To mark the anniversary of the birth of the Buddha (or Vesakh) on 9th
May 2001 the Object of the Month for May is this beautiful stone masterpiece
of Buddhist sculpture.
The Life of the Buddha
Buddha means ‘Enlightened One’. According to Buddhist belief he, like
all of us, had many lives. Just before his final birth as a human he lived
as a Buddha-to-be (a Bodhisattva) in a heaven. It is traditionally believed
that he was born into this world as Siddhartha Gautama towards the middle
of the 6th century BC during the full moon in May. Born as a prince of
the Sakya tribe, he renounced his family and royal status to become a
wandering asectic, seeking liberation from this world, with its inevitable
suffering and round of rebirth. Eventually at Gaya in Bihar, seated beneath
a pipal tree, he attained Perfect Knowledge. From then on he was called
‘Enlightened One’ (Buddha) and taught what he had discovered for 45 years
until he died aged 80. Believed to be one of a line of Buddhas, he is
thought to have re-established the faith rather than founded it.