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Seated Buddha from Thailand tenth century
Seated Buddha

Buddha was a historical figure. He was the founder of the Buddhist religion, called Buddhism.

"Buddha" is a word in the Sanskrit language which means "Enlightened One". Buddhists believe many Buddhas have lived in the past and will live in the future.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Siddhartha Gautama lived in India sometime between the 6th and 4th century BCE. He was a prince who gave up his comfortable life of luxury to seek enlightenment (wisdom). He searched for seven years but did not find it. Then as he was meditating beneath a bodhi tree, he was enlightened. He found the "middle way" between extremes of behavior.

Buddha died at Kusinara and escaped the endless circle of rebirth and suffering.

In Western culture[edit | edit source]

In 1922, the German author Herman Hesse wrote a novel, Siddhartha: An Indian Poem. It tells of the title character who journeys in search of enlightenment at the time of Gautama Buddha, and the people he meets along the way. The book was translated to English in 1951 and became popular among young people for its message.

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