Photograph of a Buddhist sculpture showing the birth of Buddha, from Lorian Tangai, taken by Alexander Caddy in 1896.
Prophecies at the birth of Prince Siddhārtha, later known as the Buddha, foretold his becoming either a great king or a great holy man. The Hindu tradition of the birth of Buddha teaches that his mother stood upright and held on to a branch during delivery. Immediately after she gave birth to him from out of her side, Buddha took seven steps and said that he would achieve enlightenment and end all suffering.
Throughout his childhood and even until he was a young adult, his father successfully sheltered him from all knowledge of the suffering of the world. However, at the age of twenty-nine, a pivotal encounter changed the course of his life. Siddhārtha went out to meet with his subjects and although his father usually barred the sick, aged and suffering from these audiences, on this occasion Prince Siddhārtha beheld the face of an old man for the first time. This was the beginning of his consciousness of old age, illness and death. It was also the beginning of a personal pilgrimage which eventually led to his enlightenment at the age of thirty-five.