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Shakyamuni Buddha

Shakyamuni Buddha is the historical Buddha born in the 6th century BCE in India, often referred to as just "the Buddha." Born a prince in the Shakya family, he later gave up his royal life to find answers to life's questions. He became a wandering ascetic, and eventually acheived perfect enlightenment. He taught that everyone is capable of acheiving the same enlightened state by practicing the Middle Way.

Statues and thangkas of Shakyamuni Buddha represent his enlightened being. The imagery is highly symbolic and helps the Buddhist practitioner aspire to reach enlightenment. For instance, when Buddha acheived enlightenment he reached down and touched the ground, so the figure's right hand is in the ground touching mudra.