Siddhartha Gautama, most commonly referred to as The Buddha, was a śramaṇa (wandering ascetic) and religious teacher who lived during the 6th or 5th century BCE in South Asia. He was the founder of Buddhism and is revered by Buddhists as a fully awakened being who taught a path to Nirvana (lit. vanishing or extinguishing), that is, freedom from ignorance, craving, rebirth and suffering.
According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha was born in Lumbini in what is now Nepal, to royal parents of the Shakya clan, but renunciated his home life to live as a wandering ascetic. Leading a life of begging, asceticism, and meditation, he attained enlightenment at Bodh Gaya in what is now India, gaining liberating insight into the workings of the cycle of rebirth and how it can be escaped. The Buddha thereafter wandered through the lower Gangetic plain, teaching and building a monastic order. He taught a Middle Way between sensual indulgence and severe asceticism, a training of the mind that included ethical training and meditative practices such as effort, mindfulness, and jhana. He died in Kushinagar, attaining paranirvana. 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 Suttas, texts 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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