Siddhattha Gotama was born into a royal family in present-day Nepal about 2,500 years ago. As the only son of the King, he lived a life of privilege and luxury surrounded by riches. However, even as a youth he realized that he would get no lasting satisfaction from such a lifestyle. At the age of 29, he left the royal enclosure and encountered for the first time, an old man, a sick man, and a corpse. And then finally he saw a calm and dignified hermit. From this experience he decided to forgo his luxurious lifestyle. He left his wife and child in the good hands of the royal family to seek the answers to lasting happiness. He became a monk adopting the harsh poverty of Indian asceticism. After 6 years of wandering and severe ascetic practices, he realized that neither a decadent lifestyle nor extreme asceticism would lead him to the answers he sought.
He decided to pursue “The Middle Way” between these two extremes. He then settled down under a Bodhi tree (the tree of awakening), relaxed, had a good meal and entered into deep meditation. As he meditated and reflected on his experience of life, full understanding came to him. By finding the path to enlightenment, Siddhartha was led from the pain of suffering and rebirth towards the path of enlightenment and became known as the Buddha or 'Awakened One'.
The Buddha then spent the next 45 years of his life teaching what he finally came to understand. He founded a community of monks known as the Sangha, and Buddhism spread throughout northern India. Kings, nobles, merchants and peasants became his disciples and followers, and even now countless people everywhere benefit from his Teachings.
He passed away peacefully into final Nibbana at the age of 80.