The 500s B.C. were a period of religious reform in the Indus River Valley and surrounding regions. Many religious leaders began to question the long standing Hindu values and teachings. New teachers began to travel, teaching new ideas, and forming new sects and religions. The most influential of these teachers was a prince by the name of Siddhartha Gautama.
Gautama was a Kshatriya Prince. His position of power in Indian society allowed him to live a life of great comfort. This sheltered life kept him from viewing the state of poverty and sickness that many of the people lived in. When Gautama was 29 years old, he began to tour his kingdom. Gautama was shocked at how much his people suffered.
Distressed, Gautama left his wife and newborn son in search of truth and enlightenment. For the next seven years he lived as a hermit, wandering and pondering humanity and life.