Who was Sakyamuni Buddha?

Sakyamuni Buddha, or as some people call him Shakyamuni, Shakuson and the like, was a real, historical, Buddha who lived on this Earth planet over 2500 years ago in India.

He was born as Prince Siddhārtha Gautama to a royal family under King Suddhodana and Queen Mayadevi.

The prince was destined for a life of luxury, and lived under the shield of his royal kingdom to no end. However, deep down, something troubled the prince as he rode on his horse one day. He saw a bird eating a worm and thereafter, another bigger bird swooping down to tear that bird apart. On other days the young prince also witnessed injured people, old people suffering and even people who have passed away. This made the young prince deeply worried and so he realized he too would eventually suffer the same fate as those he saw on the street.

Eventually, the prince married a woman named Yashodara which was arranged by his father. He also had a son named Rahula. Despite all the money, wealth, fame and stability he enjoyed as a prince, he was still not satisfied and felt deep down that gaining money, wealth and fame was not the purpose of life.

One night, the prince left the kingdom never to return again and began his search for enlightenment. His ascetic practices included depriving himself of nearly all worldly goods and concentrating on meditation day in and day out. Rather unsuccessful at his initial attempts at gaining enlightenment, the prince decided to take a short break away from his practices and cross the river. It was there that he met a young lady who supplied him with a little food.

Afterwards, he came upon a Bodhi Tree and declared that he would not leave until he achieved enlightenment. It was here that on the 8th day of December, at 35 years old, that the prince finally attained true enlightenment of the highest level. The 52nd level, or in other words, Buddhist enlightenment. Sakyamuni Buddha is the only one on this Earth to have attained the highest level (Buddha) of enlightenment and the teachings he taught from then until the end of his 80 years of life would be called Buddhism.

His teachings were compiled in a massive volume of over 7000 sutras and spread from India to China where they were translated into Chinese, which they then spread to Japan and the rest of the world. It is interesting that although Buddhism originated in India, Buddhism is not a prominent religion there today.

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