Gautama Buddha or Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम बुद्ध; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was aspiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent [note 1], on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. The word Buddha is a title for the first awakened being in an era. In most Buddhist traditions, Siddhartha Gautama is regarded as the Supreme Buddha (P. sammāsambuddha, S. samyaksaṃbuddha) of our age, "Buddha" meaning "awakened one" or "the enlightened one." [note 2] Gautama Buddha may also be referred to as Śākyamuni (Sanskrit: शाक्यमुनि "Sage of the Śākyas"). Gautama taught a Middle Way compared to the severe asceticism found in the Sramana (renunciation) movement common in his region. He later taught throughout regions of eastern India such as Magadha and Kośala. The time of Gautama's birth and death is uncertain: most historians in the early 20th century dated his lifetime as circa 563 BCE to 483 BCE, but more recent opinion dates his death to between 486 and 483 BCE or, according to some, between 411 and 400 BCE. [note 3] However, at a specialist symposium on this question held in 1988 in Göttingen, the majority of those scholars who presented definite opinions gave dates within 20 years either side of 400 BCE for the Buddha's death, with others supporting earlier or later dates. These alternative chronologies, however, have not yet been accepted by all other historians. Gautama is the primary figure in Buddhism, and accounts of his life, discourses, and monastic rules are believed by Buddhists to have been summarized after his death and memorized by his followers. Various collections of teachings attributed to him were passed down by oral tradition, and first committed to writing about 400 years later.
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