Buddha was a legendary prince or the son of a nobleman, who founded a major world religion around the 5th century B.C. The word buddha is Sanskrit for 'awakened one'.
The Buddha was known as Siddharta Gautama, son of Suddhodana, the head of the Sakya tribe and a member of the clan of Gautama. Prince Siddharta was born in what is now Nepal, in Lumbini, in a petty state that was subordinate to the Magadha kingdom in India. At 29 Siddharta renounced his family and station and set out on a spiritual journey of abstinence and contemplation. When that failed, he sat down under a ficus tree (in modern Bodhgaya, in the Indian state of Bihar). There he meditated until he achieved enlightenment or Bodhi. He then taught followers what he had learned. This became the doctrine of Buddhism.
Dates of the man are debated. Did he live as late as King Ashoka, the man who spread Buddhism in Asia or earlier, as the legends suggest? Archaeologists have a bit of evidence in support of an early date: New Clues May Change Buddha’s Date of Birth
See The 8-Fold Path
"Buddhas and Bodhisats," by B. A. de V. Bailey. Parnassus, Vol. 12, No. 2 (Feb., 1940), pp. 26-30+51.
"An Introduction to Buddhist Archaeology," by Gina L. Barnes. World Archaeology, Vol. 27, No. 2, Buddhist Archaeology (Oct., 1995), pp. 165-182.
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