Many stories have been told about the life of Buddha Shakyamuni and their details differ to some extent. His biography roughly goes as follows: Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born in a forest grove at Lumbini and grew up in the palace of his father at Kapilavastu. While growing up he enjoyed all the riches and amenities of palace life. As a young man he undertook four excursions beyond the palace grounds in the course of which he encountered death, ageing, and suffering, driven by the eternal cycle of rebirth. He was unable to find an answer as to the cause of suffering. Then, one day, he met an itinerant monk. Hoping to find an end to suffering and escape from the incessant cycle of birth and death, the prince fled the palace and himself became a mendicant monk. After many years he finally experienced awakening and found a road to salvation.
After founding the first Buddhist community and teaching his doctrine of salvation for many years, he died and entered parinirvana. He was no longer reborn, for he had reached the state of ultimate release. Buddhists consider the Buddha’s life exemplary.
The legends of the Buddha are comparable to those of saints. They indicate how people at a certain time imagined the life of the Buddha. They are by no means factual accounts.