There is a variety of Buddhist practices in Nepal, the Buddhism of the endemic Newar people, perhaps related to the ancient Buddhism that passed out of India one thousand year ago; the Buddhism of the Sherpa, Tamang and Tibetan people and the relatively modern incursion of Theravadin or Southern Buddhism.
The central beliefs and practices date back to the time of its founder, Prince Siddhartha Gautam who was born in Lumbini in the southern Terai in about 534 B.C. Until the age of 29, the young prince led a sheltered life in the palace of his father, completely unaware of the problems and suffering of the world outside his palace wall. One day he convinced his charioteer to take him outside the palace, where he was shocked at the sight of an old man, a sick man, a corpse and an ascetic. The realization of the true misery of the world persuaded the prince to abandon his luxurious life and goes into the forests to seek enlightenment to end human suffering. For many years, Gautam practiced asceticism without success. One night beneath a pepal tree in the forest of Bodh Gaya he became enlightened. Henceforth known as Lord Buddha, the ‘enlightened one’ he traveled around northern India and southern Nepal preaching the Middle Path to enlightenment. At the age of eighty he passed into the final enlightenment.