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The Life of Buddha – Story In Pictures

by Vidya Sury July 22, 2012 54 comments
Life of Buddha in pictures #story #buddha

I love my country. I enjoy travel. I dream of visiting all the places I read about. There’s something about seeing new places and people that opens up a new perspective in our minds. The differences, the sameness, the variety – all fascinate me. India is so rich and multi-cultural – and will never cease to enchant me.

The Life of Buddha

As promised, today, I am sharing some beautiful photos of sandstone sculptures that depict the story of the life of the Buddha.  These sculptures span the surface of the Peace Pagoda in Darjeeling and are exquisitely done in fine detail. Enjoy! (Click the photos to see the original size)

In the 6th Century B.C., in the city of Kapilavastu, capital city of the Sakya clan who ruled over the Himalayan region in present day Nepal, there lived a king named Suddhodana and a queen named Mahamaya. One day, the queen was resting in her palace. She had a dream about a white elephant carrying a white lotus entering her womb.

Buddha’s Mother Maya dreams about the White Elephant entering her womb

Soon, a baby was born to the queen. He was named Siddhartha Gautama. A group of astrologers predicted that the young prince would grow up to be either a great emperor, or that he would turn his back on privilege and power to become a great spiritual leader.

The prince led a sheltered life within the palace walls and had no contact with the outside world. His was a luxurious life and he did what princes do – enjoyed life.  Eventually, the prince married a beautiful princess named Yashodhara. They had a son and  named him Rahula. They all lived happily together in a world of wealth and power.

Life went on, until one day, Prince Siddhartha coaxed his father to allow him to go see the city, outside the palace walls. His father, remembering what the astrologers had said, cleverly made sure that the city streets were free from old and sick people. So, when the prince set out on his tour, there were lots of young and happy people around.

Prince Siddharta touring the city with his entourage
But. All good things must come to an end and the prince saw a weak old man on the roadside.  Naturally, he was curious, as he had never seen anything like it before. He wanted to know what was wrong with the man. Imagine his surprise and shock when he learned that becoming old and aging was part of life!! He was moved by the suffering he saw. He made three more trips through the city and saw a sick man, a dead man and a sage – and these led him to realizing  the fundamental truths of life. His life changed forever. These truths are:
  • all men who are born eventually have to die 
  • sickness comes to all men, old age comes to all men, and 
  • renouncing worldly possessions is the way to attaining peace and salvation.
And that’s exactly what he did. Siddhartha left his wife and son at the palace and set out to learn the way of finding salvation and understanding. At the edge of the city, he took off his princely robes, cut his hair and sent his groom back to the palace with his horse.
 
He wandered through the forests seeking understanding from wise men and ascetics. However, this did not bring him satisfaction or greater understanding.
He decided meditation was the way and settled under a tree. And sure enough, there were demons to bug him. He resisted and continued to meditate.
Buddha meditating under the Bodhi Tree as demons of Mara disturb him

Finally, he achieved enlightenment and came to be known as the Buddha (the awakened one). Serene. Calm. The Mahabodhi Temple at the site of Buddha’s enlightenment, is now a pilgrimage site.

Enlightened Buddha
Gods paying tribute to Buddha
Gods – I tried the sepia effect on this
The Buddha delivered his first sermon at Sarnath where he shared the knowledge he had gained through meditation and set the Wheel of the Law in motion. This wheel represents some of the most important teachings of the Buddha and is also known as the dharmachakra. Rather than worshipping one god or gods, Buddhism centres around the timeless importance of the teaching, or the Dharma.
Buddha with disciples, teaching

For the rest of his life, the Buddha traveled around sharing his teachings with many people.  The teachings of the Buddha exist today as the Buddhist Faith.

Buddha, teaching

After his body was cremated, his ashes were divided up and taken to eight different sites. At each of these sites, a mound-like structure called a stupa was built to contain the ashes. Over time, many stupas were built and rebuilt, serving as centres of worship for the Buddha’s followers.The Buddha died in 483 B.C. at the age of 80. Upon his death he attained Nirvana, the ultimate state of spiritual enlightenment. In the Buddhist faith, attaining Nirvana means freedom from the cycle of birth and rebirth on earth.

Do not speak- unless it improves on silence – Buddhist Saying

And now, let’s head over to Unknown Mami’s blog, where she hosts this wonderful meme and delight in traveling the world from there, together. 

Have a beautiful Sunday and a great week ahead, dear friends!

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54 comments

Terri Sonoda July 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Thank you Vidya. This was such a treat! You have a special way of transporting your readers to a wonderful place with your photos and narrative. Your enthusiasm for your country and life in general are inspiring, to say the least. Thanks so much for sharing!
Hugs,
Terri

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Thank you so much Terri. Your comment is something I always look forward to and cherish. Glad you enjoy the posts! Love you!

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bill lisleman July 22, 2012 at 2:41 pm

nice picture story. I agree with you idea of travel. Going to foreign places do open your mind in new ways.

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Thank you! 🙂 You’re right. Travel, even from the keyboard – rather, especially from the keyboard is great. But we were privileged to visit Northeast India. So beautiful!

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Carolyn Hughes July 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm

This has taught me such a lot! I actually didn’t realise that “Buddhism centres around the timeless importance of the teaching, or the Dharma.” I think that a wonderful philosophy. You are never to old to learn and you should never want to stop learning!
As always, some beautiful photos Vidya!

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Thank you, Carolyn! 🙂 It is a beautiful approach!

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Leovi July 22, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Very interesting. I was delighted to see these beautiful reliefs and excellent information. Greetings.

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Thank you, Leovi. 🙂

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Hajra July 22, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Quite a fascinating life indeed. I was always interested in how Buddha lead his life and have read a book about him – I can’t recall the name now. But yes, the detail about his life is absolutely amazing.

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:28 pm

🙂 Glad you liked the post, Hajra. Buddha’s teachings are a joy to read. Especially the quotes.

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Harleena Singh July 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Informative indeed Vidya!

Hmm…those pictures do speak volumes 🙂

I loved the way you beautifully described about Lord Buddha though the pictures you took at Darjeeling. I wonder how many more pics have you got hidden!! 🙂

Lord Buddha was surely someone I marvel at for the journey he underwent and how he reached Nirvana. I can never forget his 3 truths that he discovered as we were made to learn everything about him in school.

Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Thank you, Harleena. The story of Buddha in detail is a very beautiful read! Interestingly, even places that are the no-religion type feature Buddha statues. Because he was the ultimate teacher.

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Heather Smith July 22, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Thanks so much for this! My daughter has to read Siddhartha as one of her summer books for school and I’m bookmarking this to give her more insight…

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Oh, thank you, Heather. Your comment fills my heart. I hope she enjoys it!

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Tara R. July 22, 2012 at 11:00 pm

These reliefs are stunning, and your telling of The Buddha’s life fascinating.

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Thank you Tara. The sandstone sculptures were indeed beautiful, in the early morning light, glowing.

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Cathy | Treatment Talk July 23, 2012 at 5:11 am

Beautiful pictures and love hearing the story of Buddha. He has played such a role in our lives and more people these days seem to be interested in his teachings.

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Yes, Cathy, You are right. I think the world is so rushed, it needs to slow down and get a little spiritual! 🙂

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Fran Sorin July 23, 2012 at 7:19 am

vidya….I am reading a lot about heroes, their journeys, and how each of us are the heroes of our life. I was thinking of Siddharta yesterday and again this morning when out for a walk. The sandstone sculptures of the life of the Buddha are beyond words.

Once again, you open our worlds through your travels. With love, Fran

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Thank you, Fran. So happy to see you here. What a coincidence 😀 Hugs!

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Fran Sorin July 23, 2012 at 7:25 am

Vidya….I’ve been spending a lot of time focusing on the journey of heroes. Siddharta…one of my all time favorite stories came to mind yesterday when going for a walk. When I read your post this morning, I thought how nothing is by accident. The inlaid sculptures/photos of the life of Buddha are divine. With love, Fran

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Evelyn Lim July 23, 2012 at 8:14 am

Thank you for sharing about the life of Buddha both in words and pictures. I also went over to Vidur’s blog – very colorful indeed! It’s nice that you share such close bonding with your son 🙂

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Thank you, Evelyn! I am blessed. 😀

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BLOGitse July 23, 2012 at 8:54 am

What a great post again. It’s amazing how many stories you have to tell.
It’s good we have traditions today’s world, otherwise all youngsters could only play games and hang in internet or facebook. In the Western world we have enough kids who have no meaning in their lives or don’t understand basic rules of life, are lonely etc.
Have a good week!

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm

BLOGitse, you’re right. Mythology, cultures and folklore transport us to a different world. We were lucky to grow up listening to those stories.

Thank you for your comment! 🙂

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Rahul Bhatia July 23, 2012 at 9:33 am

Reading travel tales is such a bliss , Vidya!

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Rahul, thanks. You tell a great tale yourself! 🙂 Love your accounts of your trips!

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NC Sue July 23, 2012 at 10:44 am

Thank you for visiting Wordless Wednesday at http://acts17verse28.blogspot.com/. I appreciate you stopping by and sharing your photo this week! I hope to see you again soon.
Have a great week,
NCSue

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Thank you, Sue! My pleasure. And I love your blog, too!

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vanita July 23, 2012 at 2:36 pm

love these posts girl. absolutely love them. and i love learning about religions, so thank you. vidur’s post is excellent by the way!

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Thank you, Sis. 🙂 Happy you like it!

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Elle July 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Oh Vidya, you’ve made my day. I loved this. In fact I’m going back to the beginning to ready it all again. What a great idea using your pics to tell the story. Did I mention I loved it..Oh oh repeating myself…

Elle
xoxo

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Play on, Elle. Your words are music 😀

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Betsy at Zen Mama July 23, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Written so well! The pictures illustrate the story perfectly. I think I like the closeup of the enlightened Buddha best! Thank, Vidya, again, for sharing your India with me.

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Thanks, Betsy. I love that too! I always think of you when I travel!

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Galen Pearl July 23, 2012 at 7:53 pm

I never tire of hearing this story, and I especially never tire of YOUR stories and photos. You wear so many hats–professor, photographer, travel guide, and many more.

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Thank you, dear Galen. I love photography and travel and the others, but “Professor”? 🙂 Hugs, thanks.

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del king July 23, 2012 at 10:44 pm

What amazing sculptures. I was lucky enough to learn about the story of Buddha at Vipassana Kendra near Nasik. It was amazing. Thanks for the link to Vidur’s blog, I hope to learn more.

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Thank you! 🙂 Vipassana is supposed to be a great experience. Maybe some day I’ll be lucky to attend one. Glad you like Vidur’s blog 😀

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ceodraiocht July 23, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Just lovely – I’m especially attracted to the panel of the enlightened buddha, fantastic image.

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Thank you, Maggie. He look so serene, doesn’t he? 🙂

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My Inner Chick July 23, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Vidya,
I found this extremely interesting.

I didn’t know much of this…including that Buddha was a REAL PERSON. I assumed he was a God, but did not know he walked the earth….

Am I ignorant?

Love you more. X

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Never ignorant, Kim. Just enlightened. He is considered equal to God and one of the avatars of the Hindu God Lord Vishnu.

I love you too!

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thoughtstomull.com July 24, 2012 at 12:56 am

This is wonderfully written, cultural education, and beautiful pictures to go along with it! I read Vidur’s post, as well, and what a wonderful job he did!!! Thanks, Vidya!

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Thank you so much for your kind words, Janet! 😀

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Hiten July 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Hi Vidya,

This was a briliant story of the life of Lord Buddha and the photos were exquisite.

As a Vipassana meditator, I’m very interested in the teachings of Buddha.

I’m going to definitely check our Vidhur’s post.

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Hiten July 24, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Hi Vidya,

This was a briliant story of the life of Lord Buddha and the photos were exquisite.

As a Vipassana meditator, I’m very interested in the teachings of Buddha.

I’m going to definitely check our Vidhur’s post.

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Thank you, Hiten. Vidur is crazy about mythology and loves sketching the stories too. 🙂 Glad you came by!

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Hiten July 24, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Hi Vidya,

This was a briliant story of the life of Lord Buddha and the photos were exquisite.

As a Vipassana meditator, I’m very interested in the teachings of Buddha.

I’m going to definitely check our Vidhur’s post.

Reply
Hiten July 24, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Hi Vidya,

I loved your story on the life of Lord Buddha and the photos were exquisite.

As a Vipassana meditator, I’m very interested in the teachings of Buddha.

I’m going to definitely read Vidur’s post.

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Unknown Mami July 25, 2012 at 5:00 am

I love the do not speak quote. I need to take that to heart.

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Claudya, I love it too. I had it written down somewhere and am glad I saw it while writing this post. Thank you!

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Barbara July 29, 2012 at 6:43 am

What a great post, Vidya, thank you for sharing Lord Buddha’s life with us. And the beautiful reliefs give it such a realistic touch, nice idea with the sepia effect.
I brought back a statue of the enlightened Buddha from India (well, I had it sent as it was rather heavy and had more than 20 kg overweight already) and it has a place of honour and fresh flowers, I love to look at it and feel the serenity.

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Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm

That is so lovely, Barbara. I’d love to see a picture of your Buddha! I collect Buddha statues and Ganesha statues. 😀 Yes – I love the expression, which is always beautiful and calming! Hugs!

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