Buddha Purnima 2024: 5 lesser-known facts about Gautam Buddha you probably didn't know

May 25, 2024

Buddha Purnima, also known as Vesak, is an auspicious occasion that commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. The day serves as a reminder of Gautam Buddha's timeless wisdom and compassionate teachings that continue to inspire millions around the world. As we celebrate this significant day in 2024, it's an opportune moment to delve into some lesser-known aspects of the life of the Gautam Buddha.

  1. His Birth Name: While Gautam Buddha is widely recognised by his revered title, his birth name was Siddhartha Gautama. He was born into the Shakya clan in Lumbini, Nepal, around 563 BCE. His name Siddhartha translates to 'one who has achieved his aim' or 'every wish fulfilled.'
  2. His Early Life: Siddhartha Gautama was born into a life of luxury as a prince, shielded from the harsh realities of the world. However, his encounter with the "Four Sights", an old man, a sick man, a corpse, and an ascetic, sparked his quest for understanding the nature of suffering and led him on the path to enlightenment.
  3. The Bodhi Tree: One of the most iconic symbols associated with Gautam Buddha is the Bodhi Tree. It was under this sacred fig tree in Bodh Gaya, India, that Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment after meditating for 49 days. He became the Buddha, which means 'the awakened one,' at the age of 35.
  4. His Teachings: While Gautam Buddha's teachings, known as the Dharma, are widely studied, his approach to spreading them was revolutionary for his time. He emphasised the Middle Way, a path between indulgence and self-mortification, and his teachings focused on alleviating suffering through understanding the nature of the mind and reality.
  5. Parinirvana: Gautam Buddha passed away at the age of 80 in Kushinagar, India, in what is known as his Parinirvana. However, his death is viewed differently in Buddhism compared to other religions. Buddhists believe that he attained Parinirvana, a state beyond life and death, where the cycle of rebirth ceases.

Let this auspicious occasion be a reminder to us all to tread the path of peace, wisdom, and understanding, just as Gautam Buddha did over two millennia ago. Happy Buddha Purnima!