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He wandered for seven years and finally sat down under a peepal tree, where he vowed to stay until enlightenment came. Enlightened after seven days, he renamed the tree the Bodhi Tree (Tree of Wisdom) and began to teach and to share his new understandings. At that point he became known as the Buddha (the Awakened or the Enlightened). The Buddha preached his first sermon at the city of Benares, most holy of the dipping places on the River Ganges; that sermon has been preserved and is given here. It reflects the Buddha’s wisdom about one inscrutable kind of suffering.
Siddhartha abandoned his family and throne and spent seven years wandering the world in pursuit of the truth and a reason for why people suffer in this world. In general, the number seven has a high value in many religions. Seven is the number of ascents in Buddhism, and Buddha is supposed to have ascended seven steps at birth. Finally, he decided to stay under a Peepal tree until he had received all the answers to the queries he had been seeking all those years.
After seven days of continuous penance, Siddhartha attained enlightenment. Hence, he renamed the tree "Bodhi tree," which means "tree of awakening." As soon as Siddhartha began imparting the knowledge he had achieved to others, people began referring to him as the "Buddha," which means "an enlightened one" or "a knower." Buddha's first sermon was given in the city of Benares, where the sacred river Ganges resides.
His first sermon is still preserved and given in Benares even today. This sermon is supposed to reflect Buddha's understanding of the unexplained sufferings in the world.
Meaning of difficult words:
Enlightenment The state of having attained spiritual knowledge or insight
Sermon A talk or lecture on a religious or moral subject
Preserve Maintain something in its original state
Inscrutable Something difficult to understand
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2007). The Sermon at Benares - Betty Renshaw (pp. 133-139). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.