Why Is Buddha Important?

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Siddhartha Gautama, or Buddha, is the central figure and prophet of Buddhism. For the majority of his life, Buddha traveled and preached the Dharma. The Buddha's teachings grew into a prominent world religion.

While experts agree that Siddhartha Gautama did live in Nepal during the 6th to 4th century B.C., the stories of his life are undoubtedly affected by time and religious devotion. The actual history of the Buddha may not be known, but his life's story forms the foundation for the Buddhist religion. According to legend, Siddhartha Gautama spent the majority of his early life isolated from the world. His father attempted to keep him from seeing the pain and suffering of the world by keeping him cloistered in a palace. When Siddhartha was 29, he finally experienced the outside world and was shocked by the fear, death and suffering around him. He immediately left his kingdom to lead an ascetic life and seek a solution to the suffering of humanity. After studying for years with intense devotion, Siddhartha still did not have the answers he wanted. Then, after giving up the ascetic way of life, Siddhartha vowed to meditate until the answers were revealed to him. After days of meditation, the path to enlightenment came to him and he became the Buddha or "he who is awake." After his enlightenment, the Buddha sought to enlighten others and traveled the world teaching the Dharma which eventually led to the creation of Buddhism.