Shakyamuni Buddha, who originated Buddhism, was born roughly in 563 BCE in Lumbini Grove in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal. Given the name Siddhartha, he was the son of King Shuddhodana of the Shakya clan. It was prophesied he would become a Chakravartin universal monarch or an ‘awakened one’ or Buddha.
In his late twenties, Prince Siddhartha realized that the only way to escape the suffering of Samsara was to find the right spiritual path. In Bodhgaya he turned to meditation and vowed to continue until he reached enlightenment. At the age of thirty-five, under the Bodhi Tree, he became an enlightened Buddha.
Shakyamuni Buddha gave the First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma in Deer Park, Benares, in which he taught the Four Noble Truths, interdependence and the law of Karma. At Vulture Peak in Rajagriha, he gave the Second Turning of the Wheel of Dharma teaching that all phenomena are emptiness. The Third Turning of the Wheel of Dharma consisted of multiple teachings including that all beings possess Buddha Nature. Today, his teachings still inspire us to pursue boundless love and compassion on the Path to Liberation.