The Beginning: Siddhartha Gautama was born in a Royal family and his father was a king. When Gautama was born, his father invited a great sage of that time to their palace to seek his blessings for a great future and prosperity. The Sage was provided best possible hospitality by the king. It was a grand event. At the end of the event, it was the time to seek the blessings. Gautama’s father asked the Sage about the future of his son. Sage looked at Gautama and said, either he will become a great King or he will become a great Sage/Being. Saying this, Sage left king’s palace and the celebration was over. That night The King Suddhodhana could not sleep. He wanted his son to be a great king and not a sage. He decided that he will never expose Gautama to any kind of suffering in his life because he was afraid that if Gautama is exposed to any situation where suffering is involved he will turn into a Sage. Suddhodhana built a grand palace for Gautama called as the Pleasure Palace. For all the initial years of Gautama’s life, he was surrounded with pleasures and pleasures. The best dancers and musicians of the country used to perform for him. His father made sure that Gautama should never see any kind of suffering in his life. The only best friend Gautama had was a stable boy called ‘Channa’, who used to look after Gautama’s Horses. Gautama’s father also got him married at the very early stage and his wife was the most beautiful women of the town.
The Turmoil: It was just like any other day. Gautama was having fun in the pleasure palace. His friend Channa was serving the horses. Gautama went to Channa and asked to take him out of the palace and arrange the tour of the town. Channa agreed to do so under one condition that he should not tell his father about it. Gautama made a deal with Channa and that night when everyone fell asleep, Channa took the Gautama out of his palace for the very first time in his life. When they were traversing through the local area, Gautama saw a very old poor man lying on one side of the road. Gautama looked at him and asked his Charioteer Channa, What is this person? Gautama was around 19-20 years of age & had never seen an old man in his life. Channa said in a very relaxed tone, Oh, That is just an Old Man! Gautama gave a serious thought to what Channa said and again asked, I am the Prince of this town, Will I also get old? Channa replied, ‘Yes Majesty!, everyone gets old after living for a certain period of time’. Then they moved further in town.
When they were passing through the house to house, Suddenly Gautama heard the noises of a person’s cry from inside of a house. Gautama asked Channa, Why is this man crying? Channa replied, Your Majesty, It seems that the person is suffering from a serious disease and out of pain he is crying. Gautama asked, ‘Can this happen to me’? Channa said, this is just a disease, anybody can become a victim of it. Gautama again went into a deep thought. He asked Channa to take him back to the palace as he was not able to take all this. That whole night Gautama could not sleep. All those incidents kept rotating in his mind.
Next night again Gautama asked Channa to take him out in the town as he wanted to explore more. To their surprise this time they witnessed the procession of a dead man who was being taken to the cremation ground. Gautama looked at all this and asked Channa, What happened to this person? Channa said, He just died and is being taken for the cremation. Again a big blow to Gautama as he never knew that a person could die. Then he asked, Will I also Die? Channa said, Yes Majesty!, everyone who is born on this earth dies one day. Again that night Gautama couldn’t sleep for a moment. He started feeling guilty of all the things which he was doing in his life. He said to himself, What am I doing with all these pleasures and pleasures. He was in a state of complete confusion after witnessing all these realities of life. He started questioning himself, What is the nature of this life? What happens when a Person Dies? Is there something beyond the physicality of who he is? All these questions started popping in his mind.
The New Path: For few months he kept on thinking about all these questions, but couldn’t find an answer. Then he decided to leave everything and explore the outer world to find the answers. He tried to flee many times but just the thought of his wife and his parents used to stop him from doing it. But when the pain of questions became unbearable he couldn’t contain himself in the palace anymore. And almost after a year and a half he silently slipped out of the palace leaving behind his young wife and a newly born baby. Then Gautama visited numerous places to find the answers. He went to every possible Sage, Saint, Spiritual Master so that he could find meaning to his big questions. He also tried innumerable techniques including Yoga to get the jist of what he was looking for. But it seemed that nothing could quench his thirst. He went to such an extent where he almost was on the verge of dying out of hunger.
The Awakening: Having traveled for so many years to different places, Having tried all the possible methods of exploring truth, Gautama was still not satisfied with what he had achieved. One night, He just sat under a tree, closed his eyes and said to himself, Either he will know the ultimate truth of life or he will die under this tree sitting. That very night, Gautama got enlightened and that night happened to be a full moon night which is now celebrated as ‘Buddh Poornima’ in India. The tree under which Gautama sat & became Buddha is now famously known as the ‘Bodhi Tree’ in Bodh Gaya, (Bihar, India).