Siddhartha Gautama and His Religious Development Essay example

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Siddhartha Gautama and His Religious Development

Siddhartha Gautama, who became the Buddha or 'the enlightened one' was born about 560 BC and died at the age of eighty. He was the founder of the Buddhist religion. Siddhartha lived in north-eastern India, an area which followed the Hindu religious tradition, which was, in those days a great variety of Indian traditions and practices.

Indian society was then divided up by the Hindu caste system. The highest caste were the Brahmins or priests, with the next caste down being the Kshatriyas, who were rulers or soldiers.

Siddhartha was born in a place called Lumbini, into the Shakya clan. He was a prince, and was therefore in the Kshatriyas caste.
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He then tried living in the forest with Sadhus who tried to become better spiritually by living very simply. He lived this way for six years and nearly starved himself to death, but did not find an answer to suffering.

He was now 35 years old, and had not found an answer to the question of suffering. Siddhartha decided to sit under a tree and meditate until he had an answer. The tree he sat under was a papal tree.

The first thing that happened as he sat under the tree was that a devil figure called Mara tried to frighten him away from his meditation. The story then goes that the Hindu earth goddess Vasundhara appeared and helped him. The devil then left and Siddhartha carried on meditating until he became enlightened, and experienced the peace of Nirvana. He had found a whole new way of seeing and relating to life.

Siddhartha now became called the Buddha, or enlightened one. He decided he had to tell other people how to overcome suffering and find peace. The first people he told were the Sadhus he had lived with in the forest. He taught them the Dharma or teaching. They all became enlightened.

The Buddha then started to travel and spread his ideas. During his lifetime there were two kinds of followers. There were those who joined him in the wandering life, but who gathered together from time to time. They became monks and nuns. There were also those
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