Siddhārtha Gautama was born in the 6th century B.C.E. in Lumbini, modern day Nepal. His father was King Śuddhodana of the Śākya Clan, and his mother was Maya Devi. The night Queen Maya got pregnant, she dreamed of a white elephant entering her womb. After ten lunar months, while in Lumbini, she started feeling the pains of childbirth.
Siddhārtha received birth in this world under the shadow of a tree, and immediately performed seven steps declaring:
Between Heaven and Earth, I am the most honoured one.
During the celebration of his birthday, a hermit named Asita visited the palace prophecising that Siddhārtha would become either a great king or a great saint. Five days later, eight brahmins were asked to divine the future of the baby. They all repeated the prophecy of the hermit but only one foresaw that the newborn prince would eventually become a Buddha.
King Śuddhodana provided Prince Siddhārtha with a life of luxury and sensual pleasures in order to ensure that someday his son would inherit the kingdom. When 16 years old, Siddhārtha married Yasodharā and she soon gave birth to a son, Rāhula. Until the age of 29, everything was perfect and the King made sure his son would never encounter the sufferings of the common world.
Suddenly, one day, Siddhārtha decided to meet the people of his kingdom. King Śuddhodana tried to remove all the elders and the sick from common sight but Prince Siddhārtha soon witnessed the consequences of old age, sickness and death. Deeply devastated by the human condition, he resolved to find the way to liberation from suffering. The serene face of an ascetic he encountered during his trip outside the palace, persuaded him that the quest for Truth starts with renunciation.
After leaving the palace, Siddhārtha started studying the Vedas but could not find the answers he was seeking in them. He started performing austerities, attracting many other ascetics around him. He nearly reached the point of death, when he realised that extremes lead nowhere. After accepting rice and milk from a young woman called Sujātā, his disciples abandoned him.
Siddhārtha, isolated but still searching for ultimate deliverance, sat under a tree in Bodhgaya, vowing not to move until he found his answers. His meditation lasted for 49 days.
While in a state of deep concentration, Māra, the personification of temptation, appeared. Fearing that Siddhārtha was a threat to his power, he tried to stop him. Initially, he sent his beautiful daughters, symbolising carnal pleasures and avarice, but they failed. Then, he tried to terrify him but neither his monsters nor his arrows succeeded. Māra was defeated.
At dawn, Siddhārtha, aged 35, attained Enlightenmenet, becoming known as the Buddha. The deities bowed to the teacher of all, asking him to start sharing his realisation with the world.
After many years of wandering and teaching, the Buddha visited the home of his devotee, Cunda. There, he fell gravely ill and asked Ānanda and his other disciples to take him to the forest of Kushinagar where he peacefully entered Parinirvāṇa.