Who is Gautama Buddha ?
# Gautama Buddha was born on c. 563/480 and left his body to this earth on c. 483/400 BCE.
# He is also known as Siddhārtha Gautama, Shakyamuni Buddha or simply the Buddha, after the title of Buddha, was an ascetic (śramaṇa) and sage, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded.
# He is believed to have lived and taught mostly in the eastern part of ancient India sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE.
# Gautama taught a Middle Way between sensual indulgence and the severe asceticism found in the śramaṇa movement common in his region.
# He later taught throughout other regions of eastern India such as Magadha and Kosala.
# Gautama is the primary figure in Buddhism.
# He is recognized by Buddhists as an enlightened teacher who attained full Buddhahood and shared his insights to help sentient beings end rebirth and suffering.
# Accounts of his life, discourses and monastic rules are believed by Buddhists to have been summarized after his death and memorized by his followers.
# Various collections of teachings attributed to him were passed down by oral tradition and first committed to writing about 400 years later.
How old was Lord Buddha when he died?
Gautama Buddha was born on c. 563/480 and left his body to this earth on c. 483/400 BCE.
Was Buddha a vegetarian?
We don’t know. And like many religions, there is no consensus.
The Theravada school believes he ate whatever came his way as alms. Although there is no reference of him eating meat, according to Jivaka sutra he said, “Meat should not be eaten under three circumstances; when it is seen or heard or suspected that a living being has been purposely killed for the eater“. However, eating of humans, elephants, horses, dogs, snakes, lions, tigers, leopards, bears and hyenas was prohibited.
The Mahayana school believes he did not eat meat and he strongly advocated vegetarianism. According to Nirvana sutra, he said, “Eating of meat extinguishes the seed of great compassion.”
The cause of Buddha’s death could have given some clue, but even that isn’t agreed upon. He became ill after eating a meal at a blacksmith’s house. The meal could be pork or mushrooms. And he was in his eighties. For the case of non vegetarian alms, it is argued that the Laypeople (non monks) revered Buddha and his followers, and would not give meat as alms since Buddha did not like killing of animals.
So based on the common teachings of the Buddhist schools, we can only conclude that: He didn’t kill or let an animal be killed specifically for him to eat, gluttony was prohibited and humans, elephants, horses, dogs, snakes, lions, tigers, leopards, bears and hyenas were not eaten.
Anyways, before dying, lying under the Shala trees, Buddha asked the people if they had any questions. He asked three times, and they remained silent. He said-
“Everything that has been created is subject to death and decay.
Everything is transitory. Work out you own salvation with diligence”
Do Buddhists worship Buddha? Is he considered simply a human being and meaningful teacher, or something more akin to a God?
This is a very complicated question. If you insist on a one-word answer, then it is no—he is not worshiped as a god. However, many Western “Buddhists” have this idea that Buddhism was invented to lie in wait for them until the modern era when they could pick and choose some appealing things about its spirituality without incurring the usual mandates of a “religion.” Unfortunately, there is a tendency to treat Buddhism as merely a religion—which is to say, to ignore its contradiction of the one thing that most Westerners assume is meant by that term (the injunction to belief in metaphysical claims which are not disprovable)—or, to treat it as a dressed up form of materialism, custom-made for the woke ones who who liked the idea of spirituality but not the evangelism of the Gospels or the seemingly rigid and arbitrary laws of Leviticus. Buddhism has much more in common with Levantine religion then it does with materialism, and although the bodhisattva was not a god in the Levantine sense, it is not entirely correct that the Lord Buddha was just a man like you and me.
The Theravada school has a (relatively) more “down-to-earth” understanding of his life and ministry, and yet it is they who place him in a league wholly his own, pedestalize his achievement of Buddhahood as cosmically destined and virtually impossible for other ordinary mortals. The Mahayana greatly amplifies the mystical significance of the Buddha’s life and teaching, and yet in practical and spiritual terms places ordinary mortals much closer within reach of him, not least of which the possibility, even inevitability, of the ultimate realization of Buddhahood of all sentient beings. To some extent he is worshipped, but as a guide and a symbol, rather than an idol. His person blends amorphously into the “body” of the teachings, the community, and the destiny of mankind, which is more properly the object of worship than the historical man himself.
The significance of Hebrew invention of (the one and only one) God was precisely to emphasize the way in which He is not like us, which is a non-identical matter with the source of authority and guidance, the content of religious teachings and directives, and the manner as well as significance of worship. Though of course a great oversimplification, his status is closer to that of Jesus Christ to some Christian groups than the One God of Jews and Muslims. The significance of Jesus’ identity, and the meaning of his dual-status as human and divine, is perhaps not meant to be entirely understood with quite the confidence with which one understands a mathematical concept, and one might say the same is true for Shakyamuni. What is important is to heed his instructions, more than to understand exactly how it is he came to find himself endeavoring to save humanity and armed with the means to do so, to no readily apparent benefit to himself.