Siddhartha Gautama was born about 563 BC in what is now modern Nepal. His father, Suddhodana, was the ruler of the Sakya people and Siddhartha grew up living the extravagant life of a young prince. According to custom, he married at the young age of sixteen to a girl named Yasodhara.
His father had ordered that he live a life of total seclusion, but one day Siddhartha ventured out into the world and was confronted with the reality of the inevitable suffering of life.
The next day, at the age of twenty-nine, he left his kingdom and new-born son to lead a modest life and determine a way to relieve universal suffering. For six years, Siddhartha meditated under a bodhi tree. But he was never fully satisfied.
One day he was offered a bowl of rice from a young girl and he accepted it. At that moment, he realized that physical hardships were not the means to freedom. From then on, he encouraged people not to use extremes in their life. He called this The Middle Way. That night Siddhartha sat under the bodhi tree, and meditated till dawn.
He cleared his mind of all worldly things and claimed to get enlightenment at the age of thirty-five, thus earning the title Buddha, or “Enlightened One.” For the remainder of his eighty years, the Buddha preached the dharma in an effort to help other people reach enlightenment. When Siddhartha is a Brahmin, he believes in the existence of many gods and performs sacrifices to them.
After a while, he realizes this is meaningless and decides to leave his family and community and become a Samana. As a Samana, he tries to destroy himself in many ways. He feels if he kills himself, with his passions and emotions, he will find the great secret. Siddhartha doesn’t spend much time as Buddha, although he has an important revelation. He discovers he can’t find peace by learning from a master.
He finds the only way to have peace with the world is by finding it for himself. When Siddhartha leaves Buddha, he is enthralled with the world. He starts paying more attention to the world because he knows he must get experience for himself. As he walks he comes upon a town. He stays and becomes a merchant. At first, he looks at his actions as a game.
After a while, he becomes more serious. He starts drinking and gambling and becomes lazy. Siddhartha sees this and decides to leave the town. He wanders through a forest and comes upon a river.
Just as he’s about to kill himself he hears Om. Siddhartha decides there is much to live for. He looks at this experience as a rebirth, and starts a new life. Siddhartha stays by the river and looks for a ferryman he met years ago whose name was Vasudeva. Vasudeva had found peace with himself, and Siddhartha stays with him. He comes to peace with the world and learns he must love everything, because everything has good in it.
He also sees the difference between past, present, and future as just a myth. In his hometown, Siddhartha’s social status was very high. He was popular and loved by everyone, but he decided that he could not stay. When he was with the Samanas, this social status sunk to an all-time low. He was considered a beggar.
When Siddhartha visited the Buddha, his social status was changing. Siddhartha is involved with Brahmin rituals in his hometown. He lives with his family and is in good health. He eats well, has good hygiene, and wears decent clothes. But when the Samanas come to his village, he decides to leave his family for life in the forest. He travels with the Samanas in the Forrest.
He often meditates. He doesn’t eat well or clean himself, and only wears a loincloth. He leaves the Samanas by hypnotizing the leader and convinces him to let him go. Siddhartha goes to see Buddha. He soon leaves Buddha and travels on his own as an independent Samana. Eventually, he becomes weary of his lifestyle and decides to live in a village.
There he finds Kamala, a beautiful prostitute. He works hard to get clothes, shoes, and money for Kamala. Joining Kamaswami, a merchant. Siddhartha becomes rich. This gets him nice clothes, shoes, tasteful meals, and good hygiene. After a while he becomes tired of his life in the village and leaves. He tries to commit suicide but then decides not to kill himself.
He falls asleep and sleeps for a long, long time. When he wakes up he decides he wants to be a ferryman and join Vasudeva. Siddhartha lives in Vasudeva’s hut with him and occasionally talks with him. Siddhartha now wears few clothing, eats small meals, and keeps poor hygiene. Soon, he has to take care of his son, this takes time.
Siddhartha eventually completely takes over Vasudeva’s business Siddhartha was unhappy following Hinduism. He says, that since Atman created the other gods, then he is the only true God, and the others are temporary. Siddhartha’s discontent with Hinduism grows strong enough to drive him from home. Siddhartha’s experience with the Buddha shows his growing doubt of teachings.
He sees Nirvana in Buddha but knows in his heart that teachings cannot bring it. After leaving Buddha Siddhartha becomes depressed and decides to leave virtue for vices. After living with Samsara for many years, Siddhartha becomes depressed.
He realizes that the beautiful bird that once sang in his soul has become silent. When he reaches the river he sits above it, and hears of his soul the holy Om, this is proof that the bird exists. The river teaches him more than any human teacher could have, like the fact that time is an illusion. Siddhartha finally finds peace in this.