A Buddha is one who has attained Bodhi. By Bodhi is meant an ideal state of intellectual and ethical perfection which can be attained by man by purely human means. In order to make a clear how the Buddha attained bodhi, let me narrate a brief summary of the Buddha's life.
About 623 years before the Christian era, there was born in Lumbini Park in the district of Kapilavathu, now known as Padaria in the district or modern Nepal, an Indian Sakyan prince, Siddattha Gotama by name. To mark the spot as the birth place of greatest teacher of mankind, and as a token of his reverence for him, the Emperor Asoka in 239 B.C. erected a pillar bearing the inscription "Here was the Enlightened One born".
Gotama's father was Suddhodana, king of Kapilavtthu, the chief town of the Sakyan clan; and his mother, who died seven days after his birth, was Queen Maya who also belonged to the same clan. Under the care of his maternal aunt, Pajapati Gotami, Suddattha spent his early years in ease, luxury and culture. At the age of sixteen he was married to his cousin, Yasodhara, the daughter of Suppabuddha, the king of Devadaha, and they had a son Rahula.
For nearly thirteen years Siddhattha led the life of a luxurious Indian prince, seeing only the beautiful and pleasant. In his twenty-nine year, however the truth gradually dawned upon him, and he realized that all without exception were subject to birth, decay, death, and that all worldly pleasure were only a prelude to pain. Comprehending thus the universality of sorrow, he had a strong desire to find the origin of it, and a panacea for his universal sickness of humanity. Accordingly he renounced the world and donned the simple grab of an ascetic.
Wandering as a seeker after peace he placed himself under the spiritual guidance of two renowned Brahman teachers, Alara and Uddaka. The former was head of a large number of followers at Vesali, and was an adherent of Kapila, the reputed founder of the Sassata System of philosophy, who laid great stress on the belief in atman, the ego. He regarded the disbelief in the existence of a soul as not tending towards religion. Without the belief in an eternal immaterial limitations would attain perfect realse; when the ego discerned its immaterial nature it would attain true deliverance. This teaching did not satisfy the Bodhisatta, and quitted Alama and placed himself under the tuition of Uddaka.
The later also expatiated on the question of "I', but laid greater stress on the effects of kamma and the transmigration of soul. The Boddhisatta was the truth in the doctrine of kamma, but he could not believe in the existence of a soul or its transmigration; he therefore quitted Uddaka also and went to the priest officiating in temples to see if he could learn from them the way of escape from suffering and sorrow. However, the unnecessarily cruel sacrifices performed on the altars of the gods were revolting to his gentle nature and Gotama preached to the priests the futility of atoning for evil deeds by the destruction of life, and the impossibility of practicing religion by neglect on the moral life.
Wandering from Vesali in search of a better system Sidhattha went to many a distinguished teacher of his days, but nobody was competent to give him what he earnestly sought. All the so-called philosophers were going in the dark, it was a matter of blind leading the blind, for they were all enmeshed ignorance. At last Siddhatta came to a settlement of five pupils of Uddaka, headed by Kondanna, in the jungle of Uruvela near Gaya in Magadha. There he saw these five keeping their senses in check, subduing their passions and practicing austere penance. He admired their zeal and earnestness, and to give trial to the means used by them he applied himself to mortification, for it was the belief in those days that no salvation could be gained unless one lead a life of strict asceticism so he subjected himself to all forms of practicable austerities. Adding vigil to vigil and penance to penance, he made a super-human effort for six long years until eventually his body became shrunken like a withered branch. His body dried up, the skin shriveled and the veins protruded, but the more he tortured his body the farther his goal receded from him. His strenuous and unsuccessfully endeavors taught him one important lesson, through, and that was the utter futility of self-mortification.
Having this valuable experience he finally decided to follow an independent course avoiding the two extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification, for the former tends to retard one's spiritual progress and the later to awaken one's intellect. The new path was the Majjhima Patipada, the Middle Path, which subsequently became one of the salient characteristics of his teaching.
Early in the morning on the full moon day of Vesakha, as he was seated in deep mediation under Bodhi Tree, unaided and unguided by any supernatural agency but solely relying on his own efforts, the consciousness of true insight possessed him. He saw the mistaken ways that all the various faiths maintained, he discerned the sources whence exactly suffering came and the way that leads to its annihilation. He saw that the cause of suffering lay in a selfish cleaving to life, and that the way of escape from suffering lay in treading the Eightfold Path. With discernment of these grand truths and their realization in life, the Boddhisatta eradicated all passions and attained enlightenment, he thus became a Buddha.
After Buddha has attained the enlightenment, his first sermon was delivered to his five pupils including Kondanna and his four companions in which he explained the Four Noble Truths, and Noble Eightfold Path. They received ordination and formed the first nucleus of the holy brotherhood of disciples known as Sangha.
During his active life the Buddha made many converts, high and low, rich and poor, educated and illiterate, Brahmans and chandalas, ascetics and householders, robbers and cannibals, nobles and peasants, men and women from all classes and conditions became his countless disciples, both ordained and lay. After a supreme ministry of forty-five years the Buddha, in his last preaching tour came to town of Kusinara in the eastern part of Nepal, where he passed into Nivana at the ripe age of eighty. His last words to his disciples were "All conditioned things are subject to decay; strive with heedfulness".
Thus Buddha was therefore a human being. As a man he was born, as a man he lived, and as a man his life came to an end. Though a human being he became an extra-ordinary man, acchariya manussa, as he himself says in the Anguttara Nikaya; he does not claim to be an incarnation of Vishnu, as the Hindus believe, nor does he call himself a savior who saves others by his personal salvation. The Buddha exhort his disciples to depend on themselves for their salvation, for both purity and defilement depend on oneself. In the Dhamapada he say "you yourselves should make the exertion, the Buddhas are only teachers. The thoughtful who enter the Way are freed from the bondage of sin. He who does not rouse himself when it is time to rise, who, though young and strong is full of aloth, whose will and thoughts are weak. that lazy and idle man will never find the way to enlightenment. Strenuousness is the path of immorality, sloth the path of death,. Those who are strenuous do not die; those who are slothful are as dead already''.
Buddha pointed out the Path, and it is left us to follow that Path to save ourselves. To depended on others for salvation is negative, but to depended on oneself is positive. In exhorting his disciples to be self-dependent the Buddha says in the Parinibbana Sutta, " be ye lamp unto yourselves; be ye refuge to yourselves; hold fast to the Dhama as a lamp; hold fast to the Dhama as a refuge; seek not for the refuge in anyone except yourselves. Whosoever shall be a lamp unto themselves and refuge unto themselves, it is they among the seekers after Boddhi who shall reach the very topmost height'.
Furthermore the Buddha does not claim the monopoly of Buddha-hood which, factually, is not the special prerogative of any specially chosen person. He reached the highest possible state of perfection to which any person could aspire, and he revealed the only straight path that leads thereto. According to the teaching of the Buddha anybody may aspire to that supreme state of perfection if he makes the necessary exertion; thus, instead of disheartening his followers and reserving that exalted state only for himself, the Buddha gave encouragement and inducement to follow his noble example.
The teaching founded by the Buddha is known in English as Buddhism. After this So you will be so eager to know the following;