aimenathan_Hist111_finalBioPaper

aimenathan_Hist111_finalBioPaper - AMERICAN MILITARY...

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AMERICAN MILITARY UNIVERSITY The Life of Siddhārtha Gautama Nathan Aime Instructor: Brian Todd Carey Department of History and Military Studies World Civilization before 1650, HIST111 March 23, 2011 Where and when was Siddhārtha Gautama born? Were there any persons or events in his early life which you believe helped shape this individual’s legacy? According to the sacred tales, in 563 BCE Siddhārtha Gautama, who was to become “The Buddha,” was born in Lumbini, in southern Nepal. Located at the foot of the Himalayas, it is now one of the world’s holiest places. 1 There are many legends surrounding the birth, life, and death of Siddhartha Gautama that have been passed down through the generations. The stories say that before he was born, his mother, the queen of a small Indian kingdom, had a dream. In it, a beautiful white elephant offered her a lotus flower and then entered the side of her body. When sages were asked to interpret the dream, they predicted the queen would give birth to a son, who 1 Stephen T. Asma, Why I Am a Buddhist (Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Pub., 2010), 5. 2 The Buddha, DVD, directed by David Grubin (2010; New York, NY: David Grubin Productions, 2010). 3 Richard Gombrich, What the Buddha thought (Oakville, CT: Equinox Pub., 2009), 32.
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was destined to become either a great ruler or a holy man. “One day,” they said, “he will either conquer the world or become an enlightened being, the Buddha.” Within 10 months of her dream, as a tree lowered a branch to support her, a baby boy was born, emerging from her side. Seven days later, the queen died. 2 Born into royalty, Siddhartha was the son of a king. As a child, Siddhartha’s father wanted him to be a king, wanted him to conquer the world and become emperor of India, which at that time was fragmented as 16 different kingdoms. It was predicted that he would be able to conquer any land he chose, provided he remained as king. His father created an artificial environment to coddle Siddhartha. The king wanted to prevent Siddhartha from ever noticing the wrongs in the world as he hoped that Siddhartha would stay in the life they knew and loved and not go off, as was predicted at his birth, possibly becoming a spiritual teacher rather than a king. 3 The king kept Siddhartha confined to the palace, spoiling him with treasures and every pleasure his heart could desire, praying he would never find an excuse to leave. Siddhartha spent his youth studying to become a warrior. When he turned 16, Siddhartha was presented with a beautiful bride, Princess Yasodhara, and together they had a son, Rahula— who later became a Buddhist monk. Siddhartha and his family spent 13 years together in the palace of his father, but Siddhartha had grown tired of his lavish lifestyle. He wanted to see the world beyond the paradise his father had created for him. One night, Siddhartha snuck out of the palace while everyone was sleeping. He shaved his head and exchanged his princely garb for the rags of a poor man. This was the beginning of the spiritual journey that would transform him into
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