The Buddha (more specifically, the Sakyamuni Buddha) is the greatest being ever to have existed in the history of mankind. Born as Prince Siddhattha Gotama, heir to the throne of the ‘Sakya Clan’ in 623 BCE, He relinquished the luxuries of royalty and went forth in search of the true meaning of existence when he was 29 years old.
After six years of intense striving, unaided and unguided by any supernatural power, and relying only on His strong conviction, energetic effort, and accumulated wisdom, He became the Buddha – the Self-Enlightened and Fully-Awakened One. He had completely understood the unsatisfactory conditions in life, and moreover, He knew the practical way out of this mass of suffering.
For the rest of His life, He taught that which is necessary for beings to undertake in order to be free from ignorance and attain Enlightenment themselves. He established the Sangha, the community of His disciples, together with training rules conducive to their spiritual cultivation. This includes the Bhikkhuni order of female monastics, upon the resolute request of His maternal aunt and step-mother, Mahapajapatī Gotamī.
He was supported by Kings, Queens, noblemen and the common folk, to whom He taught the wholesome ways of the householders’ life. Many lay people, including His father King Suddhodana, realised the Dhamma at various levels. There are also many accounts of Him teaching heavenly beings at their behest. His compassion for all sentient beings is unsurpassed and His teachings, the Dhamma, are still available to us today within the Pāli Canon, known as the Tipitaka.