Summary of the Life of the Buddha

Summary of the Life of the Buddha

Ashvaghosha
Buddha’s Life
A poem in 28 songs, from the Sanskrit original of which only the first thirteen and a half have survived, and the rest have come in Tibetan and Chinese transpositions
King Shuddhodana of the Shakya family who lives in the city of Kapilavastu in the foothills of the Himalayas, the son of Siddhartha is born. His birth is extraordinary: in order not to cause the pain of his mother Maya, he appears from her right side, and his body is decorated with happy signs, according to which the wise men predict that he will become the savior of the world and the founder of the new law of life and death. Serenity, in nothing not overshadowed by well-being, the childhood and youth of Siddhartha flow in the royal palace. At the right time, he marries the

beautiful Yashodhara, from whom he has his beloved son Rahulu. But one day Siddhartha leaves the palace in a chariot and meets first a decrepit old man, then swollen from a dropsy sick and, finally, a dead man, who is carried to the cemetery. The spectacle of death and suffering overturns the worldview of the prince. Surrounding his beauty seems to him disgraceful, power, strength, wealth are represented by decay. He thinks about the meaning of life, and the search for the ultimate truth of existence becomes his only goal. Siddhartha leaves Kapilavastu and goes on a long journey. He meets with the brahmanas, who expound their faith and teachings; He spends six years in the forest with ascetics, exhausting himself with asceticism; the king of Magadha Bimbisar offers him his kingdom so that he can realize the ideal of justice on earth – but neither the traditional wisdom, nor the mortification of the flesh, nor the boundless power seem to him capable of solving the riddle of the meaninglessness of life. In the vicinity of the city of Gaia under the Bodhi tree, Siddhartha is immersed in deep thought. Demon-tempter Mara unsuccessfully tries to embarrass him with carnal temptations, the army of Mary throws stones, spears, darts, arrows into it, but Siddhartha does not even notice them, remaining motionless and impassive in her contemplation.
And here, under the Bodhi tree, enlightenment descends upon him: from a Bodhisattva, a person who is destined to be a Buddha, he becomes such – the Buddha, or the Awakened, the Enlightened One.
The Buddha goes to Benares and there pronounces his first sermon, in which he teaches that there is suffering, is the cause of suffering-life is the way to stop suffering-renunciation of desire, deliverance from desires and passions, liberation from worldly bonds-the path of detachment and spiritual equilibrium. Traveling through the cities and villages of India, the Buddha repeats this doctrine again and again, attracting many disciples, uniting thousands of people in his community. The enemy of the Buddha Devadatta tries to destroy him: he throws a huge stone on him from the mountain, but he splits and does not touch his body; he sets on him a wild furious elephant, but he humbly and faithfully falls at the feet of the Buddha. The Buddha ascends to heaven and turns to his faith even the gods, and then, completing his mission, sets the limit of his life – three months. He comes to the city of Kushinagar in the extreme north of India, pronounces his last instruction there and, forever interrupting for himself the endless chain of births and deaths, plunges into nirvana – a state of complete rest, incorporeal contemplative being. Bones of the Buddha, left after the funeral pyre, his students are divided into eight parts. Seven is carried away by the kings who came from the far reaches of the earth, and the eighth in a gold jar is always kept in Kushinagara in the temple erected in honor of the Buddha.


Summary of the Life of the Buddha