Gautama Buddha or Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. The word Buddha is a title for the first awakened being in an era. In most Buddhist traditions, Siddhartha Gautama is regarded as the Supreme Buddha of our age, "Buddha" meaning "awakened one" or "the enlightened one." Gautama Buddha may also be referred to as Śākyamuni . The Buddha found a Middle Way that ameliorated the extreme asceticism found in the Sramana religions.
Siddhartha, who later became known as the 'Buddha - or The Enlightened One' was a prince, who forsook the comforts of a palace to seek enlightenment. He realised the essential unreality of the world, in the bliss of nirvana and spent the remainder of his life teaching others how to escape the endless cycle of birth and death.
Buddha was born approximately 400 BC. He was born in a palace with all the comforts and luxuries possible. Growing up a young noble prince, it is said his father sought to shield the young prince Siddhartha from the pain and suffering of the world.
However, at one point, Buddha sought to find a greater meaning to life. So, in disguise, he left the Palace and wandered around the Kingdom. Here, Siddhartha came across, death, old age, illness and suffering. This showed him the transitory nature of life, so he resolved to seek the meaning of life.
Siddhartha resolved to give up worldly comforts and seek enlightenment amongst the ascetics of the forest. He left the Palace, leaving behind his wife and child, to travel into the forests to spend his time meditating with other ascetics.
In his quest for enlightenment, the Buddha fasted excessively so his body wasted away; however, enlightenment remained a far cry. At one point, a passing women gave him some food to eat and the Buddha realized it was a mistake to seek enlightenment by torturing the body. He regained his strength and resolved to follow a 'middle path' of avoiding excesses of fasting and feasting.
On one day, the Buddha decided to sit under a Bodhi tree until he attained enlightenment. For several days, he sat in meditation seeking nirvana. He was tested by various forces which tried to prevent him realizing the goal.
However, the Buddha was successful and entered in the blissful consciousness of nirvana for several days. On returning to normal consciousness, The Buddha made the decision to spend the remainder of his life teaching others how to escape the inherent suffering of life.
For many years, the Buddha travelled around India, especially around the Ganges plain and in Nepal, teaching his philosophy of liberation. His teachings were transmitted orally and not written down until many years after his death.