was born into a royal family in the Terai lowlands
near the foothills of the Himalayas just inside the borders of modern-day Nepal
around 6 BCE.
He was born the son of a Rajan (King, Chieftan) of the Sakya (Lion) clan of the
Kshatriya, or warrior caste in Kapikvastri on the Indian-Nepalese border.
Sakyamuni, means “the sage of the Sakyas”.
Accounts of his life were passed down by oral tradition and first written a few
hundred years after his death. Therefore, they are a great number of legends
that surround his birth and existence:
“Queen Maya (Sakyamuni‘s mother) was going to her father's home to
prepare for the birth with the help of her mother. She stepped off her chariot
in the Lumbini Gardens and held the branch of a flowering tree to rest. In that
instant, Siddhartha emerged from her right side without any help. The infant
walked seven steps each in four directions and lotus flowers sprouted from where
his foot touched the earth.
Seven days later Queen
It was predicted at Buddha birth that he would become either a world ruler or a
Therefore his father, King Suddhodana, who wished Siddhartha to succeed him as
ruler, tried his best to shelter him from all misery and anything that might
influence him toward the spiritual path.
At the age of 16, he was married to his wife Yasodhară.
four encounters (The four passing sights):
The scriptures relate that at the age of 29, wishing to see more of the world,
he left the palace grounds in his chariot escorted by his
He saw on successive excursions (Two): an old crippled
man, a sick man, a decaying corpse, and finally a wandering holy man.
From the first three of these sights he learned the inescapability of suffering
and death, and in the serenity of the monk he saw his destiny. That night,
Siddhartha silently kissed his sleeping wife and son (Rahula), and ordered
Channa to drive him out to the forest. He secretly left the palace and became a
realization of true reality and the achievement of Nirvana:
Siddhartha first studied yogic meditation under the teachers Alara Kalama and
Udraka Ramaputra, and after mastering their techniques, decided that these did
not lead to the highest realization.
He then undertook fasting and extreme austerities, variety of ascetic practices
designed to "mortify" the flesh (Janism). It was thought that by enduring pain
and suffering, the ātman (Sanskrit; Pāli: atta) or "soul" became free from the
round of rebirth into pain and sorrow.
Siddhartha proved adept at these practices, and was able to surpass his
teachers. Five other holy men joined him, hoping to learn from his example.
After six years he gave up, fearing that he might die, before attaining
illumination. Taking moderate food, he seated under a fig tree (Bo tree) at Bodh
Gaya, concentrated on meditation and the "middle way" (a practice of
non-extremism). He swore not to stir until he had attained the supreme
On the night of the full moon, Mara, “the evil one”, sent his three sons and
daughters to tempt Siddhartha with thirst, lust, discontent, distractions of
pleasure and fear.
Siddhartha in meditation recalled all his previous rebirths (reincarnation),
gained knowledge of the cycle of births and deaths, and with certainty, cast off
the ignorance and passion of his ego which bound him to the world.
After overcoming the attacks and temptations, he reached enlightenment,
becoming a Buddha at the age of 35. This enlightenment is called a state of
"Bodhi," and hence the name "Buddha," or "enlightened one."
The Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching the principles of Buddhism called
the Dhamma, or Truth. He also later established an order of monks and a
corresponding order of nuns. His wife Yasodhară became the first nun. He died at
the age of 80 in Kushinagara.
To some Buddha was simply a very wise man with great things to teach.
For others he is a god (as a Vishnu avatar), or as single entity above all