Buddhas early life- He was born as Siddartha Gotama about 563 BCE in a village called Lumbini between India and N epal, the son of a king. It was predicted at his birth that he would become either a powerful ruler or holy man. His father, who wished Siddartha would be a ruler, sheltered him from all misery and anything that would influence him to become a holy man. Siddartha spent his early life in luxury, married and had a son (called Rahula meaning 'chains'). He had everything he could ever want but he wished to see more of the world as he felt trapped and unsatisfied.
The four sights- Buddha wanted to see the world so left the palace grounds and travelled in to town. He saw four sights; An old man, a sick man, a corpse and a holy man. The first three sights opened Buddhas eyes to a whole new world that he had never seen, A world with suffering ( dukkha). In the fourth sight, he saw his destiny. The sights were a life changing experience for the buddha. He learnt that there is suffereing in the world and this made him want to find a way to overcome dukkha and reach enlightenment. He was inspired by the holy man's serenity.
The great renunciation- After the four sights, the curiosity that had built in Siddarthas mind was so great the he renounced (gave up and abandoned) the life he had known up to that point. At the age of 29, he gave up the luxurious lifestyle of a prince and the possibility of being a king one day; renouncing wife and child and a crown that held the promise of power and glory. To show his great renunciation he cut his hair and put on yellow robes. This symbolised his new focus on finding peace in life. He no longer wanted the distraction of clothes or thinking about his appearance.
Siddartha went to seek the help of holy men to find out how he could overcome dukkha. They trained him to focus on his thoughts and taught him yoga and ways to meditate. They advised that he adopt a strict lifestyle- a path of denial where he was to eat little food. He reduced himself to a skeleton but could not find peace.