Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, lived over 2500 years ago and
is known as Siddhartha Gotama.n3
His father, Suddhodana, the kshatriya n4
king, ruled over the land of the Sâkyans at Kapilavatthu
on the Nepalese frontier. As he came from the Gotama family,
he was known as Suddhodana Gotama. Mahâmâyâ,
princess of the Koliyas, was Suddhodana’s queen.
623 B.C. on a full-moon day of May,Vasanta-tide, when in India
the trees were laden with leaf, flower, and fruit, and man,
bird, and beast were in joyous mood, Queen Mahâmâyâ
was travelling in state from Kapilavatthu to Devadaha, her parental
home, according to the custom of the times, to give birth to
her child. But that was not to be, for halfway between the two
cities, in the beautiful Lumbini Grove, under the shade of a
flowering Sal tree, she brought forth a son.
or Rummindei, the name by which it is now known, is one hundred
miles north of Vârânasi and within sight of the
snowcapped Himalayas. At this memorable spot where Prince Siddhartha,
the future Buddha, was born, Emperor Asoka, 316 years after
the event, erected a mighty stone pillar to mark the holy spot.
The inscription engraved on the pillar in five lines consists
of ninety-three Asokan characters, among which occurs the following:
"hida budhe jâte sâkyamuni.
Here was born the Buddha, the sage of the Sâkyans."
mighty column is still to be seen. The pillar, as crisp as the
day it was cut, had been struck by lightning even when Hiuen
Tsiang, the Chinese pilgrim, saw it towards the middle of the
seventh century A.C. The discovery and identification of Lumbini
Park in 1896 is attributed to the renowned archaeologist, General
the fifth day after the birth of the prince, the king summoned
eight wise men to choose a name for the child and to speak of
the royal babe’s future. He was named Siddhârtha, which
means one whose purpose has been achieved. The brahmins deliberated
and seven of them held up two fingers each and declared: "O
King, this prince will become a cakravarti, a universal
monarch, should he deign to rule, but should he renounce the
world, he will become a sammâ-sambuddha, a Supremely
Enlightened One, and deliver humanity from ignorance."
But Kondañña, the wisest and the youngest, after
watching the prince, held up only one finger and said: "O
King, this prince will one day go in search of truth and become
a Supremely Enlightened Buddha."
Mahâmâyâ, the mother, passed away on the seventh
day after the birth of her child, and the babe was nursed by
his mother’s sister, Pajâpati Gotami. Though the child
was nurtured till manhood in refinement amid an abundance of
material luxury, the father did not fail to give his son the
education that a prince ought to receive. He became skilled
in many branches of knowledge, and in the arts of war easily
excelled all others. Nevertheless, from his childhood the prince
was given to serious contemplation.