Prince Siddhattha Gotama was born in 623 BC. in the north of India (in an area which is in present-day Nepal). His father was King Suddhodana and his mother was Queen Maya.
Seven days after Prince Siddhattha was
born, Queen Maya passed away and the baby prince was then looked
after by his aunt, Pajapati. He was a very intelligent and compassionate
boy. At his naming ceremony, Brahmins predicted that he would
either become a world leader or a Buddha (Great Teacher).
Although he lived a luxurious life as a prince, he decided at the age of 29 to become an ascetic in search of a way leading to freedom from unsatisfactoriness (Dukkha). Leaving his wife and young son, he left the palace and practised Bhavana, mental development, for six years. He experimented with various spiritual practices and forms of meditation. Then on the full moon day of the Visakha month, when he was exactly 35 years old, he attained enlightenment and became the Buddha (The Enlightened One).
For 45 years after his enlightenment, he established an order of monks and another of nuns. He gave 84,000 sermons, discussions and talks. His followers came from all social and economic classes. There was no restriction by sex, age or caste.
The Buddha passed away at the age of 80, again at the time of the full moon in the month of Visakha.
In Thailand the years are reckoned from the time of the Buddha. This predates the Christian calendar by 543 years. So, if in the West it is 2001 A.D., in Thailand it is 2544 B.E.
Photograph by: Panrit Daoruang