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Buddhism founded in the late 6th century BCE by Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha is an important religion in most of the countries of Asia Buddhism has assumed many different forms but in each case there has been an attempt to draw from the life experiences of the Buddha his teachings and the spirit or essence of his teachings called dhamma or dharma as models for the religious life However not until the writing of the Buaciha Charija life of the Buddha by Ashvaghosa in the 1st or 2nd century CE do we have a comprehensive account of his life The Buddha was born in North India ca 563 BCE at a place called Lumbini near the Himalayan foothills and he began teach in around Benares at Sarnath His era in general was one of spiritual intellectual and social ferment This was the age when the Hindu ideal of renunciation of family and social life by holy persons seeking Truth first became widespread Siddhartha Gautama was the warrior son of a king and queen According to legend at his birth a soothsayer predicted that he might become a renouncer withdrawing from the temporal life To prevent this his father provided him with many luxuries and pleasures But as a young man he once went on a series of four chariot rides where he first saw the more severe forms of human suffering old age illness and death a corpse as well as an ascetic renouncer The contrast between his life and this human suffering made him realize that all the pleasures on earth were in fact transitory and could only mask human suffering Leaving his wife and new son Rahula--fetter he took on several teachers and tried severe renunciation in the forest until the point of near-starvation Finally realizing that this too was only adding more suffering he ate food and sat down beneath a tree to meditate By morning or some say six months later
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