The enlightenment of Gautam Buddha

- May 28, 2021

By Vijita Mukherjee and Aditya Sen 

Prince Siddhartha Gautama of the Shakya clan left his family and kingdom after he saw the four symbols. He met many teachers and learnt many practices to realise the nature of human existence.

He did not give up

Gautama devoted himself to severe austerities for several years. His body wasted away, yet enlightenment eluded him. Looking at his single-minded dedication, his band of ascetics was sure that he was about to reach realisation. Then one day Buddha walked towards a river, splashed water on his face and felt refreshed. He accepted food from a passer-by woman and he ate a full meal after many months. His companions were aghast and felt disappointed that he had abandoned his spiritual quest at this point and they left him.  But a renewed energy began to course through Gautama’s body. He had not given up. He had just changed direction. 

Illustration: Souren Roy | Script: S.K. Ramachandra

Then Gautama sat under the Bodhi (peepal) Tree in Bodh Gaya, Bihar to meditate. The skies darkened and heavy rain fell. It was then that the King of Serpents, Mucalinda rose from beneath the earth and protected Gautama with his hood. After the storm passed the serpent king took a human form, bowed joyfully to the mendicant and returned to his palace in the nether worlds.


Mara, the Buddhist ‘Lord of the Senses’ tried to tempt Gautama on several occasions. As he meditated under the Bodhi tree, Mara appeared as a messenger with the news that his family had been dethroned. Next, Mara sent his three daughters, Trsna, Rati, and Raga (thirst, desire, and delight) and tried to distract him. He also frightened all the gods who had come to honour Gautama with a storm of rain, rocks and ashes. But he did not succeed in breaking Gautama’s dedication to his spiritual quest.

Illustration: Souren Roy
The dawn of enlightenment 

After sitting for 49 days in meditation, as dawn broke, Gautama was bathed in the light of complete knowledge. It was as if a door had opened within him. He was now a  Buddha or one who has attained wisdom. Brahma appeared to Gautam Buddha and urged him to teach the people what he had realised. 

The first sermon

Buddha then set out for Benares to find his erstwhile companions. They had left him earlier because they thought that he had abandoned the path of spirituality. He found them at a grove at Sarnath called the Deer Park.

Illustration: Souren Roy | Script: S.K. Ramachandra

When they saw him coming, they decided that they would ignore him.  They felt that they did not need him. But as he drew nearer, they noticed a great change had come over him. He was noble, majestic and so mesmerising that they hastened to meet him.

Here he delivered his first sermon, ‘The Dharma Chakra Pravartan’ or the turning of the wheel of law. He discussed the ‘Middle path’ and the ‘Four Noble Truths’ which are the tenets of Buddhism.

Thus, Siddhartha Gautam came to be known as Gautam Buddha on attaining the highest spiritual knowledge and began to spread it amongst all the people.

Read the full story of the Enlightened One in our title Buddha, now available on the ACK Comics App, Kindle, Flipkart, Amazon, and other major e-tailers. 

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