‘Buddha’ refers to ‘awakened one’ or ‘the enlightened one’. Prince Siddhartha chose his way to enlightening rather than inheriting the kingdom from his father King Suddhodana. Siddhartha, whose name suggests ‘perfect wealth’, found his perfect wealth in being enlightened.
The prince, born in 563 BC at Lumbinī in the Rupandehi District of Nepal, was not allowed to cross the royal boundaries so that he cannot witness the human sufferings of the outside world. However, in the age of 29, Siddhartha made four independent forays, finally getting a changed approach towards life. Later, he left the worldly garnishes and royal life along with his sleeping wife and newly-born son in the palace. He wandered northern India in search of enlightenment and finally after a reputed 49 days of meditation, at the age of 35, he got enlightenment, at the base of a ficus tree in Gaya in Bihar, now known as Bodh Gaya. Then, he became a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent and delivered his first teachings in Sarnath in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.
The religion of Buddhism was founded on the teachings of Gautam Buddha. Buddhism, in general, is a way of getting peace within oneself, helping one to find the happiness and contentment they seek. The religion spread its wings from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Orissa. Apart from India and Nepal, Moreover, Buddhism has also reached largely in Sri Lanka, China, South East Asian countries and Japan.
Buddhist Art and Culture
The life of the Gautama Buddha in the 6th to 5th century BC is the main base of the Buddhsit art and culture in the Indian subcontinent. However, later it evolved through its contact with other cultures and its dissemination over the rest of Asia and the world. The Buddhist religious architecture most prominently developed in the South Asia in the third century BC, being the structures associated with early Buddhism including stupas and viharas. Buddhist music mainly includes Honkyoku, Buddhist Chant, and Shomyo. Buddhist cuisine is known as zhāi cài (zhāi refers to ‘purification’ or ‘discipline’, cai means ‘cuisine’ or ‘vegetable’) in China, and shōjin ryōri (shōjin refers to ‘devotion’, ryōri means ‘cuisine’) in Japan, and by different names in other countries.