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The founder of the Buddha religion on whose teachings Buddhism was founded was known as Siddhartha Gautama Shakyamuni. Shakya is the name of the family he was born into. Muni on the other hand, means the Able One. Buddha Shakyamuni is believed to have been born as a royal prince in 624BC at a place known as Lumbini, currently called Nepal. The mother was Queen Mayadevi or Mahamaya, and the father was King Shuddhodana. There is an interesting story told by the Queen about his conception. According to her, on the night of Buddha’s conception, she dreamt that a white elephant with six tasks descended from heaven and entered her womb through the right side. The dream had lots of significance to her as the whiteness of the elephant indicated the child she would bear would be pure.
The Queen is said to have conceived the baby without intercourse. After conception, she went to her father’s kingdom as was tradition. During the birth of the child, the Queen never experienced labor pains as is the norm with child-bearing women. This took place on the way at Lumbini in a garden beneath the Sal tree. Just before giving birth, the Queen had a pure vision in which she held a branch of a tree with the right hand while Brahma and Indra; who are gods, took the child painlessly away from the her side. The child was honored by being offered for rituals of ablutions.
The King was delighted as well. He felt his wishes had been fulfilled thus named the young prince Siddhartha. A Brahmin seer was invited to make predictions about the Prince’s future. After a careful examination using his clairvoyance, the seer said there were chances of the prince being a chakravatin king, a respected ruler of the entire world or an enlightened Buddha. By the time of the prediction, the chakravatin kingship was past and therefore the prince had to become a Buddha. It was predicted his influence in the entire world would be enormous, with numerous faithful followers. From his achievements, it could be said the third prediction was true.
Records show that Siddhartha Gautama was born into the Shakya clan. The day of his birth is celebrated widely in Theravada countries as Vesak. The anniversary holiday is known as ‘Buddha Poornima’ since it is believed he was born during a full moon. Some sources claim the mother died on the material day of his birth or a few days later. When the celebrations for the birth were underway, predictions about his future were made by other eight scholars other than Asita who had earlier on said the boy would be a respected man. He was brought up by an aunt who was the sister of the queen. He had three palaces built for him to take up his role as a prince. His father is said to have done this to shield him from the suffering of mankind by surrounding him with pomp and luxury.
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