Gotama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, lived in Northern Indian in the 6th century B.C. His personal name was Siddhattha and family name Gotama. The name ‘Buddha’ was given to Him after He attained Enlightenment and realized the Truth. It means ‘Awakened’ or the ‘Enlightened One’.
He was born a prince who had everything. He had a luxurious upbringing, was heir to the throne, extremely handsome, and gifted.
Despite His splendid upbringing, the imperfections of life could not be concealed from this unusually inquisitive young man. Determined to find the way out of these universal sufferings, He decided to leave home to find the cure not for Himself only, but for all mankind.
At the age of 29, Prince Siddhattha left behind all his power, wealth and fame to search for an answer to life. For six long years, He laboured to find the Truth. He studied under the wisest philosophers of His time, learning all they had to offer. but was still unable to find any answer He was seeking. Siddhattha then struggled with the path of self-mortification, taking that practice to the extremes of asceticism, but to no avail.
Then at the age of 35, on a full moon night of May, He sat beneath the Bodhi tree and developed His mind in deep and luminous, tranquil meditation. Using the extraordinary clarity of such a mind, He realized the true nature of all life and all beings. Thus He gained the Supreme Enlightenment and from then on He was known as the Buddha, the Awakened One.
His Enlightenment consists of the most profound insight into the nature of mind and all phenomena. This Enlightenment was not a revelation from some divine being, but a discovery made by the Himself based on the deepest levels of meditation and the clearest experience of the mind.
For nearly half a century, the Buddha walked on the dusty paths of India teaching the Dhamma, the Truth He has realised. He founded an order of monks and nuns, challenged the caste system, raised the status of women, taught religious freedom and free inquiry, opened the gates of deliverance to all, in every condition of life, high or low, saint or sinner, and ennobled the lives of criminals, courtesans, beggars and slaves.
For the first time in history, He gave men the power to think for themselves, raised the worth of mankind, and showed that man can reach to the highest knowledge and Supreme Enlightenment by his own efforts.