Tag: birth

Renunciation of the Buddha : Siddhartha leaves the Palace

Prince Siddhartha’s renunciation soon took place after the birth of his son Rahula. He affirmed his decision to leave after a feast failed to distract him.

Suddhodana organised a great feast for the young prince to celebrate the birth of his son, Rahula. The best dancers and musicians in the country were invited to perform. It was not out of delight that Suddhodana arranged it. He saw that Siddhartha was unhappy and that his new infant child was not giving him joy. The king was worried about the prince’s plans to leave the Palace. For the last time, he tried his best to divert him far from his solemn reflections.
Siddhartha went to the gathering just to satisfy his father. Siddhartha was worn out from his thoughts and he soon nodded off.

The performers soon stopped and they too rested when they saw this. Soon thereafter, the prince arose, stunned to see these people asleep. All the best performers and entertainers in the kingdom were now in such positions. These same people, who, hours prior, were endeavoring to make the prince so cheerful were now snoring loudly, some crushing and biting their teeth, they were tired from the effort. This change in their appearance made Siddhartha much more sickened and sad. He thought how oppressive it was. His mind turned again towards leaving the castle. He got up silently from the room and, woke up Channa, and made a request to saddle Kanthaka, his steed.

As Channa was saddling up Kanthaka, Siddhartha went to see his infant child for the first time. Yasodhara was laying down with the child next to her, her hand laying on the infant’s head. Siddhartha thought that if he attempts to move her hand so he can hold the baby for one final hug, he might wake her and she will keep him from his renunciation. He should leave at any cost, however, when he has discovered what he seeks, he shall return and see them once more.

Discreetly, Siddhartha left. At midnight, and the ruler was on his white steed Kanthaka with Channa, his loyal servant, held its tail. No one halted him as he rode far from all who knew, regarded and cherished him. He looked at the city of Kapilavastu one last time in the moonlight. He was renouncing his life to figure out to understand old age, disease and death. He rode to the bank of the stream Anoma (“celebrated”) and got off from his steed. He took off his adornments and royal garments and offered them to Channa to take them back to Suddhodhana. He then took his sword and trimmed off his long hair, wore simple robes, took a begging bowl and requested Channa to return with Kanthaka. Channa was asked to tell the king about his renunciation and that he shall return only when he had found the truth.

Channa was reluctant to return, but he began to go, however Kanthaka won’t follow him. The prince tried to persuade him, but Kanthaka won’t budge. Kanthaka figured that he might never see his master again. Kanthaka died of sadness as Siddhartha vanished into the horizon.

Thus was the renunciation.

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Naming Ceremony of the Buddha as a Young Prince

The prince was named as “Siddhartha” (Siddhattha) following the fifth day after his birth.
As per the ancient customs, many scholarly priests were invited to the royal residence for the naming ceremony. Eight recognized capable of making predictions were among them. Looking at the characteristic marks of the young prince, seven of them each raised two fingers signifying two potential outcomes. They predicted that he would either become a great King if he remains in the household or a Buddha if he resigns. However, the youngest and the wisest of them all Kondanna, raised just a single finger and convincingly announced that the prince would resign from the world and attain Buddhahood.
This Kondanna would later go on to try to join him in his struggle to enlightenment and eventually rejoin as a member of the Sangha.
The wise men then gave baptized him Siddhartha meaning “wish-fulfilled” or “he who fulfills his aim” .

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The Elephant Dream and the story of the Buddha’s Birth

Elephant Dream

Buddha’s Birth itself is preceded by an event with a lot of symbolism. The queen Mahā Māyā, Buddha’s mother, dreamt on a full moon night that she was carried by four devas (spirits) to the Anotatta Lake in the Himalayas. The devas clothed her with heavenly robes after bathing in the lake, and then perfumed her and covered her with flowers. Shortly after, a white elephant holding a white lotus flower, appeared and circled her three times, and went to her belly through her right. Eventually the elephant disappeared and the queen woke up and knew that she had received a vital message because the elephant symbolises greatness. Sages were called to interpret this dream and they considered it to be auspicious.

The elephant dream
The elephant dream foretelling Buddha’s Birth

Buddha’s Birth as a young prince

According to tradition, Buddha was born as a Shakya noble prince on a full-moon day in May in 623 BCE at Lumbini in Kapilavastu at the borders of present day Nepal and India. His parents were King Suddhodana and Queen Mahā Māyā. Queen Mahā Māyā died seven days after his birth, he was then adopted by her younger sister Mahā Pajāpati, who was married to the king, too. She gave the task of taking care of her own son Nanda to the the nurses.

People rejoiced at his birth. A ascetic, named Asita was especially satisfied to hear this cheerful news, and being a mentor of the King, went by the royal residence to see the Royal prince. The King carried the baby prince up to him, however, surprisingly, the kid’s legs turned and laid on the tangled locks of Asita. Asita instantly got up from his seat and, used his vision to foresee the child’s fate, he saluted him with caught hands. The Royal father did in like manner.

Asita smiled at first and then became unhappy. When asked about his mixed feelings, he replied that he smiled because the prince would ultimately become a buddha, an Enlightened one, and he became unhappy due to the fact he could no longer be able to witness the his achievements because of his early death.

The day of the Buddha’s birth is celebrated as Vesak in Theravada countries and as Buddha Purnima in India and Nepal.


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