Siddharth aka Gautam Buddha – The Early Life
The early life of Siddharth (later Buddha) is not something which is widespread besides the Rishi’s verdict that he will become Buddha one day, along with one or two other tales. According to the Buddhist tradition, Siddharth’s birth and his journey till the transformation is as intriguing as his later life of preaching and sermonizing. However, of all the earlier stories, the most captivating thing is his birth to his virgin mother – Queen Maya or Maha Maya.
The Birth of Buddha
Queen Mahapajapati Gotami is known as an adoptive mother of Buddha but the woman who gave birth to Buddha was not Gotami but her elder sister Maha Maya. Maya was Suddhodhana’s first wife and also cousin. She was daughter of the Devadaha ruler, a township of the Sakya clan. Although the two were happily married, they did not have any children for 20 years. But, then one day, during the midsummer, something very strange happened.
The Strange Dream of Queen Maya
Queen Maha Maya saw a stunning dream. She felt as if four angels were carrying her to a lake in the white peaks of Himalayas, who bathed and clothed her in divine flowers. Next, a huge white elephant with a white flower in its trunk came near the queen and walked around her thrice, getting into her womb from the right side. Queen Maya, soon woke up. As elephant is a symbol of greatness in India, Queen Maya thought some important message has been delivered to her through the dream. King Suddhodhana then summoned around sixty-four Brahmanas to come to Kapilvastu and interpret the Queen’s dream.
The Brahmanas interpreted that it means the birth of a son and if the son doesn’t leave the household he will become a world conqueror but if he will, he would then become a Buddha. Queen Maya had conceived through the dream and when the time of the birth came closer, the queen as per the tradition travelled to her native home in Devadaha from Kapilvastu.
The Birth of Buddha in Lumbini
While travelling from Kapilvastu in the palanquin Queen Maya came across the Lumbini orchard which was full of blossoming trees. Mesmerized by the beauty Maha Maya thought of walking in the beautiful garden under the Sal tree. The queen then delivered Buddha in the standing pose from her right side by holding the sal branch. This is how Gautam Buddha was born on the 8th day of April in 563 BCE. The Gods then showered rain to bathe the newly born.
The Strange Death of Maha Maya
Both Queen Maya and her son then reached Kapilvastu. However, seven days later, Queen Maya died. She is said to be reborn in the heaven. The reason for her death is not known but according to the Buddhist folklore, the Buddha who was dwelling in heaven, decided to take birth on the earth with the help of a white elephant. In the serial, the Buddha which is shown every Sunday on Zee TV shows Maha Maya as tree, that is she took the form of a tree after her death.
After the death of Maha Maya, Siddharth was raised by his foster mother and maternal aunt Mahapajapati Gotami who was also his step-mother. She was also the first Buddhist nun who appealed ordination from the Buddha to join the Sangha.
The Relation between the birth of Buddha and Christ
Since, Buddha was born way before Jesus Christ and their process of birth was same, it is a common perception that Jesus Christ was perhaps a reincarnation of Gautam Buddha.
By: Deepti Verma