SIX YEARS OF STRGGLE (Part_14)
After leaving Magadha, Siddhartha reached the forest where the wise men lived. He first studied with Arada and then with Udraka. In a short period, he mastered all that they had to teach him but he was still not satisfied. “My teachers are holy people but what I have learnt from them does not bring an end to all pain, ” he thought. So he resumed the search on his own.
Continuing his travels, he reached Nairangana River, which was situated near Gaya. He crossed the river and entered the forests on the other side, There, he came across a group of five man with extremely simple lives. They did not eat much food, lived out in the open and sat absolutely still for many hours each day. He asked the men why they did such agonizing things to their bodies.
They replied that though most people looked after their bodies very tenderly, yet they went through pain and anguish. They felt that if they learnt how to overcome pain, they would find the way to control all suffering. Siddhartha thought over their answer and he felt that may be the men were right and he decided to join in their practices and see if they would lead to the end of suffering.
So, he also started that complicated and painful practices. He sat for hours together at the same place. Even though his legs and back pained, he never moved a muscle. He let himself be burnt by the intense summer sun and frozen by the winter winds. He consumed very little food. The men were astonished at Siddhartha’ s resolve. They felt that Siddhartha would be the one to excel in those practices and wanted to be near him, so that when Siddhartha would find the true path, they would from him.
Siddhartha went through a lot of pain physically but he did not quit. At the beginning, he would sleep only for a few hours every night, eventually he gave up sleeping. He even stopped taking the one meal he used to eat and berries that the wind blew into his lap. He lost a lot of weight and became very dirty. In time, he looked like a living skeleton.
Six long years passed without any food, sleep, shelter or decent clothing and Siddhartha was thirty-five now. One day ,he wondered whether he was any nearer to his goal than he was six years back. He still not learned how to put an end to suffering. He could now see that it was a mistake to have punished his body and also to have wasted so much time in the palace. He decided that to find the truth one must follow a middle path between too much pleasure and too much pain.
He thought back to the time, when many years ago after having seen the dead men, he had meditated under a rose apple tree. After that meditation , his mind had become very serene and peaceful and he could see things clearly for the first time. He decided to meditate like that again.
He looked at himself and found that he had become very tired, dirty and weak; his bones were jutting out through his skin. He reflected that when he could not think clearly because he was so hungry and dirty, how could he meditate. So he slowly lifted himself and went to take a bath in the river. However, he was so weak that he fell in and was almost drowned. With a great effort, he just managed to drag himself to the shore. Then he sat for a while, resting.
The Luminous Life of Buddha ( မဟာလူသား မြတ်ဗုဒ္ဓ ) Edited by SHYAM DUA TINYTOT Publication