THE LIFE OF BUDDHA. 75 darkness. After a gloomy night ride, he sent back his one companion, the faithful charioteer, with his horse and jewels to his father. Having cut off his long warrior hair, and exchanged his princely raiment for the rags of a poor passer-by, he went on alone a homeless beggar. This giving up of princely pomp, and of loved wife and new-born son, is the Great Renunciation which forms a favourite theme of the Buddhist Scriptures. Legend of Buddha's Forest Life, set. 30 to 36. — For a time Gautama studied under two Brahman hermits, in Patna District. They taught him that the peace of the soul was to be reached only by mortifying the body. He then buried himself deeper in the jungles near Gayd, and during six years wasted himself by austerities in company with five disciples. The temple of Buddha-Gaya marks the site of his long penance. But instead of earning peace of mind by fasting and self- torture, he sank into a religious despair, during which the Buddhist Scriptures affirm that the enemy of mankind, M&ra, wrestled with him in bodily shape. Torn with doubts as to whether all his penance availed anything, the haggard hermit fell senseless to the earth. When he recovered, the mental agony had passed. He felt that the path to salvation lay not in self-torture in mountain-jungles or caves, but in preaching a higher life to his fellow-men. He gave up penance. His five disciples, shocked by this, forsook him ; and he was left alone in the forest. The Buddhist Scriptures depict him as sitting serene under a fig-tree, while demons whirled round him with flaming weapons. From this temptation in the wilderness he came forth with his doubts for ever laid at rest, seeing his way clear, and henceforth to be known as Buddha, literally ' The Enlightened.' Public Teaching of Buddha, set. 36 to 80. — Buddha began his public teaching in the Deer-Forest, near the great city of Benares. Unlike the Brahmans, he preached, not to one or two disciples of the sacred caste, but to the people. His first converts were common men, and among the earliest were women. After three months he had gathered around him sixty disciples, whom he sent forth to the neighbouring coun- tries with these words : ' Go ye now, and preach the most
Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/79
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