To date, many versions of the life of Buddha have been written. The "Enlightenment of the Buddha" is yet another example of truth turning into fiction through subsequent retelling and embellishment. Although it is difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction, a story that has survived for over 2500 years must contain some portion of fact. But do the facts inspire or is it how the story is told?
Approximately 500 – 600 years after the death of the Buddha, the Buddha-Karita ("Acts of the Buddha"), from which the "Enlightenment of the Buddha" has been reworked, was originally written by the Indian poet, Ashvaghosha. Although a consensus has not yet been reached, it is believed he lived sometime between AD 50 - 150. It is documented that he became the spiritual counselor for the court of Kanishka, a Buddhist emperor of the Kushana dynasty, after the defeat of Pataliputra. . Kanishka is mostly remembered for convening the fourth great Buddhist council in Kashmir, which was organized by Ashvaghosha; this marked the beginning of pantheistic Mahayana Buddhism.
Ashvaghosha was born into a Brahmin family not in the predominantly Buddhist northern India. Although he did not start out being Buddhist, Ashvaghosha became a tru
Buddha, himself, did not write about his experiences. He left his home and family and walked away from everything that he had known for the past 29 years. We know that his thoughts and teachings are now a way of life for a great many people all over the world. Embellishment and variation is the reason why the teachings have lasted for centuries and why they have been translated into hundreds of languages. During this training period, Ashvaghosha read a Buddhist text in which his conversion and destiny were prophesized by the Buddha himself. As a highly intelligent man, his Brahminical beliefs led him to debate the virtues of Buddhism with anyone who would dare. He entered a trance-like state and had an epiphany summarized as: All people are born; all people die; and all people suffer on the path from birth to death. With such accomplishments and his great belief in Buddhism, it is possible that in writing the Buddha-Karita, he would have used his writing prowess to enhance what could have been an otherwise dry reading into something of a legend. "Enlightenment of the Buddha" is just another translation of the original scripture. In addition to writing, it is thought that he also composed musical scores. Seeking just the truth would take away from the content of the teachings. Can anyone truly attain "a state of all knowledge" Is "nirvana" truly a state of mind for the living For 45 years, the Buddha taught what he believed and other's believed in him; those who believed followed him and his teachings, for centuries. In deciding what is fact and what is fiction, we must look at the author himself. Ashvaghosha accepted those terms and allowed for Parshva to ask the first question. Assailed with the reality of death, old age, disease and poverty, he became disturbed.