“The Plan to Discredit the Buddha”, an article by Dr. Leonel FernándezFebruary 23, 2015
Plots, intrigues, and warped machinations with the loathsome intent to defame and discredit are as old as the history of humanity itself. This is seen in the case of Siddhartha Gautama, that ancient sage whose teachings would become the basis of Buddhism.
Although biographical mentions of him are scarce, we at least know that Siddhartha was born some 500 years before Christ in the foothills of the Himalayas, in what is today Nepal. His family formed part
of a powerful caste. His father was King of a religious clan, and his mother also descended from royalty.
Thus from the moment of his birth Siddhartha was Crown Prince, and was educated as such by his father so that one day his son would succeed him to become the next monarch. To that end, based on the advice of a prophet, they even locked him away as a child in the royal palace, aiming to protect him from the suffering and bitterness of other mortals.
Nonetheless, at age 29, weary of his lifestyle and curious to learn what went on beyond the palace walls, he abandoned his family home, only to be met with three experiences that would change the rest of his life.
First he met an old man, with whom he discovered the horrors of old age; then a sick person, which let him to understand the pain of physical ailments; and finally, a cadaver, which inspired him with panic over death.
experiences, Siddhartha decided to renounce his family’s material wealth to seek the final objective of life and become an ascetic, that is, a person dedicated to the spiritual life.
He eventually came to live so frugally that he nearly died of starvation, leading him to the conclusion that to find awakening, the most appropriate method was the Middle Way between exuberant opulence and extreme misery, or between sensual complacency and rigorous
The birth of Buddhism
It was in this way that Siddhartha underwent a process of meditation for 49 days beneath a sacred fig tree, from which he would receive enlightenment to become the Buddha—in Sanscrit meaning precisely that: “Enlightened One.”
According to Buddhism, at the moment of his awakening, Siddhartha Gautama, the latest of the Buddhas, was able to fully comprehend the causes of
his suffering and the steps needed to eliminate it. These discoveries are known as the Four Truths, which comprise the core of Buddhist teachings.
Through the assimilation of these four truths, one reaches a state of supreme liberation, described by Siddhartha Gautama Buddha as perfect mental peace and freedom from ignorance, greed, hatred, and other afflictive states.
Armed with these concepts, he embarked with a group of monks on a missionary
adventure to teach the life of peace, brotherhood, and solidarity. He taught for forty-five years. Each day he covered between twenty-five and thirty kilometers through several towns and communities, bring them his words of encouragement.
As a consequence, he won the respect of multitudes. He was venerated, honored, and revered. Wherever he went, he was received with great distinction, and it’s said that great multitudes gathered to meet him and planted flowers
in his path.
Nevertheless, a group opposed to his values, ideas, and principles, identified as the heretics, were not much in agreement with the support received by Siddhartha Gautama Buddha. They harbored jealousies, resentments, and envy, and saw a constant increase in their numbers.
Eventually they decided to assassinate him. They planned that a group of four would go to his meeting place, and once there would physically eliminate him. Another group
of four would then arrive to kill the first, so no witnesses remained of what had occurred, then a third group would execute the second, and so on until all traces of the murder had disappeared.
But in fact when the first group arrived in the presence of the Buddha, they were unable to carry out the action. The men were petrified. They dare neither raise their arms, nor use their weapons. The homicide plan thus failed miserably.
Nonetheless, there was a
second attempt, this time with a savage elephant, which would be released to trample the Buddha and shred him alive. But the elephant, upon coming close to the Buddha, did nothing more than remain calm, disarmed by the kindness, tranquility, and peace of the Enlightened One.
Then came a third attempt. The aim was to drop an immense rock from the top of a cliff as Buddha passed below along the foot of the mountain. But as it fell the rock crashed into other stones until it
disintegrated into nothing but dust.
Once again, the Buddha came out unscathed. But the wrath of his adversaries only grew. Their fury grew uncontainable, above all due to the fact that the more damage they tried to do him, the more the Buddha’s strength grew, while their own numbers diminished.
It was then that they decided to change tactics. Rather than attempting to physically eliminate the Buddha, they would try to discredit him and
thereby liquidate him morally.
Discrediting the Buddha
To achieve this, they hired a prostitute named Sundari, whom they told: “You are a very beautiful and clever woman. We want you to embarrass the Buddha, making it appear that he is carnally involved with you. This will tarnish his image, and his followers will abandon him to come to us. Make good use of your figure.”
Sundari understood what they
were asking of her. That night she set off in the direction of the monastery. When they asked her where she was headed she answered: “I’m going to see the Buddha. I live with him in the perfumed chamber of the monastery.”
After saying that, she spent the night in the neighboring house. The following morning she returned home, and to all who asked she said: “I’m coming from the perfumed chamber of the monastery, where I
spent the night with the Buddha.”
She carried on like this for two days. And the end of the third, a group of ruffians were hired to murder her and hide the body in a dump near the monastery.
The heretics went before the king, feigning concern over the disappearance of the woman. He authorized them to search for her throughout the whole town. Knowing where to find the hidden body, they brought it before the monarch and told him:
“Your majesty, this woman was seen frequenting the company of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, and his followers have murdered her to hide the disgrace of their leader.”
The king then ordered that the crime and those who committed it be denounced before the entire town. The heretics passed through the community with the body laid out on a stretcher, while announcing that the Buddha was guilty of the woman’s death. As a result, the monks were
mistreated, insulted, and ignored by the townspeople.
One of the monks even suggested to the Buddha that they go to another town, to which the Buddha replied: “And if in the other town the treat us the same way?” The monk said: “Well, then we’ll go to another town that’s even further away.”
Shaking his head, the Buddha told him: “We must never run from our problems. We must face them
like an elephant trained to face arrows shot at him from all directions. The truth always comes to light, no matter how long it takes. Don’t worry, no one can damage your reputation for more than seven days.”
On the seventh day, the ruffians, who’d been made drunk on liquor bought with money from the heretics, confessed the crime they had committed, along with the identities of those who had sent them to do it.
sent for the heretics and ordered them to find the body of Sundari and carry it through the town, announcing that it was they who were guilty of her murder, as well as of trying to disgrace the honor of the Buddha and his followers.
From that moment, the Buddha’s reputation only grew, as did the number of his followers.