Sakyamuni’s family name was Gautama while his given name was Siddhattha. He was the crowned princess of King Suddhodhana of Kingdom Kapilavastu in ancient northern India. With the local customs, his mother had to go back mother’s home to give birth of first son, and the newly born child could be taken back her husband’s home after the birth. When Sakyamuni Buddha was going to be born, his mother was hurry on the back way to mother’s home with her servants. Just stepping under the seven-leaves tree, the mother was going to give child birth. When the servants were very worried, there suddenly came a fragrant wind with many flowers and leaves spread on the earth like a blanket. With branches hanging down from the seven-leaves tree as a round tent,and three auspicious and colorful clouds from sky as a cover. In the auspicious surroundings, Sakyamuni was born. Sakyamuni Buddha left home for secular life to seek teachers in all around and had hard practices in mountains. After a long thinking of seven days under the Bodhi tree at his age of thirth-five, on 7th of December at the year he obtained supernatural power of knowing the past lifetimes of oneself and others in the early night, obtained supernatural power of divine vision in the midnight, obtained supernatural power of the complete extinction of afflictions after midnight. He became thoroughly enlightened with Buddhahood. Buddha, in Sanskrit, means a man who has awakened to the true nature of existence. As he came from the clan of Sakya, he was called Sakyamuni which means the sage of Sakya clan. Sakyamuni Buddha entered his nirvana under the seven-leaves as well, the posture in nirvana was inclined lying, like the inclined Buddha In Buddhist temples. The seven-leaves tree is regarded as a holy Buddhist tree by its connection with Buddha’s birth and nirvana and very popular in Buddhist temples.
Maitreya is a bodhisattava in Buddhism. According to the sutra, Maitreya is from southern India and became one of Skyamuni’s disciples later. Sakyamuni predicted Maitreya would succeed him as the Buddha of the future. After Maitreya obtained his Buddhahood, he raised to the Tusita Heaven to wait for succeeding of Buddha’s position after Sakyamuni entered into nirvana, so Maitreya is called the Buddha of Future. The Maitreya we have seen in chinese Buddhist temples is the image of venerable Qi Ci who was a monk in Fenghua, Zhejiang in Houliang Period of Five Dynasties. With his fatty head and big ears, exposing his breast and big belly, with smiling eyebrows and eyes, people call it the Big Belly Maitreya Buddha.