Sunteți pe pagina 1din 20

BBC - iWonder - Life of the Buddha: A spiritual journey http://www.bbc.co.

uk/timelines/zg8c9j6

Home News Sport Weather Shop Earth Travel

In collaboration with
Dr Andrew Skilton
King's College London

Buddhism is largely based on the teachings and philosophy of one man, the Buddha, and his
spiritual journey. But tracing a timeline of events for the historical Buddha can be difficult, as
the dates are controversial.

Scholars are divided between two dates for his birth c563 or c448BC with recent finds suggesting
the first is more likely. Some events are firmly agreed: he left home at 29, he attained awakening at
35, and he died 45 years later.

563BC

1 of 20 7/10/17, 9:18 AM
BBC - iWonder - Life of the Buddha: A spiritual journey http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zg8c9j6

Apic/Getty Images

Buddhist tradition says that Buddha's mother dreamt of an auspicious white elephant.

The Buddhas mother was the wife of a leading figure in a small state known by its
tribal name, kya.

It was a kind of oligarchic republic that was situated on the border of modern day
India and Nepal. According to Buddhist tradition, she dreamt that an auspicious
white elephant entered her womb.

2 of 20 7/10/17, 9:18 AM
BBC - iWonder - Life of the Buddha: A spiritual journey http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zg8c9j6

Metta Sutta (the Buddha's words on loving kindness)

563BC

3 of 20 7/10/17, 9:18 AM
BBC - iWonder - Life of the Buddha: A spiritual journey http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zg8c9j6

The Granger Collection/TopFoto

A Tibetan painting of the birth of the Buddha as he emerges from the side of his mother Queen
Maya.

The Buddha emerged from his mothers side, as she stood leaning against a tree,
in a painless and pure birth.

He took seven steps and lotus flowers sprang up in his footsteps. A wise man
predicted that this child would be either a great secular ruler or a great religious
leader. He was named Siddhrtha (or Sarvrthasiddha), meaning a man who
achieves his goals. His mother died shortly after his birth and he was brought up by
his maternal aunt Mahprajpati.

548BC

4 of 20 7/10/17, 9:18 AM
BBC - iWonder - Life of the Buddha: A spiritual journey http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zg8c9j6

Godong

Detail from the Life of the Buddha paintings at Preah Prom Rath Monastery in Cambodia,
showing Yasodhara with her son Rahula.

Siddhrtha was married at 15 the normal age of consent to a younger bride


called Yaodhar.

She conceived in due course and gave birth to a boy, who was called Rhula.
Siddhrtha is understood to have been a well educated young man, trained in
martial arts and to have enjoyed his privileged life in ancient Kapilavastu, the capital
city.

5 of 20 7/10/17, 9:18 AM
BBC - iWonder - Life of the Buddha: A spiritual journey http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zg8c9j6

Dhammapada (sayings of the Buddha), verse 100

Prior to 534BC

6 of 20 7/10/17, 9:18 AM
BBC - iWonder - Life of the Buddha: A spiritual journey http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zg8c9j6

The Granger Collection/TopFoto

Tenth century Chinese painting on silk of Prince Siddhartha meeting a sick man.

Siddharthas father uddhodana wanted his son to become the political ruler
predicted at his birth.

So he conspired to protect his son from any religious aspirations by giving him a life
of pleasure and privilege, and by preventing him from seeing the harsher sides of
reality. His plan eventually failed. Siddhartha managed to explore his society and
was profoundly disturbed by finding out about old age, sickness and death. He was
also fascinated by the sight of religious people seeking answers to lifes big
questions.

534BC

7 of 20 7/10/17, 9:18 AM
BBC - iWonder - Life of the Buddha: A spiritual journey http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zg8c9j6

World History Archive/TopFoto

Indian depiction of the Buddha's great departure from Kapilavastu, on his horse Kanthaka,
whose hooves are held off the ground by the gods.

Eventually the tensions between cosy and familiar home life and the challenge of
suffering and death became too much.

Siddhartha left home on his own, as tradition has it slipping away in the dead of
night, leaving his family in despair. In a dramatic moment, deep in the wilderness,
he abandoned his horse and cropped his hair. He became a religious wanderer,
and sought out the company of others doing the same. He travelled south into the
neighbouring kingdom of Magadha (modern Bihar) where he was spotted by the
young king Bimbisra as he begged on the streets in the capital city Rjagriha.

8 of 20 7/10/17, 9:18 AM
BBC - iWonder - Life of the Buddha: A spiritual journey http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zg8c9j6

Dhammapada 103

533BC

9 of 20 7/10/17, 9:18 AM
BBC - iWonder - Life of the Buddha: A spiritual journey http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zg8c9j6

Denice Tyler/EyeEm

Siddhrtha is first described as training with a succession of meditation teachers,


including the masters lra Klma and Uddaka Rmaputta.

These people taught him meditation methods by which his mind could be calmed
and enter more and more refined states of 'one-pointed' serenity, in which
awareness of the outside world recedes. Although these experiences are powerful
and satisfying in themselves, they do not last. Once his meditation was finished, he
returned to being as before. Siddhrtha wanted a permanent solution and, despite
being recognised as fully competent by his teachers, left them behind.

Dhammapada 130

10 of 20 7/10/17, 9:18 AM
BBC - iWonder - Life of the Buddha: A spiritual journey http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zg8c9j6

532528BC

De Agostini Picture Library

An image of the ascetic Buddha in the Gandhara (north-west Pakistan) style.

Siddhartha relocated to a spot near this pleasant village in the far west of Magadha,
where he took up a completely different course of action.

Another approach adopted in his day was asceticism the testing of ones physical
body by arduous tasks. These included: exposure to the heat of the sun without
protection; avoiding a single physical posture, such as lying or sitting down; holding
ones breath; or fasting by reducing food intake progressively until surviving on tiny
amounts of food. The idea was that one could wear down the physical influence of
ones being and release the soul, an insubstantial essence in each individual.

11 of 20 7/10/17, 9:18 AM
BBC - iWonder - Life of the Buddha: A spiritual journey http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zg8c9j6

Dhammapada 224

528BC

12 of 20 7/10/17, 9:18 AM
BBC - iWonder - Life of the Buddha: A spiritual journey http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zg8c9j6

Godong

Nepalese painting of Sujata offering milk rice to the Buddha.

Siddhrtha took up this type of practice wholeheartedly and eventually settled with
a group of five others near Varanasi.

He became highly proficient, but after some years of trying a variety of practices,
Siddhrtha collapsed. He decided that all he was doing was risking death without
any solution to the problems of suffering and death. He accepted a small meal of
milk rice from a young woman called Sujt, offered in thanks for having just given
birth to a much desired son.

528BC

13 of 20 7/10/17, 9:18 AM
BBC - iWonder - Life of the Buddha: A spiritual journey http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zg8c9j6

117 Imagery

The Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya is said to mark the spot where the Buddha achieved
enlightenment. It is one of the most sacred sites of Buddhism.

Siddhrthas companions rejected him when he gave up asceticism. As he


recovered strength, he moved near the river Nerajar and settled under a tree.

He sought a way to understand the human situation that would be liberating. He


combined restraint with the withdrawal from the senses he had learnt in meditation.
Remembering a moment of quiet illumination from his childhood, he entered a state
of mind in which he could recall his past lives and understand what kept him and
others tied to the cycle of rebirth. He attained awakening or bodhi. This was the
core experience by which he came to be called buddha, which means awakened.

528BC

14 of 20 7/10/17, 9:18 AM
BBC - iWonder - Life of the Buddha: A spiritual journey http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zg8c9j6

Tim Makins

The 5th Century Dhamekh Stupa at Sarnath which is said to mark the spot in the deer park
where the Buddha gave his first sermon.

The exact time varies according to source, but several weeks after his awakening,
the Buddha decided to communicate his experience to other people.

He was not originally optimistic about this, but was persuaded that someone might
understand. For want of anyone better to speak to, he walked to Srnth, not far
from Varanasi, to find his former ascetic companions. He took some care to explain
his insights to them. The teaching he gave is summarised in a text called the
Dharma-cakra-pravartana Sutra the discourse describing the first turning of the
wheel of the teaching. The five ascetics became his first five disciples.

483BC

15 of 20 7/10/17, 9:18 AM
BBC - iWonder - Life of the Buddha: A spiritual journey http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zg8c9j6

Godong

Nepalese painting of the death of the Buddha.

The Buddha taught continuously in the remaining 45 years of his life. He travelled
around north-east India, teaching in a variety of dialects.

In his 80th year his life ended near a small town called Kuinagara, in Malla (Uttar
Pradesh). Falling ill, possibly from food poisoning, he checked with his monastic
followers whether they had any questions to ask before he died. They had none. He
encouraged them with his final words: Things that arise from causes will also
decay. Press on with due care. Amidst an unseasonal fall of forest flowers, he lay
on his right side, entered a profound meditative state and passed away.

483BC

16 of 20 7/10/17, 9:18 AM
BBC - iWonder - Life of the Buddha: A spiritual journey http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zg8c9j6

Peter Barritt

Detail from the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, Sri Lanka which is said to house the tooth of the
Buddha.

The Buddhas body was carried from its forest grove in through the north gate of
Kuinagara, and from there to a well known funerary monument.

The Buddha had left instructions for his disposal. His body was to be wrapped in
linen and cotton, encased in an iron vessel and burnt on a pyre. The surviving
pieces of burnt bone were divided between representatives from eight states. The
bowl itself was given to Droa, who had divided the relics, and a group of
latecomers were given the ashes from the pyre. Each group built a funerary
monument over their relic, and these became the 10 places where the Buddha
could be worshipped.

17 of 20 7/10/17, 9:18 AM
BBC - iWonder - Life of the Buddha: A spiritual journey http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zg8c9j6

Dhammapada 183

18 of 20 7/10/17, 9:18 AM
BBC - iWonder - Life of the Buddha: A spiritual journey http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zg8c9j6

Presented by
Bettany Hughes Presented by
Bruce Parry

Edith Hope's journey from Scottish


lass to Buddhist nun Why is Buddhism so hip?

19 of 20 7/10/17, 9:18 AM
BBC - iWonder - Life of the Buddha: A spiritual journey http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zg8c9j6

Explore the BBC


Home News

Sport Weather

Shop Earth

Travel Capital

Culture Future

TV Radio

CBBC CBeebies

Food Bitesize

Music Arts

Make It Digital Taster

Nature Local

Terms of Use About the BBC

Privacy Policy Cookies

Accessibility Help Parental Guidance

Contact the BBC Advertise with us

Ad choices

Copyright 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read about our approach to
external linking.

20 of 20 7/10/17, 9:18 AM