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The Buddha, His Life
and Teachings
Ven. Piyadassi, Thera
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: www.buddhanet.net
Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc.
The Buddha
His Life and Teaching
Piyadassi Thera
The Wheel Publication No. 5 a /b
Copyright © 1982 Buddhist Publication Society
Buddhist Publication Society
P.O. Box 61
54, Sangharaja Mawatha
Kandy, Sri Lanka
For free distribution only.
You may print copies of this work for your
personal use.
You may re-format and redistribute this
work for use on computers and computer
networks, provided that you
charge no fees for its distribution or use.
Otherwise, all rights reserved.
This edition was transcribed from the print
edition in 1995 by Bradford Griffith under the
auspices of the DharmaNet Dharma Book
Transcription Project, with the kind permission
of the Buddhist Publication Society
Namo tassa bhagavato
arahato sammà
The Buddha
“The ages roll by and the Buddha seems not so far
away after all; his voice whispers in our ears and
tells us not to run away from the struggle but, calmeyed, to face it, and to see in life ever greater opportunities for growth and advancement. Personality
counts today as ever, and a person who has impressed himself on the thought of mankind as the
Buddha has, so that even today there is something
living and vibrant about the thought of him, must
have been a wonderful man—a man who was, as
Barth says, ‘the finished model of calm and sweet
majesty, of infinite tenderness for all that breathes
and compassion for all that suffers, of perfect moral
freedom and exemption from every prejudice.’ ”
“His message old and yet very new and original for
those immersed in metaphysical subtleties, captured
the imagination of the intellectuals; it went deep
down into the hearts of the people.”
Buddhism had its birth at Sarnath near the city
of Vàrànasi (Benares), India. With only five followers at the beginning, it penetrated into many lands,
and is today the religion of more than 600 million.
Buddhism made such rapid strides chief ly due to its
intrinsic worth and its appeal to the reasoning mind.
But there were other factors that aided its progress:
never did the dhammadåtas, the messengers of the
Dhamma, the teaching, use any iniquitous methods
in spreading the Dhamma. The only weapon they
wielded was that of universal love and compassion.
Furthermore, Buddhism penetrated to these
countries peaceably, without disturbing the creeds
that were already there. Buddhist missions, to which
the annals of religious history scarcely afford a parallel, were carried on neither by force of arms nor by
the use of any coercive or reprehensible methods.
Conversion by compulsion was unknown among the
Buddhists, and repugnant to the Buddha and his
disciples. No decrying of other creeds has ever existed in Buddhism. Buddhism was thus able to diffuse
itself through a great variety of cultures throughout
the civilized world.
“There is no record known to me,” wrote T.W.
Rhys Davids, “in the whole of the long history of
Buddhism throughout the many centuries where its
followers have been for such lengthened periods
supreme, of any persecution by the Buddhists of the
followers of any other faith.”
The Birth
The Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, lived over
2,500 years ago and is known as Siddhattha
Gotama. His father, Suddhodana, the kshatriya
king, ruled over the land of the Sàkyans at Kapilavatthu on the Nepalese frontier. As he came from
the Gotama family, he was known as Suddhodana
Gotama. Mahàmàyà, princess of the Koliyas, was