six long years the ascetic Gotama, as Prince Siddhattha was now known, wanders along the highways and byways of India. He goes to Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta two of its greatest religious teachers, who teach him everything from their store of knowledge and wisdom. But the ascetic Gotama is not satisfied, for their teachings do not lead to the cessation of suffering. With unrelenting energy he undergoes rigorous ascetic discipline, both bodily and mental, seeking a way to the cessation of suffering through further suffering. In the end he becomes lean and emaciated and a mere skeleton.

Enlightenment

Discarding both extremes of luxurious living and self mortification, the Bodhisatta Prince chooses the Middle Path of moderation based on the practice of virtue (sila), concentration of the mind (samadhi), and the intensive analysis of all psyche-physical phenomena that finally leads to full understanding of things as they really are (paņņa). Seated under the Bodhi tree at Buddhagaya He attains Samma Sambodhi and becomes the Supreme Buddha.


The 1st Discourse.
Having realised the Four Noble Truths--- the Noble Truth of Suffering; the Cause of Suffering; the Cessation of Suffering; and the Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering-by himself, the Buddha now decides to teach them to the five ascetics who had earlier served him at Uruvela, in Buddhagaya. At the end of this First Discourse, which is known as the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta" and given to the five ascetics who were now living at Isipatana in Benares, the oldest of them, Kondaņņa realises the first path and fruition of the Stream-winner (Sotapanna), or one who goes against the stream of Samsara (the recurring cycle of life and death).

Disciples
Go now and wander for the welfare of the many. The Buddha stays on at Isipatana for the rainy season. However, before that, within the first week of His giving of the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, all five ascetics reach the highest fruition of Sainthood and thus become the first five Arahant disciples of the Buddha. Before the rainy season is over fifty five others have followed suit. The Buddha now exhorts His sixty disciples:- 'Go forth ye bhikkhus, for the welfare of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, welfare and happiness of gods and men'. Accordingly the disciples set forth to spread the new teaching.