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Buddha

Gautama Siddhartha was born prince into the ancient Sakya clan, whose symbol was the lion; hence he is often known as "Sakyamuni" (the Sage of the Sakya), or as "Sakyasimha" (the Lion of the Sakya). His father Suddhodana belonged to the warrior caste and tried to prevent that the young prince would grow up to be a holy man by making sure that the prince lived a sheltered life in the royal palace, ignorant of the world outside. Even to this day Buddha is represented with extended ear lobes to symbolize they were once stretched out of shape by the weight of the costly jewelry he wore. At the age of 16 Gautama Siddhartha married Yashodhara and had a son, Rahula. At the age of 35 Sakyamuni attained enlightenment sitting under the Bodhi tree, or the tree of enlightenment. He now gave his first public sermon in the Deer Park at Sarnath, near Benares, setting in motion the wheel of the Dharma (or spiritual law) as he expounded the doctrine of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. At the age of 80, after 45 years of teaching, the Buddha entered into a deep trance and died peacefully in the Sala Grove in Kushinagara. The Buddha's coffin burned for seven days and Buddha's ashes, or sharira, were divided into eight parts, and enshrined in special mounded shrines called stupas, throughout the world.

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