Gautam Buddha was born in a Kshatriya (warrior caste) family at Kapilvastu on the slopes of the Himalayas. He came from the family of Rajahs and enjoyed all the luxuries available to the rich man of those times. But he was distressed by the sight of human beings fighting among themselves and struggling for life like fish in shallow waters; he was frightened and disgusted by the behaviour of the worldly people, and he left his young wife, a new-born child and parents to find out the cause of suffering in the world. For six years he wandered from place to place, vainly seeking enlightenment from one teacher after another. He tried various methods of penance and religious exercises that were current in his time. But all that was to no avail.

One day while sitting in meditation under a Asvattha tree, enlightenment came to him. He discovered the four noble truths: (i) that there was great suffering in this world. (ii) that the desire or craving was the cause of suffering. (iii) that it was possible to end the suffering and finally (iv) the way to end the suffering was to follow the eight fold path,