The birth of Pince Siddharth was a significant event in the history of mankind. He was born in 563 B.C. to King Suddhodana and Queen Maya in the royal grove of Lumbini between Devadaha and Kapilvastu.
The royal family belonged to the Gautama Gothra of the Sakya clan of the solar race. Their kingdom Kapilvastu was between the Nepalese foothills and the river Raptu. The Shakayas were priestly-warriors, wealthy knights and landowners.
On the fifth day of the birth of the prince, the naming ceremonies were performed and it was predicted that the newly born was destined to be either a universal monarch or a supreme enlightened one, a Buddha. King was shocked by this prediction and enquired, "What will my son see that will be the occasion of his forsaking the household life?" The soothsayers said, "Four signs" and described them as "a man worn by age, a sick man, a dead body and a hermit".
The King provided his son with all luxuries, and ensured a comfortable and pleasure-filled childhood with the best education. He took special care to protect him from any negative sight. In his youth, Prince Siddhartha married Princess Yasodhara. She bore him a son. But all these worldly ties were not able to stop him from forfeiting worldly pleasures.
During one of his few excursions, Siddhartha saw four things, which opened his eyes towards the harsh realities of life. He saw an old man suffering from the frailties of age, a sick man suffering from disease, a beggar suffering from hunger and he saw a dead body. All these events affected him immensely and Siddhartha finally came to the conclusion that nothing is permanent in life. The infirmities of old age, the pangs of hunger, the pain of sickness and end of life brought sufferings that he had never experienced. All these events in his life forced him to search for truth that eventually changed his life.
At the age of twenty-nine, he left his home in search of the answers to his questions, leaving behind his wife and son, his father and a crown that held the promises of power and glory. After leaving his homeland, Siddhartha made his way to the hermitage of renowned sages of that time. But found these teachers' range of knowledge was insufficient to grant him that which was still unknown to him. He followed the path of self-mortification and went on testing the truth of it for six years but could not attain his desired goal.
Self-mortification could not lead to his desired aim. He came to death's door and realized the utter futility of self-mortification. He gave up self-torture, extreme fasting and began to take nourishing food. Gradually he regained strength and his original appearance. Then began an intense meditation program until he came to know about the absolute truth. He meditated under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya. At the end of his meditation, in just one night (C. 528 B.C.), Siddhartha came to know about all his previous lives and the truth about cycle of birth and rebirth and how to end the cycle of infinite sorrow. Siddhartha became the "Buddha" or "awakened one".
After two months the Buddha decided to impart knowledge and enlightenment to others. The first sermon of Buddha was held at the deer garden in Banaras. Buddha called his teachings "the Middle Way" because it was midway between asceticism and indulgence. His "Four Noble Truths", which are the foundation of all Buddhist beliefs, are:
1.All human life is suffering.
2.All suffering is caused by human desire
3.An end of human desire is the end of human sufferings.
4.An end to all the desire can be achieved by following the "Eightfold Noble Path".
The Eightfold Noble Path is:
For the next forty-five years after his enlightenment, he taught as the Buddha or "Shakyamuni" (the sage of the Shakaya). Buddha established an order of monks called the Sangha.
The Buddha attained Parinibbana (freedom from the cycle of birth and death) at the age of eighty.