The founder of Buddhism, one of the major religions and philosophical systems of southern and eastern Asia, Siddhartha Gautama was born in the 6th or 4th century BC in Lumbini, present day Nepal. Siddhartha belonged to a wealthy Hindu royal family and reached his late twenties with little exposure to the world outside his palaces. When he finally ventured out and was confronted with the realities of human frailty, he was overcome by the pain and misery witnessed and he decided to leave his family and kingdom to lead an ascetic life. Determined to find a way to relieve people from universal suffering, he began austere meditations and observed long fasts to uncover the secrets of life and death. It was at the age of about 35 that Siddharta achieved enlightenment under the Bodhi tree at Gaya, and henceforth became known as the Buddha, or theenlightened one.