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Teachings of Siddhartha Gautam

Updated on September 5, 2014

What Did Siddhartha Gautam Teach?

Siddhartha Gautam's compliled teachings run into volumes. The three pitaks or tripitakas (translated three boxes) are the compilations of his teachings. Most of his teachings were collected during his life time while many more were complied after his death. His teachings run in form of conversations or in form of his actions. In other words, he is not shown to be a teacher who liked to impose his faith from above. Gautam Buddha, another name of Siddhartha Gautam believed in democracy and freedom. He inspired several large and powerful dynasties into experimenting with democratic governance and also inspired the approach to governance known as the welfare state, while the King was expected to act as a benevolent ruler. The Vajji republic was the first state in the world to experiment with democratic election that was inspired by his ideas.

Siddhartha Gautam

Gautam Buddha Statue at  statue at Namobuddha, Nepal.
Gautam Buddha Statue at statue at Namobuddha, Nepal. | Source

Some Events From Buddha's Life

Siddhartha Gautam, like Christ shows and speaks truth through his actions rather than lectures. Here are three stories:

(i) Once Siddhartha was going through a forest believed to be infested with dangerous criminals. One of them was known as Angulimala (garland of fingers) because he wore the garland of fingers that he slashed out of his victims' hands. Siddhartha was fearless. While going through the forest, the brigand shouted loudly, "Stop!". Siddhartha responded politely, "I have, but when will you?" The criminal remained unmoved. He said, "I will kill you". Siddhartha responded, "why are you doing sinful acts?" The rogue responded, "to look after my family". "OK, very well said, then tell me, your wife and children are also sinning, just like you. They will also reap the consequences of your sinful actions." Siddhartha asked. "Yes, of course", the criminal replied. "But are you sure?" Siddhartha asked. "Yes, very much" the criminal responded. "OK, go ask them. I will wait for you here" Siddhartha requested. The ruffian tied Siddhartha to a tree and went to consult his wife and children. As expected, Angulimal returned a reformed person and turned into Siddhartha's disciple.

Here is another story: Once Siddhartha was in a village. An old woman's only son had died. She was deeply disturbed. Crying and wailing, she came to Siddhartha with her plea. She said that only Siddhartha, the enlightened master could bring her dead son back to her. Siddhartha reassured her that he would do whatever was possible but put a condition before her. Siddhartha asked the old woman to bring him a handful of rice from a household where no one had ever died. The aggrieved old woman bereft of her senses rushed to fulfil the condition. she went to each and every home in the village asking if anyone ever died there. She came back by the evening sobered and mature.

Bodh Gaya

Bodh gaya:
Bodhgaya, Bihar, India

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Buddha attained enlightenment at Bodh Gaya while meditating under a bo tree

Buddhist Pagoda

Global Vipassana Pagoda, Mumbai
Global Vipassana Pagoda, Mumbai | Source

Buddha Didn't Encourage Miracles

Although Buddha had attained enlightenment, he did not encourage miracles. He said wasting time to attain miraculous powers through penance is futile. It does not take us closer to our goals. Once Siddhartha Gautam encountered a yogi who had developed advanced powers through the practice of yoga. He could walk over water to cross a river. Showing his attainment to Siddhartha, he challenged him to perform a similar feat. Siddartha asked him, "How long did it take you to learn this miraculous feat? "Forty years", replied the yogi. "You have wasted forty years of your precious life", Siddhartha remarked, "for what is worth a penny. A boat man will ferry me across the river for a penny".

Evidently then, Buddha didn't encourage miracles. He was more concerned with practical life and the ways to make the practical life useful and productive.

Buddha's Legacy

Buddha's legacy to the world is inestimable. He gave the world a practical philosophy of life. He did not encourage needless spiritualism and metaphysics. He used to say, "if a person is inflicted with a piercing arrow, he doesn't ask, where the arrow came from? Who shot it? Why? All he wants is immediate freedom from pain". Such is the condition of man, according to Siddhartha gautam. The teaching of Siddhartha Gautam has been explained in the following four lines: (i) There is suffering in the world (ii) The suffering has a cause (iii) The cause is desire (iv) suffering can be eliminated, if desire is removed.

Siddhartha Smiles

Additional Thoughts

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Do You Think Buddha is Relevant Today?

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    • pramodgokhale profile image


      4 years ago from Pune( India)

      I am Indian and Hindu by religion , In Hinduism Buddha is 8 th Avatar and earlier prince Siddhartha who later known as Gautam Buddha .

      He saw poverty, downtrodden, injustice and inequality within society. he decided to develop society without inequality and justice for all.

      Buddhism spread in east Asian and in China, Thailand, Japan.



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