Gautama Buddha

Buddha, (Sanskrit: “Awakened One”) Gautama or (Pali) Gotama, personal name (Sanskrit) Siddhartha or (Pali) Siddhattha, (born c. 6th–4th century BCE, Lumbini, near Kapilavastu, Shakya republic, Kosala kingdom [now in Nepal]—died, Kusinara, Malla republic, Magadha kingdom [now Kasia, India]), the founder of Buddhism, one of the major religions and philosophical systems of southern and eastern Asia and of the world. Buddha is one of the many epithets of a teacher who lived in northern India sometime between the 6th and the 4th century before the Common Era.

The Buddha was born into an aristocratic family in the Shakya clan, but renounced lay life. According to Buddhist tradition, after several years of mendicancy, meditation, and asceticism, he awakened to understand the workings of the cycle of rebirth and how it can be escaped. The Buddha then travelled in the lower Gangetic plain, teaching and building a religious community. The Buddha taught a middle way between sensual indulgence and the severe asceticism found in the Indian śrama a movement. He taught a training of the mind that included ethical training, self-restraint and meditative practices such as jhana and mindfulness. The Buddha also critiqued the practices of Brahmin priests, such as animal sacrifice and the caste system.

His followers, known as Buddhists, propagated the religion that is known today as Buddhism. The title buddha was used by a number of religious groups in ancient India and had a range of meanings, but it came to be associated most strongly with the tradition of Buddhism and to mean an enlightened being, one who has awakened from the sleep of ignorance and achieved freedom from suffering. According to the various traditions of Buddhism, there have been buddhas in the past and there will be buddhas in the future. Some forms of Buddhism hold that there is only one buddha for each historical age; others hold that all beings will eventually become buddhas because they possess the buddha nature (tathagatagarbha).

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