Gautama, The Buddha, was born in the year 566 B.C. at Kapilavastu in what is now the state of Nepal. His given name was Siddhartha, which means “He who has attained his aim.” His father, a wealthy king of the Shakya Clan, made elaborate arrangements to see that his son lacked nothing. The finest sages, soldiers, and athletes were summoned to the palace to guide his physical and mental education. He is acquainted with nothing but youth and beauty. In intellect and physical prowess, the young prince showed remarkable skill of mastery. At 19 years of age, he married one of the fairest maidens in the land, Princess Yashodara, who soon born him a son, whom they named Rahula. The life of the royal family was spent in luxurious comfort and happiness.
But from time-to-time the Prince and his retinue would leave the palace gates and go out into the “real” world. From those outings he was repeatedly shocked by seeing his people suffering from the pains of birth, ageing, illness and death. All of this left a deep impression on the Prince. He was troubled by both the pain suffered by his people as well as the question of why does his people suffer at all.
So in spite of his lavish surroundings, the prince felt a deep despair and a need. He felt that he need to go out to seek the Light of Truth. So, one night, leaving his sleeping wife and child, he silently set out into the still Indian night, determined to find salvation for himself and his fellow men. He was then 29 years of age.
For six years he mingled with ascetics and hermits, practicing their difficult methods and subjecting his body to the severest disciplines and self denial. He soon realized that these extreme forms of asceticism led one nowhere. He discovered that the middle way is the truest path to enlightenment – which, when properly practiced, will patiently and systematically examine all aspects of life, leading to discoveries of the solutions to the sufferings of mankind.
One day, after searching for six years, as he sat meditating under a Bodhi Tree, there developed in him a deep and thorough insight into the nature of existence. He had thus, in one leap, become The Buddha, The Fully Enlightened One.