The image of Buddha is often used in jade carvings. In Buddhism, the term 'buddha' usually refers to one who has become enlightened (i.e., awakened to the truth, or Dharma), a person who is completely free from all faults and mental obstructions. The level to which this manifestation requires abstraction from ordinary life (ascetic practices) varies from none at all to an absolute requirement, dependent on doctrine.
In Buddhism, Buddha aslo refers to the historical 'Siddhattha Gautama’, meaning 'descendant of Gotama whose aims are achieved/who is efficacious in achieving aims', a spiritual teacher from ancient India and the founder of Buddhism.He is generally recognized by Buddhists as the Supreme Buddha (Sammāsambuddha) of our age.
According to tradition, Siddhārtha was born more than 200 years before the reign of the Maurya king Aśoka (273–232 BCE). He was born in Lumbini and raised in the small kingdom or principality of Kapilvastu, both of which are in modern day Nepal.
His father was King Suddhodana, the chief of the Shakya nation, one of several ancient tribes in the growing state of Kosala; Gautama was the family name. His mother, Queen Maha Maya (Māyādevī) and Suddhodana's wife, was a Koliyan princess.
On the night Siddhartha was conceived, Queen Maya dreamt that a white elephant with six white tusks entered her right side, and ten lunar months later Siddhartha was born. Various sources hold that the Buddha's mother died at his birth, a few days or seven days later. The infant was given the name Siddhartha (Pāli: Siddhatta), meaning "he who achieves his aim".
During the birth celebrations, the hermit seer Asita journeyed from his mountain abode and announced that the child would either become a great king (chakravartin) or a great holy man.This occurred after Siddhartha placed his feet in Asita's hair and Asita examined the birthmarks. Suddhodarna held a naming ceremony on the fifth day, and invited eight brahmin scholars to read the future. All gave a dual prediction that the baby would either become a great king or a great holy man. Kaundinya (Pali: Kondanna), the youngest, and later to be the first arahant, was the only one who unequivocally predicted that Siddhartha would become a Buddha.
The ravages of poverty, disease, and even old age were therefore unknown to Siddhartha, who grew up surrounded by every comfort in a sumptuous palace. At age twenty-nine, he made three successive chariot rides outside the palace grounds and saw an old person, a sick person, and a corpse, all for the first time. On the fourth trip, he saw a wandering holy man whose asceticism inspired Siddhartha to follow a similar path in search of freedom from the suffering caused by the infinite cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.
Because he knew his father would try to stop him, Siddhartha secretly left the palace in the middle of the night and sent all his belongings and jewelry back with his servant and horse. Completely abandoning his luxurious existence, he spent six years as an ascetic, attempting to conquer the innate appetites for food, sex, and comfort by engaging in various yogic disciplines.
Eventually near death from his vigilant fasting, he accepted a bowl of rice from a young girl. Once he had eaten, he had a realization that physical austerities were not the means to achieve spiritual liberation. At a place now known as Bodh Gaya ("enlightenment place"), he sat and meditated all night beneath a pippala tree. After defeating the forces of the demon Mara, Siddhartha reached enlightenment and became a Buddha ("enlightened one") at the age of thirty-five.
The Buddha continued to sit after his enlightenment, meditating beneath the tree and then standing beside it for a number of weeks. During the fifth or sixth week, he was beset by heavy rains while meditating but was protected by the hood of the serpent king Muchilinda. Seven weeks after his enlightenment, he left his seat under the tree and decided to teach others what he had learned, encouraging people to follow a path he called "The Middle Way," which is one of balance rather than extremism. He gave his first sermon in a deer park in Sarnath, on the outskirts of the city of Benares. He soon had many disciples and spent the next forty-five years walking around northeastern India spreading his teachings.
Although the Buddha presented himself only as a teacher and not as a god or object of worship, he is said to have performed many miracles during his lifetime. Traditional accounts relate that he died at the age of eighty in Kushinagara, after ingesting a tainted piece of either mushroom or pork. His body was cremated and the remains distributed among groups of his followers. These holy relics were enshrined in large hemispherical burial mounds, a number of which became important pilgrimage sites.
In jade carving, the idol most commonly associated with Buddhism is the statue of Buddha with his arms folded in his lap and a beatific smile on his face. The statue is said to represent Buddha's compassion and spiritual tranquility, and while Buddhists do not pray to the Buddha, a lot of them do wear jade Buddha ornaments to acknowledge and thank Buddha for his teachings.
Learn more about Jade & Buddhism:
Jade & Buddha
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