The Buddhist religion originated from a man named Siddhartha Gautama who founded the religion in the late 6th century B.C. The Buddhist religion is very different from Western religions which believe in an actual religious figure. The religious beliefs of Buddhists are based on the actual teachings of Siddhartha Gautama. Commonly known as The Buddha, he emphasized self-awareness. Much like Hinduism, both of these religions seek enlightenment and attempt to reach nirvana by breaking the "samsara" cycle of life. As in many Indian re 1 igi ons, both believe in concepts such as karma, reincarnation and raja yoga (deep meditation). The most significant difference between the two religions is that the Buddhists believe in the Middle Path to enlightenment.
The Middle Path is considered the medium between the extreme practices of the Hindus and the common village practices. Siddhartha decided to seek enlightenment after viewing four disturbing sights. Siddhartha grew up living an extravagant life of a young prince and was raised in luxury to be protected from harsh realities of life. His father was the ruler of the Sakya people. It is said that Siddhartha's father had summoned fortunetellers to tell of his son's destiny. The fortunetellers' had two very different predictions for the ruler - they stated that his son was destined for greatness and could reach this greatness two different ways.
One prophecy stated that if kept sheltered from the world, he would become the "Universal King" and unify India by being the greatest conqueror. The other prophecy said that if he were exposed to the world, then he would emerge as a great religious leader and redeem the world. Scared that his son would become a monk Siddhartha's father decided to create a world where his son would never experience the world completely and shielded him from all kinds of suffering and hardship. He hired only beautiful young people to work in the palace and when Siddhartha would go outside the palace riding he would have the streets clear prior of any sickness, death and of all elderly people. According to legend, Siddhartha married a young girl named Yasodhar a, at the age of sixteen, and they had a child.
One day, Siddhartha ventured outside of the palace where he encountered an old man that was overlooked. Curious, Siddhartha questioned the old man and realized that no one can escape the fact that people age. The second day he saw a man who was terribly ill and he learned of illnesses. On the third day he witnessed a funeral and realized people die. This was the first time that Siddhartha had ever seen death, disease and the elderly. He realized that life was not just about pleasure and joy but that the world was filled with many bad things.
The sightings made Siddhartha think of the suffering and inevitable death, which comes to all people. This made him depressed and brought further questioning such as the meaning of life and the true reason of man's exist was depressed until one day he saw the fourth sight, which was a monk walking alone. After now being confronted with the harsh reality of life and universal suffering, Siddhartha was determined to find a better way to live. Thus, this was the beginning of a six-year quest in which Siddhartha sought enlightenment and a better way of living.