|The Four Signs (smith.edu)|
He was born approximately 2,600 years ago into a royal family. Where is disputed, likely in what is now Afghanistan, on the northwest border of Gandhara, India. But earlier British archeological work determined it was Nepal, just north of India, and the controversy has been on ever since. (See ranajitpal.com).
Prince Siddhartha lived a protected and carefree life of luxury, until one day he came face to face with the harsh realities of life he had always been protected from seeing: old age, sickness, and death. (The fourth sign was the sight of renunciation offering a possibility of escape from certain suffering). It is believed that the devas (fairies) contrived it all, ensuring that he would eventually see these four momentous signs.
|The Buddha, wandering teacher (WQ)|
He would eventually discover the truth of suffering (disappointment) and how to bring about its end. He achieved enlightenment, a profound and irreversible awakening, under the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India.
And from that moment on he was known by the title "the Buddha." (See also the BBC documentary Life of the Buddha, which tells the story very well in less than 50 minutes. Here is a condensed collage version set to music that takes even less time).