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THE LIFE OF BUDDHA
Buddha Shakyamuni was born Prince Siddhartha around 563 B.C. among the southern foothills of the Himalayas, the son of the great king Shuddhodana Gautama and Queen Maya. One night when the moon was full, Queen Maya dreamed that a white elephant descended and entered into her womb through the right side of her chest, and she became pregnant. According to their custom, the Queen Maya returned to her parents' home for the birth, and on her way, in the beautiful spring sunshine, she took a rest in the Lumbini Garden. All about her were Ashoka blossoms. In delight she reached her right arm out to pluck a branch, and as she did so, a prince was born. In great joy King Shuddhodana Gautama named the child Siddhartha, which means " Wish Fulfilled." The Buddha's birthday is celebrated on the eighth day of April.

The King and Queen then consulted the hermit sage Asita, who came to the palace to honor the child. He predicted: "This Prince, if he remains in the palace, when grown up will become a great king and subjugate the whole world. But if he forsakes the court life to embrace a religious life, he will become a Buddha, the Savior of the world." At the age of seven, Prince Siddhartha began his lessons in the civil and military arts, but his thoughts more naturally tended to other things. One spring day he went out of the castle with his father. Together they were watching a farmer at his plowing when he noticed a bird descended to the ground and carried off a small worm which had been turned up by the farmer's plough. He sat down in the shade of a tree and thought about it, whispering to himself: "Do all living creatures kill each other?" more >>