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Fasting Buddha The Hungry Buddha

The young prince Siddhartha left his palace in search of enlightenment and practiced for the next six years, Siddhartha wandered through the countryside studying with six teachers and practicing severe austerities. Towards the end of this period, surviving only on a single grain of rice a day, Siddhartha was reduced to skin and bones. This stage of Buddha is known as Fasting Buddha. Then, while he was fasting in the mountains he realized that severe fasting would lead him to death rather than enlightenment. Thus he decided to adopt the middle path between the extremes of luxury which he had known in his youth and the extremes of austerities which he was currently following. Then, giving up his penance, he went to the town where he was offered food by a young woman named Sujatha; Sujatha offered him a golden bowl of gruel. Accepting the gift, Siddhartha goes to the bank of the Nairanjana River, bathes and exchanges clothes with a corpse (a corpse is traditionally wrapped in a clean, often new, shroud). Siddhartha then divided the gruel into fifty balls, ate one of them and put the others away in the folds of his garment. Siddhartha then placed the golden bowl in the river and declared that if the bowl floated upstream it would mean that he would attain enlightenment on that very day. The bowl floated upstream, sank some distance away, landing along with the bowls of the previous Buddhas. Taking this to be an affirmation of his goal, Siddhartha crossed the river and approached the Bodhimanda, or place of enlightenment at Bodh Gaya. Ultimately Siddhartha attained enlightenment at the age of thirty five and became known as the Buddha - "The enlightened one".


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