Essay by mikesmith969University, Master's May 2005

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The word Buddha means "enlightened one." It is used today as a title

to the one who has given us more religious beliefs than almost any other

human who lived in this world. However, he was not given this name at

birth; he had to earn it for himself by undergoing long, hard hours of

meditation and contemplation. Buddha has changed the lifestyles of many

cultures with new, never-before asked questions that were explained by

his search for salvation. He began an entirely new religion that dared

to test the boundaries of reality and go beyond common knowledge to find

the answers of the mysteries of life. India         During the sixth

century BC, India was a land of political and religious turmoil. It was

an era of great brutality with the domination of Northwest India by

Indo-Aryan invaders. Many people, influenced by the Aryan civilization,

began to question the value of life and it's true meaning.

Schools were

opened because of this curiosity where teachers would discuss the

significance of existence and the nature of man and held programs to

reconstruct one's spiritual self. (Pardue, page 228) Background         Near

the town of Kapilavastivu, today known as Nepal, lived King Suddhodhana

and Queen Maya of the indigenous tribe known as the Shakyas.

(Encyclopedia Americana, page 687) Queen Maya soon became pregnant and

had a dream shortly before she gave birth. In this dream a beautiful,

white elephant with six tusks entered her room and touched her side.

This dream was soon interpreted by the wisest Brahmin, or Priest of

Brahmanism, that she was to give birth to a son that would, if he were to

remain in the castle, become the wisest king in the world, but if he were

ever to leave the castle he would then become the wisest...