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The Birth

Source: Sacred Books Of The East

There was a descendant of the Ikshvaku family, an invincible Sakya
monarch, pure in mind and of unspotted virtue, called therefore
Pure-rice, or Suddhodana. Joyously reverenced by all men, as the new
moon is welcomed by the world, the king indeed was like the heaven-ruler
Sakra, his queen like the divine Saki. Strong and calm of purpose as the
earth, pure in mind as the water-lily, her name, figuratively assumed,
Maya, she was in truth incapable of class-comparison. On her in likeness
as the heavenly queen descended the spirit and entered her womb. A
mother, but free from grief or pain, she was without any false or
illusory mind. Disliking the clamorous ways of the world, she remembered
the excellent garden of Lumbini, a pleasant spot, a quiet forest
retreat, with its trickling fountains, and blooming flowers and fruits.
Quiet and peaceful, delighting in meditation, respectfully she asked the
king for liberty to roam therein; the king, understanding her earnest
desire, was seized with a seldom-felt anxiety to grant her request. He
commanded his kinsfolk, within and without the palace, to repair with
her to that garden shade; and now the queen Maya knew that her time for
child-bearing was come. She rested calmly on a beautiful couch,
surrounded by a hundred thousand female attendants; it was the eighth
day of the fourth moon, a season of serene and agreeable character.

Whilst she thus religiously observed the rules of a pure discipline,
Bodhisattva was born from her right side, come to deliver the world,
constrained by great pity, without causing his mother pain or anguish.
As king Yu-liu was born from the thigh, as King Pi-t'au was born from
the hand, as King Man-to was born from the top of the head, as King
Kia-k'ha was born from the arm-pit, so also was Bodhisattva on the day
of his birth produced from the right side; gradually emerging from the
womb, he shed in every direction the rays of his glory. As one born from
recumbent space, and not through the gates of life, through countless
kalpas, practising virtue, self-conscious he came forth to life, without
confusion. Calm and collected, not falling headlong was he born,
gloriously manifested, perfectly adorned, sparkling with light he came
from the womb, as when the sun first rises from the East.

Men indeed regarded his exceeding great glory, yet their sight remained
uninjured: he allowed them to gaze, the brightness of his person
concealed for the time, as when we look upon the moon in the heavens.
His body, nevertheless, was effulgent with light, and like the sun which
eclipses the shining of the lamp, so the true gold-like beauty of
Bodhisattva shone forth, and was diffused everywhere. Upright and firm
and unconfused in mind, he deliberately took seven steps, the soles of
his feet resting evenly upon the ground as he went, his footmarks
remained bright as seven stars.

Moving like the lion, king of beasts, and looking earnestly towards the
four quarters, penetrating to the centre the principles of truth, he
spake thus with the fullest assurance: This birth is in the condition of
a Buddha; after this I have done with renewed birth; now only am I born
this once, for the purpose of saving all the world.

And now from the midst of heaven there descended two streams of pure
water, one warm, the other cold, and baptized his head, causing
refreshment to his body. And now he is placed in the precious palace
hall, a jewelled couch for him to sleep upon, and the heavenly kings
with their golden flowery hands hold fast the four feet of the bed.
Meanwhile the Devas in space, seizing their jewelled canopies,
attending, raise in responsive harmony their heavenly songs, to
encourage him to accomplish his perfect purpose.

Then the Naga-ragas filled with joy, earnestly desiring to show their
reverence for the most excellent law, as they had paid honor to the
former Buddhas, now went to meet Bodhisattva; they scattered before him
Mandara flowers, rejoicing with heartfelt joy to pay such religious
homage; and so, again, Tathagata having appeared in the world, the
Suddha angels rejoiced with gladness; with no selfish or partial joy,
but for the sake of religion they rejoiced, because creation, engulfed
in the ocean of pain, was now to obtain perfect release.

Then the precious Mountain-raga, Sumeru, firmly holding this great earth
when Bodhisattva appeared in the world, was swayed by the wind of his
perfected merit. On every hand the world was greatly shaken, as the wind
drives the tossing boat; so also the minutest atoms of sandal perfume,
and the hidden sweetness of precious lilies floated on the air, and rose
through space, and then commingling, came back to earth; so again the
garments of Devas descending from heaven touching the body, caused
delightful thrills of joy; the sun and moon with constant course
redoubled the brilliancy of their light, whilst in the world the fire's
gleam of itself prevailed without the use of fuel. Pure water, cool and
refreshing from the springs, flowed here and there, self-caused; in the
palace all the waiting women were filled with joy at such an
unprecedented event. Proceeding all in company, they drink and bathe
themselves; in all arose calm and delightful thoughts; countless
inferior Devas, delighting in religion, like clouds assembled.

In the garden of Lumbini, filling the spaces between the trees, rare and
special flowers, in great abundance, bloomed out of season. All cruel
and malevolent kinds of beings, together conceived a loving heart; all
diseases and afflictions among men without a cure applied, of themselves
were healed. The various cries and confused sounds of beasts were hushed
and silence reigned; the stagnant water of the river-courses flowed
apace, whilst the polluted streams became clear and pure. No clouds
gathered throughout the heavens, whilst angelic music, self caused, was
heard around; the whole world of sentient creatures enjoyed peace and
universal tranquillity.

Just as when a country visited by desolation, suddenly obtains an
enlightened ruler, so when Bodhisattva was born, he came to remove the
sorrows of all living things.

Mara,[91] the heavenly monarch, alone was grieved and rejoiced not. The
Royal Father (Suddhodana), beholding his son, strange and miraculous, as
to his birth, though self-possessed and assured in his soul, was yet
moved with astonishment and his countenance changed, whilst he
alternately weighed with himself the meaning of such an event, now
rejoiced and now distressed.

The queen-mother beholding her child, born thus contrary to laws of
nature, her timorous woman's heart was doubtful; her mind, through fear,
swayed between extremes: Not distinguishing the happy from the sad
portents, again and again she gave way to grief; and now the aged women
of the world, in a confused way supplicating heavenly guidance, implored
the gods to whom their rites were paid, to bless the child; to cause
peace to rest upon the royal child. Now there was at this time in the
grove, a certain soothsayer, a Brahman, of dignified mien and
wide-spread renown, famed for his skill and scholarship: beholding the
signs, his heart rejoiced, and he exulted at the miraculous event.
Knowing the king's mind to be somewhat perplexed, he addressed him with
truth and earnestness: "Men born in the world, chiefly desire to have a
son the most renowned; but now the king, like the moon when full, should
feel in himself a perfect joy, having begotten an unequalled son, (for
by this the king) will become illustrious among his race; let then his
heart be joyful and glad, banish all anxiety and doubt, the spiritual
omens that are everywhere manifested indicate for your house and
dominion a course of continued prosperity. The most excellently endowed
child now born will bring deliverance to the entire world: none but a
heavenly teacher has a body such as this, golden-colored, gloriously
resplendent. One endowed with such transcendent marks must reach the
state of Samyak-Sambodhi, or, if he be induced to engage in worldly
delights, then he must become a universal monarch; everywhere recognized
as the ruler of the great earth, mighty in his righteous government, as
a monarch ruling the four empires, uniting under his sway all other
rulers; as among all lesser lights, the sun's brightness is by far the
most excellent. But if he seek a dwelling among the mountain forests,
with single heart searching for deliverance, having arrived at the
perfection of true wisdom, he will become illustrious throughout the
world; for as Mount Sumeru is monarch among all mountains, or, as gold
is chief among all precious things; or, as the ocean is supreme among
all streams; or, as the moon is first among the stars; or, as the sun is
brightest of all luminaries, so Tathagata, born in the world, is the
most eminent of men; his eyes clear and expanding, the lashes both above
and below moving with the lid, the iris of the eye of a clear blue
color, in shape like the moon when half full, such characteristics as
these, without contradiction, foreshadow the most excellent condition of
perfect wisdom."

At this time the king addressed the twice-born,[92] "If it be as you
say, with respect to these miraculous signs, that they indicate such
consequences, then no such case has happened with former kings, nor down
to our time has such a thing occurred." The Brahman addressed the king
thus, "Say not so; for it is not right; for with regard to renown and
wisdom, personal celebrity, and worldly substance, these four things
indeed are not to be considered according to precedent or subsequence;
but whatever is produced according to nature, such things are liable to
the law of cause and effect: but now whilst I recount some parallels let
the king attentively listen:--Bhrigu, Angira, these two of Rishi family,
having passed many years apart from men, each begat an excellently
endowed son; Brihaspati with Sukra, skilful in making royal treatises,
not derived from former families (or tribes); Sarasvata, the Rishi,
whose works have long disappeared, begat a son, Po-lo-sa, who compiled
illustrious Sutras and Shastras; that which now we know and see, is not
therefore dependent on previous connection; Vyasa, the Rishi, the author
of numerous treatises, after his death had among his descendants Poh-mi
(Valmiki), who extensively collected Gatha sections; Atri, the Rishi,
not understanding the sectional treatise on medicine, afterwards begat
Atreya, who was able to control diseases; the twice-born Rishi Kusi
(Kusika), not occupied with heretical treatises, afterwards begat
Kia-ti-na-raga, who thoroughly understood heretical systems; the
sugar-cane monarch, who began his line, could not restrain the tide of
the sea, but Sagara-raga, his descendant, who begat a thousand royal
sons, he could control the tide of the great sea so that it should come
no further. Ganaka, the Rishi, without a teacher acquired power of
abstraction. All these, who obtained such renown, acquired powers of
themselves; those distinguished before, were afterwards forgotten; those
before forgotten, became afterwards distinguished; kings like these and
god-like Rishis have no need of family inheritance, and therefore the
world need not regard those going before or following. So, mighty king!
is it with you: you should experience true joy of heart, and because of
this joy should banish forever doubt or anxiety." The king, hearing the
words of the seer, was glad, and offered him increased gifts.

"Now have I begotten a valiant son," he said, "who will establish a
wheel authority, whilst I, when old and gray-headed, will go forth to
lead a hermit's life, so that my holy, king-like son may not give up the
world and wander through mountain forests."

And now near the spot within the garden, there was a Rishi, leading the
life of an ascetic; his name was Asita, wonderfully skilful in the
interpretation of signs; he approached the gate of the palace; the king
beholding him exclaimed, "This is none other but Brahmadeva, himself
enduring penance from love of true religion, these two characteristics
so plainly visible as marks of his austerities." Then the king was much
rejoiced; and forthwith he invited him within the palace, and with
reverence set before him entertainment, whilst he, entering the inner
palace, rejoiced only in prospect of seeing the royal child.

Although surrounded by the crowd of court ladies, yet still he was as if
in desert solitude; and now they place a preaching throne and pay him
increased honor and religious reverence, as Antideva raga reverenced the
priest Vasishtha. Then the king, addressing the Rishi, said: "Most
fortunate am I, great Rishi! that you have condescended to come here to
receive from me becoming gifts and reverence; I pray you therefore enter
on your exhortation."

Thus requested and invited, the Rishi felt unutterable joy, and said,
"All hail, ever victorious monarch! possessed of all noble, virtuous
qualities, loving to meet the desires of those who seek, nobly generous
in honoring the true law, conspicuous as a race for wisdom and humanity,
with humble mind you pay me homage, as you are bound. Because of your
righteous deeds in former lives, now are manifested these excellent
fruits; listen to me, then, whilst I declare the reason of the present
meeting. As I was coming on the sun's way, I heard the Devas in space
declare that the king had born to him a royal son, who would arrive at
perfect intelligence; moreover I beheld such other portents, as have
constrained me now to seek your presence; desiring to see the Sakya
monarch who will erect the standard of the true law."

The king, hearing the Rishi's words, was fully assured; escaping from
the net of doubt, he ordered an attendant to bring the prince, to
exhibit him to the Rishi. The Rishi, beholding the prince, the
thousand-rayed wheel on the soles of his feet, the web-like filament
between his fingers, between his eyebrows the white wool-like
prominence, his complexion bright and lustrous; seeing these wonderful
birth-portents, the seer wept and sighed deeply.

The king beholding the tears of the Rishi, thinking of his son, his soul
was overcome, and his breath fast held his swelling heart. Thus alarmed
and ill at ease, unconsciously he arose from his seat, and bowing his
head at the Rishi's feet, he addressed him in these words: "This son of
mine, born thus wonderfully, beautiful in face, and surpassingly
graceful, little different from the gods in form, giving promise of
superiority in the world, ah! why has he caused thee grief and pain?
Forbid it, that my son should die! or should be short-lived!--the
thought creates in me grief and anxiety; that one athirst, within reach
of the eternal draught,[93] should after all reject and lose it! sad
indeed! Forbid it, he should lose his wealth and treasure! dead to his
house! lost to his country! for he who has a prosperous son in life,
gives pledge that his country's weal is well secured; and then, coming
to die, my heart will rest content, rejoicing in the thought of
offspring surviving me; even as a man possessed of two eyes, one of
which keeps watch, while the other sleeps; not like the frost-flower of
autumn, which, though it seems to bloom, is not a reality. A man who,
midst his tribe and kindred, deeply loves a spotless son, at every
proper time in recollection of it has joy; O! that you would cause me to

The Rishi, knowing the king-sire to be thus greatly afflicted at heart,
immediately addressed the Maharaga: "Let not the king be for a moment
anxious! the words I have spoken to the king, let him ponder these, and
not permit himself to doubt; the portents now are as they were before,
cherish then no other thoughts! But recollecting I myself am old, on
that account I could not hold my tears; for now my end is coming on. But
this son of thine will rule the world, born for the sake of all that
lives! this is indeed one difficult to meet with; he shall give up his
royal estate, escape from the domain of the five desires, with
resolution and with diligence practise austerities, and then awakening,
grasp the truth. Then constantly, for the world's sake (all living
things), destroying the impediments of ignorance and darkness, he shall
give to all enduring light, the brightness of the sun of perfect wisdom.
All flesh submerged in the sea of sorrow; all diseases collected as the
bubbling froth; decay and age like the wild billows; death like the
engulfing ocean; embarking lightly in the boat of wisdom he will save
the world from all these perils, by wisdom stemming back the flood. His
pure teaching like to the neighboring shore, the power of meditation,
like a cool lake, will be enough for all the unexpected birds; thus deep
and full and wide is the great river of the true law; all creatures
parched by the drought of lust may freely drink thereof, without stint;
those enchained in the domain of the five desires, those driven along by
many sorrows, and deceived amid the wilderness of birth and death, in
ignorance of the way of escape, for these Bodhisattva has been born in
the world, to open out a way of salvation. The fire of lust and
covetousness, burning with the fuel of the objects of sense, he has
caused the cloud of his mercy to rise, so that the rain of the law may
extinguish them. The heavy gates of gloomy unbelief, fast kept by
covetousness and lust, within which are confined all living things, he
opens and gives free deliverance. With the tweezers of his diamond
wisdom he plucks out the opposing principles of lustful desire. In the
self-twined meshes of folly and ignorance all flesh poor and in misery,
helplessly lying, the king of the law has come forth, to rescue these
from bondage. Let not the king in respect of this his son encourage in
himself one thought of doubt or pain; but rather let him grieve on
account of the world, led captive by desire, opposed to truth; but I,
indeed, amid the ruins of old age and death, am far removed from the
meritorious condition of the holy one, possessed indeed of powers of
abstraction, yet not within reach of the gain he will give, to be
derived from his teaching as the Bodhisattva; not permitted to hear his
righteous law, my body worn out, after death, alas! destined to be born
as a Deva[94] still liable to the three calamities, old age, decay, and
death, therefore I weep."

The king and all his household attendants, hearing the words of the
Rishi, knowing the cause of his regretful sorrow, banished from their
minds all further anxiety: "And now," the king said, "to have begotten
this excellent son, gives me rest at heart; but that he should leave his
kingdom and home, and practise the life of an ascetic, not anxious to
ensure the stability of the kingdom, the thought of this still brings
with it pain."

At this time the Rishi, turning to the king with true words, said, "It
must be even as the king anticipates, he will surely arrive at perfect
enlightenment." Thus having appeased every anxious heart among the
king's household, the Rishi by his own inherent spiritual power ascended
into space and disappeared.

At this time Suddhodana raga, seeing the excellent marks (predictive
signs) of his son, and, moreover, hearing the words of Asita, certifying
that which would surely happen, was greatly affected with reverence to
the child: he redoubled measures for its protection, and was filled with
constant thought; moreover, he issued decrees through the empire, to
liberate all captives in prison, according to the custom when a royal
son was born, giving the usual largess, in agreement with the directions
of the Sacred Books, and extending his gifts to all; or, all these
things he did completely. When the child was ten days old, his father's
mind being now quite tranquil, he announced a sacrifice to all the gods,
and prepared to give liberal offerings to all the religious bodies;
Sramanas and Brahmanas invoked by their prayers a blessing from the
gods, whilst he bestowed gifts on the royal kinspeople and the ministers
and the poor within the country; the women who dwelt in the city or the
villages, all those who needed cattle or horses or elephants or money,
each, according to his necessities, was liberally supplied. Then,
selecting by divination a lucky time, they took the child back to his
own palace, with a double-feeding white-pure-tooth, carried in a
richly-adorned chariot (cradle), with ornaments of every kind and color
round his neck; shining with beauty, exceedingly resplendent with
unguents. The queen embracing him in her arms, going around, worshipped
the heavenly spirits. Afterwards she remounted her precious chariot,
surrounded by her waiting women; the king, with his ministers and
people, and all the crowd of attendants, leading the way and following,
even as the ruler of heaven, Sakra, is surrounded by crowds of Devas; as
Mahesvara, when suddenly his six-faced child was born; arranging every
kind of present, gave gifts, and asked for blessings; so now the king,
when his royal son was born, made all his arrangements in like manner.
So Vaisravana, the heavenly king, when Nalakuvara was born, surrounded
by a concourse of Devas, was filled with joy and much gladness; so the
king, now the royal prince was born, in the kingdom of Kapila, his
people and all his subjects were likewise filled with joy.

* * * * *

Living in the Palace

And now in the household of Suddhodana raga, because of the birth of the
royal prince, his clansmen and younger brethren, with his ministers,
were all generously disposed, whilst elephants, horses and chariots, and
the wealth of the country, and precious vessels, daily increased and
abounded, being produced wherever requisite; so, too, countless hidden
treasures came of themselves from the earth. From the midst of the pure
snowy mountains, a wild herd of white elephants, without noise, of
themselves, came; not curbed by any, self-subdued, every kind of colored
horse, in shape and quality surpassingly excellent, with sparkling
jewelled manes and flowing tails, came prancing round, as if with wings;
these too, born in the desert, came at the right time, of themselves. A
herd of pure-colored, well-proportioned cows, fat and fleshy, and
remarkable for beauty, giving fragrant and pure milk with equal flow,
came together in great number at this propitious time. Enmity and envy
gave way to peace; content and rest prevailed on every side; whilst
there was closer union amongst the true of heart, discord and variance
were entirely appeased; the gentle air distilled a seasonable rain, no
crash of storm or tempest was heard, the springing seeds, not waiting
for their time, grew up apace and yielded abundant increase; the five
cereals grew ripe with scented grain, soft and glutinous, easy of
digestion; all creatures big with young, possessed their bodies in ease
and their frames well gathered. All men, even those who had not received
the seeds of instruction derived from the four holy ones;[95] all these,
throughout the world, born under the control of selfish appetite,
without any thought for others' goods, had no proud, envious longings;
no angry, hateful thoughts. All the temples of the gods and sacred
shrines, the gardens, wells, and fountains, all these like things in
heaven, produced of themselves, at the proper time, their several
adornments. There was no famishing hunger, the soldiers' weapons were at
rest, all diseases disappeared; throughout the kingdom all the people
were bound close in family love and friendship; piously affectioned they
indulged in mutual pleasures, there were no impure or polluting desires;
they sought their daily gain righteously, no covetous money-loving
spirit prevailed, but with religious purpose they gave liberally; there
was no thought of any reward or return, but all practised the four rules
of purity; and every hateful thought was suppressed and destroyed. Even
as in days gone by, Manu raga begat a child called "Brilliancy of the
Sun," on which there prevailed through the country great prosperity, and
all wickedness came to an end; so now the king having begotten a royal
prince, these marks of prosperity were seen; and because of such a
concourse of propitious signs, the child was named Siddhartha.[96] And
now his royal mother, the queen Maya, beholding her son born under such
circumstances, beautiful as a child of heaven, adorned with every
excellent distinction, from excessive joy which could not be controlled
died, and was born in heaven. Then Praga-pati Gautami, beholding the
prince, like an angel, with beauty seldom seen on earth, seeing him thus
born and now his mother dead, loved and nourished him as her own child;
and the child regarded her as his mother.

So as the light of the sun or the moon, little by little increases, the
royal child also increased each day in every mental excellency and
beauty of person; his body exhaled the perfume of priceless sandal-wood,
decorated with the famed Gambunada gold gems; divine medicines there
were to preserve him in health, glittering necklaces upon his person;
the members of tributary states, hearing that the king had an heir born
to him, sent their presents and gifts of various kinds: oxen, sheep,
deer, horses, and chariots, precious vessels and elegant ornaments, fit
to delight the heart of the prince; but though presented with such
pleasing trifles, the necklaces and other pretty ornaments, the mind of
the prince was unmoved, his bodily frame small indeed, but his heart
established; his mind at rest within its own high purposes, was not to
be disturbed by glittering baubles.

And now he was brought to learn the useful arts, when lo! once
instructed he surpassed his teachers. His father, the king, seeing his
exceeding talent, and his deep purpose to have done with the world and
its allurements, began to inquire as to the names of those in his tribe
who were renowned for elegance and refinement. Elegant and graceful, and
a lovely maiden, was she whom they called Yasodhara; in every way
fitting to become a consort for the prince, and to allure by pleasant
wiles his heart. The prince with a mind so far removed from the world,
with qualities so distinguished, and with so charming an appearance,
like the elder son of Brahmadeva, Sanatkumara (She-na Kiu-ma-lo); the
virtuous damsel, lovely and refined, gentle and subdued in manner;
majestic like the queen of heaven, constant ever, cheerful night and
day, establishing the palace in purity and quiet, full of dignity and
exceeding grace, like a lofty hill rising up in space; or as a white
autumn cloud; warm or cool according to the season; choosing a proper
dwelling according to the year, surrounded by a return of singing women,
who join their voices in harmonious heavenly concord, without any
jarring or unpleasant sound, exciting in the hearers forgetfulness of
worldly cares. As the heavenly Gandharvas of themselves, in their
beauteous palaces, cause the singing women to raise heavenly strains,
the sounds of which and their beauty ravish both eyes and heart--so
Bodhisattva dwelt in his lofty palace, with music such as this. The
king, his father, for the prince's sake, dwelt purely in his palace,
practising every virtue; delighting in the teaching of the true law, he
put away from him every evil companion, that his heart might not be
polluted by lust; regarding inordinate desire as poison, keeping his
passion and his body in due control, destroying and repressing all
trivial thoughts; desiring to enjoy virtuous conversation, loving
instruction fit to subdue the hearts of men, aiming to accomplish the
conversion of unbelievers; removing all schemes of opposition from
whatever source they came by the enlightening power of his doctrine,
aiming to save the entire world; thus he desired that the body of people
should obtain rest; even as we desire to give peace to our children, so
did he long to give rest to the world. He also attended to his religious
duties, sacrificing by fire to all the spirits, with clasped hands
adoring the moon, bathing his body in the waters of the Ganges;
cleansing his heart in the waters of religion, performing his duties
with no private aim, but regarding his child and the people at large;
loving righteous conversation, righteous words with loving aim; loving
words with no mixture of falsehood, true words imbued by love, and yet
withal so modest and self-distrustful, unable on that account to speak
as confident of truth; loving to all, and yet not loving the world; with
no thought of selfishness or covetous desire: aiming to restrain the
tongue and in quietness to find rest from wordy contentions, not seeking
in the multitude of religious duties to condone for a worldly principle
in action, but aiming to benefit the world by a liberal and
unostentatious charity; the heart without any contentious thought, but
resolved by goodness to subdue the contentious; desiring to mortify the
passions, and to destroy every enemy of virtue; not multiplying coarse
or unseemly words, but exhorting to virtue in the use of courteous
language; full of sympathy and ready charity, pointing out and
practising the way of mutual dependence; receiving and understanding the
wisdom of spirits and Rishis; crushing and destroying every cruel and
hateful thought. Thus his fame and virtue were widely renowned, and yet
himself finally (or, forever) separate from the ties of the world,
showing the ability of a master builder, laying a good foundation of
virtue, an example for all the earth; so a man's heart composed and at
rest, his limbs and all his members will also be at ease. And now the
son of Suddhodana, and his virtuous wife Yasodhara, as time went on,
growing to full estate, their child Rahula was born; and then Suddhodana
raga considered thus: "My son, the prince, having a son born to him, the
affairs of the empire will be handed down in succession, and there will
be no end to its righteous government; the prince having begotten a son,
will love his son as I love him, and no longer think about leaving his
home as an ascetic, but devote himself to the practice of virtue; I now
have found complete rest of heart, like one just born to heavenly joys."

Like as in the first days of the kalpa, Rishi-kings by the way in which
they walked, practising pure and spotless deeds, offered up religious
offerings, without harm to living thing, and illustriously prepared an
excellent karma, so the king excelling in the excellence of purity in
family and excellence of wealth, excelling in strength and every
exhibition of prowess, reflected the glory of his name through the
world, as the sun sheds abroad his thousand rays. But now, being the
king of men, or a king among men, he deemed it right to exhibit his
son's prowess, for the sake of his family and kin, to exhibit him; to
increase his family's renown, his glory spread so high as even to obtain
the name of "God begotten;" and having partaken of these heavenly joys,
enjoying the happiness of increased wisdom; understanding the truth by
his own righteousness, derived from previous hearing of the truth. Would
that this might lead my son, he prayed, to love his child and not
forsake his home; the kings of all countries, whose sons have not yet
grown up, have prevented them exercising authority in the empire, in
order to give their minds relaxation, and for this purpose have provided
them with worldly indulgences, so that they may perpetuate the royal
seed; so now the king, having begotten a royal son, indulged him in
every sort of pleasure; desiring that he might enjoy these worldly
delights, and not wish to wander from his home in search of wisdom. In
former times the Bodhisattva kings, although their way (life) has been
restrained, have yet enjoyed the pleasures of the world, and when they
have begotten a son, then separating themselves from family ties, have
afterwards entered the solitude of the mountains, to prepare themselves
in the way of a silent recluse.

* * * * *

Disgust at Sorrow

Without are pleasant garden glades, flowing fountains, pure refreshing
lakes, with every kind of flower, and trees with fruit, arranged in
rows, deep shade beneath. There, too, are various kinds of wondrous
birds, flying and sporting in the midst, and on the surface of the water
the four kinds of flowers, bright colored, giving out their floating
scent; minstrel maidens cause their songs and chorded music, to invite
the prince. He, hearing the sounds of singing, sighs for the pleasures
of the garden shades, and cherishing within these happy thoughts, he
dwelt upon the joys of an outside excursion; even as the chained
elephant ever longs for the free desert wilds.

The royal father, hearing that the prince would enjoy to wander through
the gardens, first ordered all his attendant officers to adorn and
arrange them, after their several offices:--To make level and smooth the
king's highway, to remove from the path all offensive matter, all old
persons, diseased or deformed, all those suffering through poverty or
great grief, so that his son in his present humor might see nothing
likely to afflict his heart. The adornments being duly made, the prince
was invited to an audience; the king seeing his son approach, patted his
head, and looking at the color of his face, feelings of sorrow and joy
intermingled, bound him. His mouth willing to speak, his heart

Now see the jewel-fronted gaudy chariot; the four equally pacing,
stately horses; good-tempered and well trained; young and of graceful
appearance; perfectly pure and white, and draped with flowery coverings.
In the same chariot stands the stately driver; the streets were
scattered over with flowers; precious drapery fixed on either side of
the way, with dwarfed trees lining the road, costly vessels employed for
decoration, hanging canopies and variegated banners, silken curtains,
moved by the rustling breeze; spectators arranged on either side of the
path. With bodies bent and glistening eyes, eagerly gazing, but not
rudely staring, as the blue lotus flower they bent drooping in the air,
ministers and attendants flocking round him, as stars following the
chief of the constellation; all uttering the same suppressed whisper of
admiration, at a sight so seldom seen in the world; rich and poor,
humble and exalted, old and young and middle-aged, all paid the greatest
respect, and invoked blessings on the occasion.

So the country-folk and the town-folk, hearing that the prince was
coming forth, the well-to-do not waiting for their servants, those
asleep and awake not mutually calling to one another, the six kinds of
creatures not gathered together and penned, the money not collected and
locked up, the doors and gates not fastened, all went pouring along the
way on foot; the towers were filled, the mounds by the trees, the
windows and the terraces along the streets; with bent body fearing to
lift their eyes, carefully seeing that there was nothing about them to
offend, those seated on high addressing those seated on the ground,
those going on the road addressing those passing on high, the mind
intent on one object alone; so that if a heavenly form had flown past,
or a form entitled to highest respect, there would have been no
distraction visible, so intent was the body and so immovable the limbs.
And now beautiful as the opening lily, he advances towards the garden
glades, wishing to accomplish the words of the holy prophet (Rishi). The
prince, seeing the ways prepared and watered and the joyous holiday
appearance of the people; seeing too the drapery and chariot, pure,
bright, shining, his heart exulted greatly and rejoiced. The people (on
their part) gazed at the prince, so beautifully adorned, with all his
retinue, like an assembled company of kings gathered to see a
heaven-born prince. And now a Deva-raga of the Pure abode, suddenly
appears by the side of the road; his form changed into that of an old
man, struggling for life, his heart weak and oppressed. The prince
seeing the old man, filled with apprehension, asked his charioteer,
"What kind of man is this? his head white and his shoulders bent, his
eyes bleared and his body withered, holding a stick to support him along
the way. Is his body suddenly dried up by the heat, or has he been born
in this way?" The charioteer, his heart much embarrassed, scarcely dared
to answer truly, till the pure-born (Deva) added his spiritual power,
and caused him to frame a reply in true words: "His appearance changed,
his vital powers decayed, filled with sorrow, with little pleasure, his
spirits gone, his members nerveless, these are the indications of what
is called 'old age.' This man was once a sucking child, brought up and
nourished at his mother's breast, and as a youth full of sportive life,
handsome, and in enjoyment of the five pleasures; as years passed on,
his frame decaying, he is brought now to the waste of age."

The prince, greatly agitated and moved, asked his charioteer another
question and said, "Is yonder man the only one afflicted with age, or
shall I, and others also, be such as he?" The charioteer again replied
and said, "Your highness also inherits this lot: as time goes on, the
form itself is changed, and this must doubtless come, beyond all
hindrance. The youthful form must wear the garb of age, throughout the
world, this is the common lot."

Bodhisattva, who had long prepared the foundation of pure and spotless
wisdom, broadly setting the root of every high quality, with a view to
gather large fruit in his present life, hearing these words respecting
the sorrow of age, was afflicted in mind, and his hair stood upright.
Just as the roll of the thunder and the storm alarm and put to flight
the cattle, so was Bodhisattva affected by the words; shaking with
apprehension, he deeply sighed; constrained at heart because of the pain
of age; with shaking head and constant gaze, he thought upon this misery
of decay; what joy or pleasure can men take, he thought, in that which
soon must wither, stricken by the marks of age; affecting all without
exception; though gifted now with youth and strength, yet not one but
soon must change and pine away. The eye beholding such signs as these
before it, how can it not be oppressed by a desire to escape?
Bodhisattva then addressed his charioteer: "Quickly turn your chariot
and go back. Ever thinking on this subject of old age approaching, what
pleasures now can these gardens afford, the years of my life like the
fast-flying wind; turn your chariot, and with speedy wheels take me to
my palace." And so his heart keeping in the same sad tone, he was as one
who returns to a place of entombment; unaffected by any engagement or
employment, so he found no rest in anything within his home.

The king hearing of his son's sadness urged his companions to induce him
again to go abroad, and forthwith incited his ministers and attendants
to decorate the gardens even more than before. The Deva then caused
himself to appear as a sick man; struggling for life, he stood by the
wayside, his body swollen and disfigured, sighing with deep-drawn
groans; his hands and knees contracted and sore with disease, his tears
flowing as he piteously muttered his petition. The prince asked his
charioteer, "What sort of man, again, is this?"

Replying, he said, "This is a sick man. The four elements all confused
and disordered, worn and feeble, with no remaining strength, bent down
with weakness, looking to his fellow-men for help." The prince hearing
the words thus spoken, immediately became sad and depressed in heart,
and asked, "Is this the only man afflicted thus, or are others liable to
the same calamity?" In reply he said, "Through all the world, men are
subject to the same condition; those who have bodies must endure
affliction, the poor and ignorant, as well as the rich and great." The
prince, when these words met his ears, was oppressed with anxious
thought and grief; his body and his mind were moved throughout, just as
the moon upon the ruffled tide. "Placed thus in the great furnace of
affliction, say! what rest or quiet can there be! Alas! that worldly
men, blinded by ignorance and oppressed with dark delusion, though the
robber sickness may appear at any time, yet live with blithe and joyous
hearts!" On this, turning his chariot back again, he grieved to think
upon the pain of sickness. As a man beaten and wounded sore, with body
weakened, leans upon his staff, so dwelt he in the seclusion of his
palace, lone-seeking, hating worldly pleasures.

The king, hearing once more of his son's return, asked anxiously the
reason why, and in reply was told--"he saw the pain of sickness." The
king, in fear, like one beside himself, roundly blamed the keepers of
the way; his heart constrained, his lips spoke not; again he increased
the crowd of music-women, the sounds of merriment twice louder than
aforetime, if by these sounds and sights the prince might be gratified;
and indulging worldly feelings, might not hate his home. Night and day
the charm of melody increased, but his heart was still unmoved by it.
The king himself then went forth to observe everything successively, and
to make the gardens even yet more attractive, selecting with care the
attendant women, that they might excel in every point of personal
beauty; quick in wit and able to arrange matters well, fit to ensnare
men by their winning looks; he placed additional keepers along the
king's way, he strictly ordered every offensive sight to be removed, and
earnestly exhorted the illustrious coachman, to look well and pick out
the road as he went. And now that Deva of the Pure abode, again caused
the appearance of a dead man; four persons carrying the corpse lifted it
on high, and appeared (to be going on) in front of Bodhisattva; the
surrounding people saw it not, but only Bodhisattva and the charioteer.
Once more he asked, "What is this they carry? with streamers and flowers
of every choice description, whilst the followers are overwhelmed with
grief, tearing their hair and wailing piteously." And now the gods
instructing the coachman, he replied and said, "This is a dead man: all
his powers of body destroyed, life departed; his heart without thought,
his intellect dispersed; his spirit gone, his form withered and decayed;
stretched out as a dead log; family ties broken--all his friends who
once loved him, clad in white cerements, now no longer delighting to
behold him, remove him to lie in some hollow ditch tomb." The prince
hearing the name of Death, his heart constrained by painful thoughts, he
asked, "Is this the only dead man, or does the world contain like
instances?" Replying thus he said, "All, everywhere, the same; he who
begins his life must end it likewise; the strong and lusty and the
middle-aged, having a body, cannot but decay and die." The prince was
now harassed and perplexed in mind; his body bent upon the chariot
leaning-board, with bated breath and struggling accents, stammered thus,
"Oh worldly men! how fatally deluded! beholding everywhere the body
brought to dust, yet everywhere the more carelessly living; the heart is
neither lifeless wood nor stone, and yet it thinks not 'all is
vanishing!'" Then turning, he directed his chariot to go back, and no
longer waste his time in wandering. How could he, whilst in fear of
instant death, go wandering here and there with lightened heart! The
charioteer remembering the king's exhortation feared much nor dared go
back; straightforward then he pressed his panting steeds, passed onward
to the gardens, came to the groves and babbling streams of crystal
water, the pleasant trees, spread out with gaudy verdure, the noble
living things and varied beasts so wonderful, the flying creatures and
their notes melodious; all charming and delightful to the eye and ear,
even as the heavenly Nandavana.

Putting Away Desire

On the prince entering the garden the women came around to pay him
court; and to arouse in him thoughts frivolous; with ogling ways and
deep design, each one setting herself off to best advantage; or joining
together in harmonious concert, clapping their hands, or moving their
feet in unison, or joining close, body to body, limb to limb; or
indulging in smart repartees, and mutual smiles; or assuming a
thoughtful saddened countenance, and so by sympathy to please the
prince, and provoke in him a heart affected by love. But all the women
beheld the prince, clouded in brow, and his god-like body not exhibiting
its wonted signs of beauty; fair in bodily appearance, surpassingly
lovely, all looked upwards as they gazed, as when we call upon the moon
Deva to come; but all their subtle devices were ineffectual to move
Bodhisattva's heart.

At last commingling together they join and look astonished and in fear,
silent without a word. Then there was a Brahmaputra, whose name was
called Udayi (Yau-to-i). He, addressing the women, said, "Now all of
you, so graceful and fair, see if you cannot by your combined power hit
on some device; for beauty's power is not forever. Still it holds the
world in bondage, by secret ways and lustful arts; but no such
loveliness in all the world as yours, equal to that of heavenly nymphs;
the gods beholding it would leave their queens, spirits and Rishis would
be misled by it; why not then the prince, the son of an earthly king?
why should not his feelings be aroused? This prince indeed, though he
restrains his heart and holds it fixed, pure-minded, with virtue
uncontaminated, not to be overcome by power of women; yet of old there
was Sundari (Su-to-li) able to destroy the great Rishi, and to lead him
to indulge in love, and so degrade his boasted eminence; undergoing long
penance, Gautama fell likewise by the arts of a heavenly queen;
Shing-kue, a Rishi putra, practising lustful indulgences according to
fancy, was lost. The Brahman Rishi Visvamitra (Pi-she-po), living
religiously for ten thousand years, deeply ensnared by a heavenly queen,
in one day was completely shipwrecked in faith; thus those enticing
women, by their power, overcame the Brahman ascetics; how much more may
ye, by your arts, overpower the resolves of the king's son; strive
therefore after new devices, let not the king fail in a successor to the
throne; women, though naturally weak, are high and potent in the way of
ruling men. What may not their arts accomplish in promoting in men a
lustful desire?" At this time all the attendant women, hearing
throughout the words of Udayi, increasing their powers of pleasing, as
the quiet horse when touched by the whip, went into the presence of the
royal prince, and each one strove in the practice of every kind of art.
They joined in music and in smiling conversation, raising their
eyebrows, showing their white teeth, with ogling looks, glancing one at
the other, their light drapery exhibiting their white bodies, daintily
moving with mincing gait, acting the part of a bride as if coming
gradually nearer, desiring to promote in him a feeling of love,
remembering the words of the great king, "With dissolute form and
slightly clad, forgetful of modesty and womanly reserve." The prince
with resolute heart was silent and still, with unmoved face he sat; even
as the great elephant-dragon, whilst the entire herd moves round him; so
nothing could disturb or move his heart, dwelling in their midst as in a
confined room. Like the divine Sakra, around whom all the Devis
assemble, so was the prince as he dwelt in the gardens; the maidens
encircling him thus; some arranging their dress, others washing their
hands or feet, others perfuming their bodies with scent, others twining
flowers for decoration, others making strings for jewelled necklets,
others rubbing or striking their bodies, others resting, or lying, one
beside the other; others, with head inclined, whispering secret words,
others engaged in common sports, others talking of amorous things,
others assuming lustful attitudes, striving thus to move his heart. But
Bodhisattva, peaceful and collected, firm as a rock, difficult to move,
hearing all these women's talk, unaffected either to joy or sorrow, was
driven still more to serious thought, sighing to witness such strange
conduct, and beginning to understand the women's design, by these means
to disconcert his mind, not knowing that youthful beauty soon falls,
destroyed by old age and death, fading and perishing! This is the great
distress! What ignorance and delusion (he reflected) overshadow their
minds: "Surely they ought to consider old age, disease, and death, and
day and night stir themselves up to exertion, whilst this sharp
double-edged sword hangs over the neck. What room for sport or laughter,
beholding those monsters, old age, disease, and death? A man who is
unable to resort to this inward knowledge, what is he but a wooden or a
plaster man, what heart-consideration in such a case! Like the double
tree that appears in the desert, with leaves and fruit all perfect and
ripe, the first cut down and destroyed, the other unmoved by
apprehension, so it is in the case of the mass of men: they have no
understanding either!"

At this time Udayi came to the place where the prince was, and observing
his silent and thoughtful mien, unmoved by any desire for indulgence, he
forthwith addressed the prince, and said, "The Maharaga, by his former
appointment, has selected me to act as friend to his son; may I
therefore speak some friendly words? an enlightened friendship is of
three sorts: that which removes things unprofitable, promotes that which
is real gain, and stands by a friend in adversity. I claim the name of
'enlightened friend,' and would renounce all that is magisterial, but
yet not speak lightly or with indifference. What then are the three
sources of advantage? listen, and I will now utter true words, and prove
myself a true and sincere adviser. When the years are fresh and
ripening, beauty and pleasing qualities in bloom, not to give proper
weight to woman's influence, this is a weak man's policy. It is right
sometimes to be of a crafty mind, submitting to those little subterfuges
which find a place in the heart's undercurrents, and obeying what those

thoughts suggest in way of pleasures to be got from dalliance: this is
no wrong in woman's eye! even if now the heart has no desire, yet it is
fair to follow such devices; agreement is the joy of woman's heart,
acquiescence is the substance (the full) of true adornment; but if a man
reject these overtures, he's like a tree deprived of leaves and fruits;
why then ought you to yield and acquiesce? that you may share in all
these things. Because in taking, there's an end of trouble--no light and
changeful thoughts then worry us--for pleasure is the first and foremost
thought of all, the gods themselves cannot dispense with it. Lord Sakra
was drawn by it to love the wife of Gautama the Rishi; so likewise the
Rishi Agastya, through a long period of discipline, practising
austerities, from hankering after a heavenly queen (Devi), lost all
reward of his religious endeavors, the Rishi Brihaspati, and Kandradeva
putra; the Rishi Parasara, and Kavangara (Kia-pin-ke-lo). All these, out
of many others, were overcome by woman's love. How much more then, in
your case, should you partake in such pleasant joys; nor refuse, with
wilful heart, to participate in the worldly delights, which your present
station, possessed of such advantages, offers you, in the presence of
these attendants."

At this time the royal prince, hearing the words of his friend Udayi, so
skilfully put, with such fine distinction, cleverly citing worldly
instances, answered thus to Udayi: "Thank you for having spoken
sincerely to me; let me likewise answer you in the same way, and let
your heart suspend its judgment whilst you listen:--It is not that I am
careless about beauty, or am ignorant of the power of human joys, but
only that I see on all the impress of change; therefore my heart is sad
and heavy; if these things were sure of lasting, without the ills of
age, disease, and death, then would I too take my fill of love; and to
the end find no disgust or sadness. If you will undertake to cause these
women's beauty not to change or wither in the future, then, though the
joy of love may have its evil, still it might hold the mind in thraldom.
To know that other men grow old, sicken, and die, would be enough to rob
such joys of satisfaction; yet how much more in their own case (knowing
this) would discontentment fill the mind; to know such pleasures hasten
to decay, and their bodies likewise; if, notwithstanding this, men yield
to the power of love, their case indeed is like the very beasts. And now
you cite the names of many Rishis, who practised lustful ways in life;
their cases likewise cause me sorrow, for in that they did these things,
they perished. Again, you cite the name of that illustrious king, who
freely gratified his passions, but he, in like way, perished in the act;
know, then, that he was not a conqueror; with smooth words to conceal an
intrigue, and to persuade one's neighbor to consent, and by consenting
to defile his mind; how can this be called a just device? It is but to
seduce one with a hollow lie--such ways are not for me to practise; or,
for those who love the truth and honesty; for they are, forsooth,
unrighteous ways, and such a disposition is hard to reverence; shaping
one's conduct after one's likings, liking this or that, and seeing no
harm in it, what method of experience is this! A hollow compliance, and
a protesting heart, such method is not for me to follow; but this I
know, old age, disease, and death, these are the great afflictions which
accumulate, and overwhelm me with their presence; on these I find no
friend to speak, alas! alas! Udayi! these, after all, are the great
concerns; the pain of birth, old age, disease, and death; this grief is
that we have to fear; the eyes see all things falling to decay, and yet
the heart finds joy in following them; but I have little strength of
purpose, or command; this heart of mine is feeble and distraught,
reflecting thus on age, disease, and death. Distracted, as I never was
before; sleepless by night and day, how can I then indulge in pleasure?
Old age, disease, and death consuming me, their certainty beyond a
doubt, and still to have no heavy thoughts, in truth my heart would be a
log or stone." Thus the prince, for Uda's sake, used every kind of
skilful argument, describing all the pains of pleasure; and not
perceiving that the day declined. And now the waiting women all, with
music and their various attractions, seeing that all were useless for
the end, with shame began to flock back to the city; the prince
beholding all the gardens, bereft of their gaudy ornaments, the women
all returning home, the place becoming silent and deserted, felt with
twofold strength the thought of impermanence. With saddened mien going
back, he entered his palace.

The king, his father, hearing of the prince, his heart estranged from
thoughts of pleasure, was greatly overcome with sorrow, and like a sword
it pierced his heart. Forthwith assembling all his council, he sought of
them some means to gain his end; they all replied, "These sources of
desire are not enough to hold and captivate his heart."

Leaving the City

And so the king increased the means for gratifying the appetite for
pleasure; both night and day the joys of music wore out the prince,
opposed to pleasure; disgusted with them, he desired their absence, his
mind was weaned from all such thoughts, he only thought of age, disease,
and death; as the lion wounded by an arrow.

The king then sent his chief ministers, and the most distinguished of
his family, young in years and eminent for beauty, as well as for wisdom
and dignity of manners, to accompany and rest with him, both night and
day, in order to influence the prince's mind. And now within a little
interval, the prince again requested the king that he might go abroad.

Once more the chariot and the well-paced horses were prepared, adorned
with precious substances and every gem; and then with all the nobles,
his associates, surrounding him, he left the city gates. Just as the
four kinds of flower, when the sun shines, open out their leaves, so was
the prince in all his spiritual splendor; effulgent in the beauty of his
youth-time. As he proceeded to the gardens from the city, the road was
well prepared, smooth, and wide, the trees were bright with flowers and
fruit, his heart was joyous, and forgetful of its care.

Now by the roadside, as he beheld the ploughmen, plodding along the
furrows, and the writhing worms, his heart again was moved with piteous
feeling, and anguish pierced his soul afresh; to see those laborers at
their toil, struggling with painful work, their bodies bent, their hair
dishevelled, the dripping sweat upon their faces, their persons fouled
with mud and dust; the ploughing oxen, too, bent by the yokes, their
lolling tongues and gaping mouths. The nature of the prince, loving,
compassionate, his mind conceived most poignant sorrow, and nobly moved
to sympathy, he groaned with pain; then stooping down he sat upon the
ground, and watched this painful scene of suffering; reflecting on the
ways of birth and death! "Alas! he cried, for all the world! how dark
and ignorant, void of understanding!" And then to give his followers
chance of rest, he bade them each repose where'er they list, whilst he
beneath the shadow of a Gambu tree, gracefully seated, gave himself to
thought. He pondered on the fact of life and death, inconstancy, and
endless progress to decay. His heart thus fixed without confusion, the
five senses covered and clouded over, lost in possession of
enlightenment and insight, he entered on the first pure state of
ecstasy. All low desire removed, most perfect peace ensued; and fully
now in Samadhi he saw the misery and utter sorrow of the world; the ruin
wrought by age, disease, and death; the great misery following on the
body's death; and yet men not awakened to the truth! oppressed with
others' suffering (age, disease, and death), this load of sorrow weighed
his mind. "I now will seek," he said, "a noble law, unlike the worldly
methods known to men. I will oppose disease and age and death, and
strive against the mischief wrought by these on men."

Thus lost in tranquil contemplation, he considered that youth, vigor,
and strength of life, constantly renewing themselves, without long stay,
in the end fulfil the rule of ultimate destruction. Thus he pondered,
without excessive joy or grief, without hesitation or confusion of
thought, without dreaminess or extreme longing, without aversion or
discontent, but perfectly at peace, with no hindrance, radiant with the
beams of increased illumination. At this time a Deva of the Pure abode,
transforming himself into the shape of a Bhikshu, came to the place
where the prince was seated; the prince with due consideration rose to
meet him, and asked him who he was. In reply he said, "I am a Shaman,
depressed and sad at thought of age, disease, and death; I have left my
home to seek some way of rescue, but everywhere I find old age, disease,
and death; all things hasten to decay and there is no permanency.
Therefore I search for the happiness of something that decays not, that
never perishes, that never knows beginning, that looks with equal mind
on enemy and friend, that heeds not wealth nor beauty; the happiness of
one who finds repose alone in solitude, in some unfrequented dell, free
from molestation, all thoughts about the world destroyed; dwelling in
some lonely hermitage, untouched by any worldly source of pollution,
begging for food sufficient for the body." And forthwith as he stood
before the prince, gradually rising up he disappeared in space.

The prince, with joyful mind, considering, recollected former Buddhas,
established thus in perfect dignity of manner; with noble mien and
presence, as this visitor. Thus calling things to mind with perfect
self-possession, he reached the thought of righteousness, and by what
means it can be gained. Indulging thus for some time in thoughts of
religious solitude, he now suppressed his feelings and controlled his
members, and rising turned again towards the city. His followers all
flocked after him, calling him to stop and not go far from them, but in
his mind these secret thoughts so held him, devising means by which to
escape from the world, that though his body moved along the road, his
heart was far away among the mountains; even as the bound and captive
elephant ever thinks about his desert wilds. The prince now entering the
city, there met him men and women, earnest for their several ends; the
old besought him for their children, the young sought something for the
wife, others sought something for their brethren; all those allied by
kinship or by family, aimed to obtain their several suits, all of them
joined in relationship dreading the pain of separation. And now the
prince's heart was filled with joy, as he suddenly heard those words
"separation and association." "These are joyful sounds to me," he said,
"they assure me that my vow shall be accomplished." Then deeply
pondering the joy of "snapped relationship," the idea of Nirvana,
deepened and widened in him, his body as a peak of the Golden Mount, his
shoulder like the elephant's, his voice like the spring-thunder, his
deep-blue eye like that of the king of oxen; his mind full of religious
thoughts, his face bright as the full moon, his step like that of the
lion king, thus he entered his palace; even as the son of Lord Sakra, or
Sakra-putra, his mind reverential, his person dignified, he went
straight to his father's presence, and with head inclined, inquired, "Is
the king well?" Then he explained his dread of age, disease, and death,
and sought respectfully permission to become a hermit. "For all things
in the world," he said, "though now united, tend to separation."
Therefore he prayed to leave the world; desiring to find "true

His royal father hearing the words "leave the world," was forthwith
seized with great heart-trembling, even as the strong wild elephant
shakes with his weight the boughs of some young sapling; going forward,
seizing the prince's hands, with falling tears, he spake as follows:
"Stop! nor speak such words, the time is not yet come for 'a religious
life;' you are young and strong, your heart beats full, to lead a
religious life frequently involves trouble; it is rarely possible to
hold the desires in check, the heart not yet estranged from their
enjoyment; to leave your home and lead a painful ascetic life, your
heart can hardly yet resolve on such a course. To dwell amidst the
desert wilds or lonely dells, this heart of yours would not be perfectly
at rest, for though you love religious matters, you are not yet like me
in years; you should undertake the kingdom's government, and let me
first adopt ascetic life; but to give up your father and your sacred
duties, this is not to act religiously; you should suppress this thought
of 'leaving home,' and undertake your worldly duties, find your delight
in getting an illustrious name, and after this give up your home and

The prince, with proper reverence and respectful feelings, again
besought his royal father; but promised if he could be saved from four
calamities, that he would give up the thought of "leaving home." If he
would grant him life without end, no disease, nor undesirable old age,
and no decay of earthly possessions, then he would obey and give up the
thought of "leaving home."

The royal father then addressed the prince, "Speak not such words as
these, for with respect to these four things, who is there able to
prevent them, or say nay to their approach; asking such things as these,
you would provoke men's laughter! But put away this thought of 'leaving
home,' and once more take yourself to pleasure."

The prince again besought his father, "If you may not grant me these
four prayers, then let me go I pray, and leave my home. O! place no
difficulties in my path; your son is dwelling in a burning house, would
you indeed prevent his leaving it! To solve a doubt is only reasonable,
who could forbid a man to seek its explanation? Or if he were forbidden,
then by self-destruction he might solve the difficulty, in an

Next: Bimbisara Raga Invites The Prince

Previous: Introduction

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