Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/78

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[74] CHAPTER V. Buddhism— 543 B.C. to 1000 A.D. Rise of Buddhism, 543 B.C.* — The Brahmans had firmly established their power 6oo years before Christ. But after that date a new religion arose in India, called Buddhism, from the name of its founder, Gautama Buddha. This new religion was a rival to Brahmanism during more than a thousand years. About the ninth century a.d. Buddhism was driven out of India. But it is still professed by 500 millions of people in Asia, and has more followers than any other religion in the world. The Legend of Buddha : his Early Life. — Gautama, afterwards named Buddha, ' The Enlightened,' was the only son of Suddhodana, King of Kapilavastu. This prince ruled over the Sakya people, about 100 miles north of Benares, and within sight of the snow-topped Himalayas. The king wished to see his son grow up into a warrior like himself. But the young prince shunned the sports of his playmates, and spent his time alone in nooks of the palace garden. When he reached manhood, however, he showed himself brave and skilful with his weapons. He won his wife by a contest at arms over all rival chiefs. For a time he forgot the religious thoughts ol his boyhood in the enjoyment of the world. But in his drives through the city he was struck by the sights of old age, disease, and death which met his eye ; and he envied the calm of a holy man, who seemed to have raised his soul above the changes and sorrows of this life. After ten years, his wife bore to him an only son; and Gautama, fearing lest this new tie should bind him too closely to the things of earth, retired about the age of thirty to a cave in the jungles. The story is told how he turned away from the door of his wife's lamp-lit chamber, denying himself even a parting caress of his new-born babe, lest he should wake the sleeping mother, and galloped off into the

  • The Nirvana or death of Buddha is assigned to 543 or to 478 B.C.