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Updated: 2009-08-12 15:42

Buddha is also named as Shakyamuni. Buddha is the appellation for the founder of Buddhism, which means sage or prophet. The Chinese word fo is the abbreviation for Buddha and Shakyamuni means sage of theShakyaKingdom. People used to regard him as an omniscient divinity while Shakyamuni was an Indian living in the fifth and sixth century with the first name Siddh? rtha and the surname Gautama. Because he was from the Shakya clan, he was called Shakyamuni. He was the founder of Buddhism.

Shakyamuni Buddha was born on April 8, 464BC. He was the prince of thekingdomofKapila(now inNepal) inIndia. According to the old Indian customs, the 16-year-old prince married a beautiful princess called Yasodhara. They had a care-free life in the royal palace. However, noticing all kinds of pains and worries existing in the world, Buddha was tired of the sumptuous life in the palace and decided to find a way to relieve all these sufferings. At the age of 29, he resolutely became a monk despite the opposition from his father.

Buddha spent six years traveling throughout theGangesareas and visiting famous religious leaders. He was not satisfied with all the studies and practices so that he broke from all religious traditions of his time and retreated into solitary meditation under a bodhi tree (tree of intelligence) beside theNeranjaraRiver. After 49 days of contemplation he experienced the enlightenment of how to be released from the cycle of existences. From the moment of his enlightenment on, he was known under the name Buddha Shakyamuni.

In the Deer Park of Sarnath, Buddha turned the wheel of teaching for the first time and taught his first five disciples according to his insights, who also attained enlightenment and were the first samgha in history. While their morality and intelligence compared unfavorably with those of the Buddha, they receivedLuohan Guo(Lohan Fruit) (man worthy of oblation) other thanFo Guo(Buddha Fruit).

Buddha spent 45 years spreading Buddhism throughoutGangesareas and fostered numerous followers. There is a kin relationship between the Buddha and theShaolinTempleinLuoyangCityofHenanProvinceinChina. Buddha came toChinain the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534) to spread Buddhism and won the respect of all. After the Northern Wei Dynasty moved its capital toLuoyang, Emperor Xiaowen constructed theShaolinTemplefor him, thus Buddha became the founder of theShaolinTemple.

Buddha died inIndiaat the age of 80.

Nowadays Buddhism is one of the three worldwide religions with the number of disciples exceeding 500 million throughout Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Japan, Korea, Russia, Europe, the US and many other countries.

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