Siddhattha Gautama was born in Lumbini, Nepal in the year 560 BCE under the full moon of the sixth lunar month. His father was King Sudahodana and his mother was Queen Maya, who died seven days after his birth. He was raised by his aunt, the King's second wife. From his birth, holy men had high expectations for him, either becoming a great religious leader or a political leader who would unify India. His father, baring this in mind, kept him secluded from the outside world of suffering. At the age of sixteen, it was decided that Siddhattha would marry. A young girl named Yasodhara was chosen and the couple had their first child, a son named Rahula.
Not content with his rich and sheltered lifestyle, Saddhartha left home on the night of his 29th birthday. He escaped from the palace and saw the four signs of prophecy; a crippeled man, a sick man, a dead man, and a monk.
After seeing this, he set a quest to find how suffering came about in the world and how to overcome it. He accepted the life of a monk going from house to house living on what people gave him. In this time, he believed that the body and its needs got in the way of spiritual development. He starved and punished his body for about 6 years then realized that a life of balance was a better way to spirituality. After his few followers left him, he sat in meditation under a Bodhi tree where complete Enlightenment came to him and he now understood the cycle of life and death. He now became the "Buddha".
For the rest of his life (about 45 years), he completed his lifelong goal; to teach this cycle of life and death to all who would listen, rich or poor, man or woman. He founded an order of monks and accumulated enough money to build monasteries which provided his monks with permanent housing. After his death at age eighty he became worshaped as a God, and today, 2,500 years later, Buddism is one of the leading and growing religions in our world.
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