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Siddhartha Gautama, most commonly referred to as the Buddha ('the awakened'), was a wandering ascetic and religious teacher who lived in South Asia during the 6th or 5th century BCE and founded Buddhism.
c. 563 BCE or 480 BCE
|c. 483 BCE or 400 BCE (aged 80)
|Cremated; ashes divided among followers
Shakyamuni ("Sage of the Shakyas")
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According to Buddhist tradition, he was born in Lumbini, in what is now Nepal, to royal parents of the Shakya clan, but renounced his home life to live as a wandering ascetic (Sanskrit: śramaṇa). After leading a life of mendicancy, asceticism, and meditation, he attained enlightenment at Bodh Gaya in what is now India. The Buddha thereafter wandered through the lower Indo-Gangetic Plain, teaching and building a monastic order. He taught a Middle Way between sensual indulgence and severe asceticism, leading to Nirvana, that is, freedom from ignorance, craving, rebirth, and suffering. His teachings are summarized in the Noble Eightfold Path, a training of the mind that includes ethical training and kindness toward others, and meditative practices such as sense restraint, mindfulness, and jhana/dhyana (meditation proper). He died in Kushinagar, attaining parinirvana. The Buddha has since been venerated by numerous religions and communities across Asia.
A couple of centuries after his death, he came to be known by the title Buddha, which means 'Awakened One' or 'Enlightened One'. His teachings were compiled by the Buddhist community in the Vinaya, his codes for monastic practice, and the Sutta Piṭaka, a compilation of teachings based on his discourses. These were passed down in Middle Indo-Aryan dialects through an oral tradition. Later generations composed additional texts, such as systematic treatises known as Abhidharma, biographies of the Buddha, collections of stories about his past lives known as Jataka tales, and additional discourses, i.e., the Mahayana sutras.
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