Siddhārtha Gautama, most commonly referred to as the Buddha, was born around 564 BC, in Lumbini Province, Nepal. His father was the king of the Sakya clan. King Śuddhodana called upon eight Brahmins to predict his son's future. While seven of them declared that the prince would either be a Buddha or a great king, the Brahmin Kaundinya was confident that he would become a Buddha.
Śuddhodana, who was determined that his son should be a great king, confined the prince within the palace and surrounded him with earthly pleasures and luxury, thereby concealing the realities of life that might encourage him to become an ascetic.
After leading a sheltered existence surrounded by luxury and pleasure in his younger years, Prince Siddhārtha ventured out of his palace for the first time at the age of 29. He set off from the palace to the city in a chariot, accompanied by his charioteer Chandaka.
On this journey he first saw an old man. When the prince asked about this person, Chandaka replied that aging was something that happened to all beings alike. The second sight was of a sick person suffering from a disease. Once again, the prince was disturbed at the sight, and Chandaka explained that all beings are subject to disease and pain. This further troubled the prince.
The third sight was of a dead body. As before, Chandaka explained to the prince that death is an inevitable fate that befalls everyone. After these three sights Siddhārtha was sorrowful and troubled. Later Siddhārtha came upon a fourth sight, an ascetic who had devoted himself to finding liberation from sorrow and trouble.
Siddhārtha returned to the palace but kept thinking about what he saw as the true nature of life. He knew his father would try to stop him so he left the palace at night and over the next six years wandered from place to place, in search of understanding the mystery of life and death.
Finally in Bodh Gaya he resolved to sit in meditation under a peepal tree until he achieved liberation from the fears and sorrow of impermanence. According to Buddhist texts, he meditated without moving from his seat for seven weeks (49 days), facing inner temptations and demons and emerged free as Gautama the Buddha.