It is said that history is shaped by the lives of great men. Great men are leaders. They bring about change; they improve the lives of others; they introduce new ideas, models, and theories to society. Most of the world's religions were founded, developed, or discovered by great men. Two particular religions - Christianity and Buddhism - developed in different parts of the world, under different circumstances, and in different social atmospheres. But each religion is based upon the teachings of a great man. When one compares the life of Buddha with the life of Jesus, one finds that the two share many things in common. This essay aims to compare and contrast the lives of Buddha1 ...view middle of the document...
6 The transparency of Maya's womb is another interesting feature. It is said that while in the womb, "the mother could see the Bodhisattva within her, as plainly as one could see the thread passing through a transparent gem."7 Some later accounts even suggest that Maya's womb was transformed into a jewelled palace for the Buddha.8 In these accounts, the gods wished to protect the Buddha from the defilement of his mother's womb; so they wrapped him in a garment of gold, and provided him with a soft pillow to recline on. It is also narrated that Maya carried the Buddha for ten months before she gave birth.
After waking up from her dream, Maya informed her husband the king. When the king learned of the dream, he summoned sixty-four priests of the highest order. After feasting, the king related Maya's dream to the priest, hoping for an interpretation. The elephant prophecy was well known to the Hindu priests. According to their texts, Brahma had said: "A woman who dreams of a white elephant entering her womb will give birth to a being as select as an elephant."9 From this, they concluded that Maya had conceived the Buddha. When the priests heard of the queen's dream, they answered:
O King, do not be anxious. The queen has this day conceived, and the embryo is not a female, but a male; he is not of the inferior or middle classes, but is of superior glory. If what is conceived of the queen shall remain among men, he will be king and rule ... but if he is a priest he will verily become the Buddha.10
The earliest accounts of Jesus' life are found in the gospels, those according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Of these four, the gospel according to Mark is considered the oldest, dating back to (approximately) 94 CE. All four gospels agree that Jesus' conception was miraculous. Luke writes that the archangel Gabriel informed Mary (Jesus' mother) that she would give birth to a child while still a virgin. The Gospel According to Luke relates the following verses:
And the angel said unto her: Fear not, Mary: for you have found favour with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS...And behold [O Mary], thou shalt be called the son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. [Gospel According to Luke: 26-33] 11
At first, Mary was sceptical. "How can I have a child when no one has touched me?" she asked. But the angel Gabriel responded, "Even so the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the Power of the highest shall overshadow thee." Through this, Mary conceded and the miraculous conception took place.
Mary returned to Joseph bearing signs of pregnancy. Upon noticing this, Joseph her fiancée, became afraid that Mary had committed fornication. He had no idea how the child was conceived, and worried that it was...