The name of Gautama Buddha has enriched the history of Indian more than any other name. The founder of the largest religion on earth, he was the only man in history to be regarded as God by a larger part of mankind.
Gautama was born in the Kshatriya Sakya clan of he state of Kapilavastu, situated in the Tarain region of modern Nepal. The exact place of his birth was the garden of Lumbini-Grama near the city of Kapilavastu. At a much later date, Emperor Ashoka Maurya erected the famous Rummindei pillar at the place to make it ever memorable. Lumbini is now known as Rummindei or Rupandehi.
Gautama was the son of the Sakya chief of Kapilavastu, Suddhodana. His mother was Maya Devi who died seven days after the birth of her son. The child thereupon was nursed by his stepmother and mother’s sister, Mahaprajapati Gautami. According to her name, the child was named as Gautama. The family also belonged to the Gautama gotra. Another name of Gautama was Siddhartha.
The exact dates of the birth and death of Gautama Buddha are not yet definitely known to history, though it is known for certain that he lived a life of 80 years.
There are two theories about these dates, supported by arguments.
- According to a calculation derived from the Sinhalese tradition, Buddha was born in 623 B.C. and died in 543 B.C. at the age of eighty. These dates are supported by some historical evidences.
- But, by another calculation derived from the established dates of Asoka’s life, the dates of Buddha are seen to be different from the above noted dates. According to this calculation, the coronation of Asoka took place 218 years after the death of Buddha. The established dates of Asoka show that he came to the throne in 273 B.C. and was coronated after four years in 269 B.C. if Buddha had died 218 year before Asoka’s coronation, the date of Buddha’s death falls in 487 B.C. and his date of birth thus comes to 567 B.C.
These dates are supported by another historical evidence of great value. At Canton, a dot was put on a record for each year after the death of Buddha. This was continued till the year 489 A.D. the total number of the Canton Dots is seen to be 975. When the number of years of the Christian Era, namely, 489 is taken out from the total number of dots, that is, 975, it brings the number 486. Thus, according to the calculation from the famous Canton dots, the date of the death of Buddha falls in 486 or 487 B.C.
Thus, from view point of Asoka’s coronation date and the Canton Dots, the year of birth of Buddha may be taken as 566 or 567 B.C. and the year of death as 486 or 487 B.C.