Hossein Amini 5S

GCSE Religious Studies Coursework: Buddhism


                     The Life of the Buddha

Question 1- Select, describe and explain the events in the life of Siddhartha Gautama, which illustrate his religious development


There are generally many events in the life of Siddhartha Gautama, which illustrate his religious development, but personally, I have planned to look at specific events very carefully.

      It can be said that the events contained specifically within the past lives of  Siddhartha Guatama illustrate his religious development. There are, most evidently, the Jataka tales of the Pali Canon, which are supposedly stories of his actual rebirths. First of all, there is a most fundamental event, which occurs at around 100,000,000 aeons ago, where Dipuncena makes the crucial Bodhissatva vow to devote a life for the help of others. Now, after this, we see many stories of compassionate actions done by the 547 reincarnations of Dipuncena in the form of animal, god, and man. For example, one is the courageous story of Prince Vessantra, who gives up everything that he owns, even his wife and children out of compassion. The fact that he did this, giving everything and not expecting anything in return, portrays Dana, which is the idea of charity, and is a fundamental quality that is essential to be on the way to the Bodhissatva Path. There is also the story of the young prince, who ‘ slits his own throat in order for a starving tigress with seven hungry cubs, might live by eating his own flesh’. In terms of religious development, this is clearly showing the Bodhisattva Concept as it is displaying extreme compassion, or Karuna. A clear favourite, is of the loving, and righteous monkey king, and how he, by bridging himself, saved his fellow monkeys, but died while being bridged. This shows the Bodhisattva Concept again as he died to save his fellow monkeys and therefore delayed his enlightenment to help others. He developed the religious virtue of patience (Kshanti) as an ascetic in a previous life where he felt no hatred, only pity, for the evil king who cut his body into pieces, bit by bit. These stories all exemplify how the Bodhisattva developed all the qualities and characteristics of someone on the Bodhissatva path (according to Mahayana), and also, it shows the Bodhissatva concept, as his own enlightenment is delayed purely for the sake of other’s enlightenment, but on the other hand, he religiously develops himself to bring his spirit and mind even closer to attaining the ultimate enlightenment, and fulfilment of his vow.

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     The most obvious and clear event, which shows his religious development, is the four sights. Here, upon leaving the palace with a charioteer, he sees an old man, a sick man, a dead man, and a holy man. Certainly in the first three, he realises that everyone grows old, everyone may face disease and everyone has to die. This is actually very moving for Siddhartha Gautama, as it increases his religious, and therefore Buddhist development, but more importantly, his awareness of life. However, a deeper analysis of his situation concludes that this impact of shock was even more ...

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