Siddhartha Gautama - The Buddha
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'.
Siddhartha Gautama was born around the year 580 BCE in the village of Lumbini in present-day Nepal.
He was born into a royal family, and his privileged life insulated him from the sufferings of life; sufferings such as sickness, age and death.
One day, after growing up, marrying and having a child, Siddhartha went outside the royal enclosure where he lived. When he went outside he saw, each for the first time, an old man, a sick man, and a corpse.
This greatly disturbed him, and he learned that sickness, age, and death were the inevitable fate of human beings - a fate no-one could avoid.
Siddhartha had also seen a monk, and he decided this was a sign that he should leave his protected royal life and live as a homeless holy man.
Siddhartha's travels showed him much more of the suffering of the world.
The Buddha also practiced meditation to try and escape from the world of suffering; he followed this for 6 years.
He abandoned the strict lifestyle of self-denial and ascetism, but did not return to the pampered luxury of his early life.
Instead, he pursued a life living in neither luxury nor poverty.
One day, seated beneath the Bodhi tree (the tree of awakening) Siddhartha became deeply absorbed in meditation, and reflected on his experience of life, determined to penetrate its truth.
He finally achieved Enlightenment and became the Buddha.
Buddha set in motion the wheel of teaching: rather than worshipping one god or gods, Buddhism centers around the timeless importance of the teaching, or the dharma.
For the next 45 years of his life the Buddha taught many disciples, who became Arahants or 'noble ones', who had attained Enlightenment for themselves.
He passed away when he was about 80 at Kushinara