Buddha (or Gautama Buddha) was born as Prince Siddhartha in about 563 BC. His father Suddhodana was the King of Kapilavastu. His mother, Mahamaya, gave birth to him in Lumbini village while returning to Kapilavastu. She died a week after the child's birth. The responsibility of bringing up the child fell on Prajapati Gautami, Siddhartha's step-mother.
From early childhood, Siddhartha showed a strong inclination towards philosophical problems such as soul, God, birth and death. Disliking his sonís ideas, Suddhodana had him married to a beautiful princess named Yashodara, to divert his attention to wordly matters. In due course, the couple had a son, Rahul. But eventually, Siddhartha returned to his philosophical thoughts. He had the opportunity of witnessing the sufferings of the people, the agony of death and the futility of desires. He decided to renounce the world to find the eternal truth. At the age of 29, Siddhartha left his wife and son, abandoned a life of luxuries and comforts of the palace and set out to find the mystery of birth and death. This event is known as the great renunciation.
Siddhartha went to two great teachers of his time, Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta. As he was not fully convinced by their teachings, Siddhartha left for Uravela jungles near
Gaya and spent six years in his quest. Legends say that impoverished due to self-starvation and on the brink of death, Siddhartha was revived by milk offered by a village girl called Sujata. He concluded that hunger and starvation was not the way to find truth. He renewed his search and finally in 531 BC, meditating under a peepal tree, at the age of 35, attained enlightenment. From that day Siddhartha became Buddha, the enlightened one and the tree came to be called the Bodhi tree.
In a deer park near Saranath, Buddha gave his first sermon and converted five people into
Buddhism, his first disciples, in the event now known as Dhanua Chakra Parivartana. He traveled widely preaching his philosophies and the royal families of Kapilavastu, Magadha and Kosala embraced Buddhism. Buddha passed away in
Kushinagar, around 487 BC, when he was 80 years old.