Siddhartha Gautama (or Shakyamuni Buddha)
5th Century BC
The birth of Buddhism
Who is the Buddha and how did Buddhism grow to become one of the major religions of the world? He was Siddhartha Gautama, born as the eldest son of King Shuddhodana of the Shakya clan in India. While leading a sheltered and luxurious life in the palace, he fled from the palace to pursue the ultimate truth of life at 29.
Siddhartha learned under several teachers and tried extreme ascetic practices but realised these only added to his sufferings. Finally, he sat beneath a Bodhi tree to meditate at Bodhgaya. After days of deep meditation, Siddhartha attained enlightenment and came to be called Buddha (The Awakened One) a week before he turned 35. After his enlightenment, the Buddha traveled on foot throughout Northern India and spread his teachings for 45 years till the end of his lifetime.
Since then, Buddhism has spread far and wide from its place of origin to the rest of Asia. Along the years, there were notable individuals that helped Buddhism to flourish and in later years, others who revitalised the Buddha’s original teachings. The Lotus Sutra Exhibition features the flow of Buddhism in Asia and pays tribute to the individuals that have played an important role in the prosperity and preservation of the Buddha’s essential teachings.