title given to the founder of a religion now called Buddhism.
He was born in the Sakyan clan in northern India and given
the name Siddattha meaning "He who achieves his aim".
His family name was Gotama and his father Suddhodana
is said to have been a king although he was probably
more like a clan chief. His mother, Maha Maya, died a few
days after his birth and he was brought up by his aunt Maha
Pajapati Gotami. Little is known about his early life beyond
that he was brought up in great luxury, married at an early
age and had one child, a son named Rahula. At the age of
30 he renounced the world to become a wandering monk, studied
with two teachers, leaving each in turn when he felt that
their doctrines were inadequate, and experimented with self-mortification.
Then at the age of 36 while meditating at the small village
of Uruvela he attained Nirvana after which he was known
as the Buddha, a title meaning "the Awakened One"
or the "Enlightened One". For 40 years the Buddha
travelled widely throughout the Ganges valley teaching his
Dharma and making disciples. Finally he passed away while
surrounded by many of his disciples in the village of Kusinara
in his eightieth year. His last words were" Now I say
to you: all conditioned things are impermanent, strive on
with heedfulness" (Vayadhamma sankhara. Appamadena
Saddhatissa,The Life of the Buddha. London, 1976.
M. Carithers, The Buddha. London, 1983
H.W. Schumann, The Historical Buddha. London, 1989.