|Biography of the Buddha for Children
1. The Birth Place
2. The Birth of a Prince
3. Prediction of Asita
4. Death of the Queen
5. Agonies of the Prince
7. Four signs
8. The birth of Rahula
9. A Feast
11. Make an absolute Vow
12. Going forth
13. Mendicant Gautama
14. Practicing Austerities
15. King Bimbisara
17. Sujata Offering
18. Mara's Temptations
20. The First Dharma Talk
21. The teaching
22. The Buddha's disciples
24. Dharma talk about fire
25. The Earliest monastery
26. Visit to hometown
27. The first Woman's Renunciation
28. Revolt of Devadatta
29. Death of beloved disciples
31. Last Meal
32. Last Disciple
33. Last Sermon and Parinirvana
1 The Birth Place
There used to be a small kingdom called Kapilavastu at the foot of the Himalaya Mountains in northern India, about 2600 years ago (B.C.624). The Sakya clan, who had the family name ‘Gautama’, lived there peacefully as farmers. King Suddhodana and Queen Maya ruled the kingdom of Kapilavastu and they were respected for their wisdom and generosity. But they were worried because they had no child to succeed to the crown, even after twenty years.
2 The Birth of a Prince
One night Queen Maya had a mysterious dream. A huge and shining white elephant entered into her side. After the dream, Queen Maya became pregnant, and her wish to have a baby came true. On her way to her parents’ home for the birth, she stopped to rest in the beautiful Lumbini Park. There were many flowers in full bloom. The moment she reached out her right hand to touch a beautiful flower, she felt a serious pain and then a prince was born. The prince walked seven steps in the four directions: east, south, west and north.And he pointed toward the sky with his right hand, and toward the ground with his left hand. After that the prince cried out “of all creatures in the universe, only humans can be Enlightened.” It signified humans’ value. The day was the eighth day of April by the lunar calendar. Flower petals fell from the sky and a lotus grew at his every step. King Suddhodana named him ‘Siddhartha’ which means ‘A prince fulfilled all wishes.’
3 Prediction of Asita
At that time, there lived a sage named Asita in the Himalaya Mountains. He heard the news that the prince was born and visited the kingdom of Kapilavastu. After looking at the prince, he tearfully predicted, “The prince will leave home and become a Buddha to save all the people from suffering in the world.” The king asked him why he was crying. “It’s because I’m too old to listen to Buddha’s teaching in the future.” The king was pleased with these words at first, but he started to worry because he wanted the prince to grow up and be the leader of Kapilavastu.
4 Death of the Queen
Seven days after Queen Maya had given birth to the healthy baby boy, she died. King Suddhodana felt sorrow, even while holding the prince in his arms. According to Indian custom, her younger sister Mahapajapati became the Queen and cared for Siddhartha with all her heart. Prince Siddhartha grew up to become a healthy boy.
5 Agonies of the Prince
When Siddhartha was a young boy, he was very bright and imaginative. When he was twelve years old, one spring day he went into the field with his father to watch a farmer working. Siddhartha noticed a bird that came down from the sky and quickly carried off the worms turned up by the plowing. He was very shocked at this sight. “Why do living creatures harm each other?” he thought.
When Siddharta was nineteen, King Suddhodana arranged the marriage of the prince to the princess Yasodhara. She was very wise as well as beautiful. The King built the prince and princess a luxury palace. However, Siddhartha did nothing but contemplate. When he thought of the bird he had seen eating worms, he thought, “Humans are also born and will die some day. Is there no way to be free from death?”
7 Four signs
Siddhartha was kept inside the palace, so one day he asked the King to let him go outside the palace wall. Siddhartha saw a wrinkled, bent old man outside the east gate. And he saw a man suffering from disease outside the south gate, and a dead man carried on a stretcher outside the west gate. Outside the north gate, he encountered a monk. He wore a ragged robe, but he looked very peaceful. “You look content. How can you be so tranquil” asked the prince.“Everyone is born, gets sick, ages and dies. I just practice to escape this kind of suffering.” answered the monk. Siddhartha felt inspired by the monk and decided to leave his family.
8 The birth of Rahula
At the same time, princess Yasodhara gave birth to a good-looking boy. Siddhartha heard of the birth of his son and sighed “Alas! Rahula is born”. Rahula means ‘obstacle’ or ‘fetter’. Siddharta wanted to become a monk as soon as possible. But he was afraid that the baby would interfere with his plan. The king and the princess were very disappointed with Siddharta’s desire to become a monk.
9 A Feast
After Rahula's birth, king Suddhodana was worried whenever he saw Siddhartha contemplating. So the king ordered “I’m going to have a party for Prince Siddhartha. Invite the best musicians and dancers and prepare the table.” That day, the palace was full of music and dancers’ laughter. But Siddhartha didn’t enjoy himself, watching the dancing girls. Instead he went on thinking of the way to free humans from aging, sickness and death.
After finishing the big celebration, everyone had fallen asleep deeply. But Prince Siddhartha could not sleep, so he headed for the garden, where he found that the fatigued dancing girls had fallen asleep here and there. The prince was very surprised to see how the girls’ beauty could be transformed into terrible ugliness in one night. It was, indeed, the most upsetting thing that had ever happened to the prince. “I can not hesitate any more, I must leave the palace to search for real happiness and ultimately become free from birth and death!”
11 Make an absolute Vow
While everyone in the palace slept, Siddhartha went into the room where Yasodhara and newborn boy Rahula slept. He was filled with loving kindness towards them and promised himself that he would come back to see them after he found the ultimate truth, vowing “I will never come back to this palace until I resolve the problems of birth and death.”
12 Going forth
Prince Siddhartha awakened his charioteer Chandaka, to leave the palace while everyone was still asleep. “Chandaka... get up... it’s me ..., quickly!” “What... Prince, at this time!” “Be quiet, please, and get my horse ready!? I’ll leave the palace tonight.” Chandaka got the horse, the snow-white Kanthaka. Prince Siddhartha left the palace without waking anyone. In the silence of the night, there were only shining stars in the sky.
13 Mendicant Gautama
Riding his horse, they crossed the border of Kapilavastu by dawn. Arriving at a river, Prince Siddhartha dismounted, washed his face, then shaved his long hair. He took off the precious crown and handed it to Chandaka, resolutely ordering him to take it and Kanthaka back to Kapilavastu. Prince Siddhartha met a hunter who was going through the forest. He gave his expensive clothes to the hunter and put on the hunter’s shabby clothes. So at the age of 29, Siddhartha began the homeless life of a mendicant.
14 Practicing Austerities
As a mendicant, he sat in the lotus position under a big tree for several days. But it was not easy to attain enlightenment even if a lot of time had passed. Therefore he went to visit hermits to learn their methods of attainment, but after practicing with them for a time he became convinced that they would not lead him to Enlightenment. So he decided to give up finding a teacher. “ No one, no place, nobody can teach and lead me to Enlightenment, nothing except myself.... From now on, I have to develop by myself and attain Enlightenment!”
15 King Bimbisara
Looking for a good place to practice, Gautama went up the mountain of Rajagraha, in the capital of Magadha. The king of this country was named Bimbisara. On seeing Gautama, the king realized he was the prince of Kapilavastu, the successor to the throne, who had given up everything and become a mendicant in search of the means to liberate all beings from suffering by old age, sickness and death. “ I recognized you immediately, you were the prince of Kapilavastu. You left your country and you are already here. How about helping me in this country and enjoying a comfortable life with me?” But Gautama graciously refused the king’s suggestion, and he continued meditating. After seeing Gautama’s concentrated practicing, King Bimbisara said, “Ho ho, you absolutely will attain the perfect Enlightenment. At that time, could you teach me of your Enlightenment?.” Gautama nodded his agreement to the king’s request.
In the beginning, Gautama practiced alone, but soon he had companions. He stayed in the forest of Uruvilla with five mendicants. Gautama practiced a wide variety of special forms of asceticism and then began to gradually reduce his food until finally he arrived at the point where he was eating nothing at all. One month, two months... time passed. He became so thin that his whole bony frame was clearly visible, yet this hard practice did not discourage him one bit. And he still could not attain Enlightenment.
17 Sujata Offering
One day, while meditating alone, Gautama fainted and fell down because of exhaustion. A girl named Sujata fed him some delicious rice porridge. Soon he regained consciousness and began to feel better. He realized that without the girl’s help he would have died before attaining enlightenment.? From then on, Gautama began eating normally. Soon his health was completely restored. It was clear to him now that asceticism was not the way to enlightenment. Having sat down under a bodhi tree, Gautama made a vow to himself: “Even if my blood dries up and my muscles shrink leaving only skin and bones, I’ll not leave this seat until I finally and absolutely achieve the goal of finding, for myself and all beings, a way of deliverance from suffering of the turning round of life and death.”
18 Mara's Temptations
While Siddhartha sat under the large bodhi tree, the Mara-Papimant, a demon, tried every thing he could to distract him. He even sent his three beautiful daughters, enticing Gautama to linger on the pleasures of the past, and arousing his desire to return to the royal palace and enjoy the sensual life of former days.“ How could you resist! Then I’ll surprise you again with thunder and lightning!” The angry Mara-Papimant attacked, to disturb Gautama’s mind with thunder and lightning. But because of his resolute vow, Gautama resisted these temptations with forceful mental effort. Finally he succeeded in completely dispersing all the illusory thoughts that were disturbing him. His mind became calm and tranquil like a pond of still water.
After Gautama had resisted the demon’s temptation, his mind cleared up like a calm lake. At last, seven days after he started meditating, Gautama looked at a rising star, and feeling joy from escaping from all of the suffering that he hadn’t been able to put behind him, he attained Enlightenment. Gautama was 35 years old, and the date was Dec. 8.After that, people called him ‘Sakyamuni’, which means ‘ The Great Saint of the Sakya Clan.’
20 The First Dharma Talk
After the Buddha attained Enlightenment, he didn’t leave his seat for a week, he just enjoyed the feeling of ‘the truth.’ But, he had one worry. “This Truth that I have seen is so deep and difficult. If I try to teach it to the people, what will they be able to understand? What shall I do?” At the time the Buddha was worrying, and hesitated. Deva, a king of Heaven, came down to him, saying “Oh, Buddha, please teach the Truth for all beings.” Deva asked this to The Buddha three times, very sincerely. The Buddha decided to spread the truth for the people. The Buddha went to ‘Magadha’ to teach the five practitioners, the companions who had practiced with him, and he taught the Dharma for the first time.
21 The teachings
The Buddha taught the five practitioners as follows:“ The practitioners have to go the right way, which is not one-sided toward suffering or pleasure.” The Buddha also taught ‘The Four Noble Truths’, and ‘The Eight Fold Path’, which is the way to a ‘calm mind’, free from all suffering. The five practitioners were very delighted with The Buddha’s teaching, so they decided to become his disciples. These five practitioners were the first bhikkhus, who trusted and followed the Buddha.
22 The Buddha's disciples
At the time when the five practitioners learned about the teaching, one rich young man in Varanasi had fallen victim to suffering terribly due to the many worries of life. But the Buddha’s teaching enabled him to solve his problems and finally he became a bhikkhu. When he had become a bhikkhu, his parents and wife became ‘the first lay Buddhists’, and his 54 friends embraced Buddhism and then became arahants.
When the number of the disciples who had attained Enlightenment reached 60, the Buddha said the following: “Oh, bhikkhus! Go and spread this teaching to many places for the happiness and the comfort of all beings in the world. Don’t go together with two persons in the same village. Teach the dharma, which is excellent in the beginning, excellent in the middle, and excellent in the end. Live the ever-clean life. If a person who has a truly clean mind hears the teaching, he must attain enlightenment.”
24 Dharma talk about fire
After the Buddha sent his disciples all over the country; he decided to return to Magadha. On the way, he stayed at a house one night in the village of Uruvilla, whose people worshipped Fire. There were three brothers there, named Kasyapa. They tested the Buddha’s capabilities. “Let’s prepare a bed at the ancestral shrine, where a poisonous snake lives. Even the Buddha can’t get away from a poisonous snake.” The next day, the Kasyapa brothers expectantly opened the door of the shrine. And yet, what was going on? The Buddha sat safely, with his legs crossed. After that, the Kasyapa brothers embraced Buddhism with a thousand of their disciples. The Buddha said thus: “Our mind is burning with greed, anger and foolishness. It is wrong to worship fire outside of ourselves without seeing the fire in the mind. To live free from all suffering, we first of all have to extinguish the fire of greed, anger, and foolishness.”
25 THe Earliest monastery
Upon arriving at Rajagraha, The Buddha preached in various ways to allow king Bimbisara and his people to understand his teachings, to fulfill the promise he made when he began the mendicant life. King Bimbisara gave the Buddha Venuvana, a park in a bamboo grove, where they could build a residence for the bhikkus. One rich person, who had decided to take refuge in the Buddha after seeing his practice, then offered to build a small monastery to keep them out of the rain. Hence Venuvana became the earliest monastery in the history of Buddhism.
26 Visit to hometown
On hearing that his father was eager to see his enlightened son, the Buddha went to Kapilavastu with his disciples. They stayed outside the city and went begging for food. The Buddha preached for his father, his relatives and all the people in the country. His stepbrother Nanda was converted along with his cousins Ananda and Devadatta. Prince Rahula, his seven-year-old son, became the first sramana under the guidance of Sariputta. The Buddha demonstrated his message of equality by accepting as his disciple Upali, who was a barber and in the lowest class.
27 The First Woman's Renunciation
Many years after his second visit to his hometown the Buddha rushed back again on hearing that his father was seriously ill. He taught his father about death. King Suddhodana passed away in peace. The widowed Mahapajapati wanted to renounce her old life and join the Sangha but was refused three times. Eventually she got permission with the aid of Ananda’s pleading to the Buddha and she became the first Bhikkuni.
28 Revolt of Devadatta
Devadatta requested that the Buddha resign and appoint him as the head of the Sangha, but the Buddha refused. Devadatta was very disappointed and planned to kill the Buddha. While the Buddha was on his way to a mountain called Vulture Peak, Devadatta pushed a huge stone down the hillside.? But the rock suddenly broke into small pieces. His second attempt was to set loose a wild elephant.? It rushed at the Buddha, but then it knelt down and became calm.
29 Death of beloved disciples
The Buddha worked hard teaching and spreading the Dharma, for 45 years. He was now 80 years old. His body was getting weaker and he felt tired. The news that Sariputta and Mogallana passed away made him very sad and hurt.? He told the disciples “Everything’s impermanent.? Rely upon yourself: do not depend upon anyone else. Make my teachings your light. Do not depend upon any other teaching.”
The Buddha stayed in Belluva in Vaisali during a rainy season. He fell ill due to the severely hot weather. He predicted “ Listen well, Ananda, I will enter Nirvana in three months.” Hearing this Ananda was shocked and filled with sorrow.
31 Last Meal
When the Buddha reached Pava he was ill from some food offered by Chunda, a blacksmith. In spite of the great pain he continued his journey. He asked Ananda to prepare a place for him to lie down in Kusinagara. Ananda made a bed between two big sala trees. The Buddha told Ananda “I will attain Parinirvana tonight.”
32 Last disciple
At that time, there was a wandering ascetic named Subhadda. He heard that the Buddha was in town and was soon to attain Parinirvana. He visited the Buddha to clear his doubts. On hearing the Buddha’s Dharma, he attained enlightenment. Thus Subhadda became the last disciple to be directly ordained by the Buddha.
33 Last Sermon and Parinirvana
Finally the Buddha said to the disciples; "You should respect each other, follow my teachings and refrain from disputes. Strive on with mindfulness and share the bliss of truth. Depend on my teachings and attain enlightenment through diligence." Then he entered samadhi. It was on a full moon day in February by the lunar calendar that the greatest teacher of all time passed away. His teachings are a guiding light to the world like a torch in the dark.