The Buddha was born to the ruler of the North Indian Shakya clan in the Himalayan foothills, in the capital of Kapilavastu. It was foretold that He would become a highly accomplished ruler or a monk of all-surpassing greatness. Eager to ensure that His only son does not turn to a life of the latter, His father the King Suddhodana gave Him the finest upbringing a mortal could ask for. Shortly after marrying the beautiful Yashodhara who His father had lovingly chosen for Him, He renounced the life of plenty He was born into and wandered off into the woods. He lived like an ascetic, then returned amidst human settlements along North India's plentiful plains, in terms of both nature and society, wherein He lived the life of a homeless monk.
After years of having observed such austerities, the Buddha reached Gaya and sat down beneath the fateful tree on he banks of the Niranjana. Out of sheer determination, He was subsumed into a meditative trance that carried Him into memories of His previous lifetimes. It revealed to Him the vicious cycle of death following birth following death, the cycle of human suffering. Within the glowing stretch of His vision, His soul finally shed all its desire. Henceforth, the clarity and understanding that took its place is what we know as Enlightenment today. Because no one was around when the moment of Enlightenment occurred, the Buddha lowered a hand and touched the earth to call upon it as His witness. Thus, the remarkable bhumisparsha mudra, which is the foremost stance that comes to mind when devotees hear the utterance of His name.
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