The Bodhisatta's Birth
There was in Kapliavatthu a Sakya king, strong of purpose and
reverenced by all men, a descendant of the Okkakas, who call
themselves Gotama, and his name was Suddhodana or Pure-Rice.
His wife Maya-devi was beautiful as the water-lily and pure in
mind as the lotus. As the Queen of Heaven, she lived on earth,
untainted by desire, and immaculate.
The king, her husband, honored her in her holiness, and the
spirit of truth, glorious and strong in his wisdom like unto a
white elephant, descended upon her.
When she knew that the hour of motherhood was near, she asked the
king to send her home to her parents; and Suddhodana, anxious
about his wife and the child she would bear him, willingly
granted her request.
At Lumbini there is a beautiful grove, and when Maya-devi passed
through it the trees were one mass of fragrant flowers and many
birds were warbling in their branches. The Queen, wishing to
stroll through the shady walks, left her golden palanquin, and,
when she reached the giant Sala tree in the midst of the grove,
felt that her hour had come. She took hold of a branch. Her
attendants hung a curtain about her and retired. When the pain of
travail came upon her, four pure-minded angels of the great
Brahma held out a golden net to receive the babe, who came forth
from her right side like the rising sun, bright and perfect.
The Brahma-angels took the child and placing him before the
mother said: "Rejoice, O queen, a mighty son has been born unto
At her couch stood an aged woman imploring the heavens to bless
All the worlds were flooded with light. The blind received their
sight by longing to see the coming glory of the Lord; the deaf
and dumb spoke with one another of the good omens indicating the
birth of the Buddha to be. The crooked became straight; the lame
walked. All prisoners were freed from their chains and the fires
of all the hells were extinguished.
No clouds gathered in the skies and the polluted streams became
clear, whilst celestial music rang through the air and the angels
rejoiced with gladness. With no selfish or partial joy but for
the sake of the law they rejoiced, for creation engulfed in the
ocean of pain was now to obtain release.
The cries of beasts were hushed; all malevolent beings received a
loving heart, and peace reigned on earth. Mara, the evil one,
alone was grieved and rejoiced not.
The Naga kings, earnestly desiring to show their reverence for
the most excellent law, as they had paid honor to former Buddhas,
now went to greet the Bodhisatta. They scattered before him
mandara flowers, rejoicing with heartfelt joy to pay their
The royal father, pondering the meaning of these signs, was now
full of joy and now sore distressed.
The queen mother, beholding her child and the commotion which his
birth created, felt in her timorous heart the pangs of doubt.
Now the re was at that time in a grove near Lumbini Asita, a
rishi, leading the life of a hermit. He was a Brahman of
dignified mien, famed not only for wisdom and scholarship, but
also for his skill in the interpretation of signs. And the king
invited him to see the royal babe.
The seer, beholding the prince, wept and sighed deeply. And when
the king saw the tears of Asita he became alarmed and asked: "Why
has the sight of my son caused thee grief and pain?"
But Asita's heart rejoiced, and, knowing the king's mind to be
perplexed, he addressed him, saying:
"The king, like the moon when full, should feel great joy, for he
has begotten a wondrously noble son.
"I do not worship Brahma, but I worship this child; and the gods
in the temples will descend from their places of honor to adore
"Banish all anxiety and doubt. The spiritual omens manifested
indicate that the child now born will bring deliverance to the
"Recollecting that I myself am old, on that account I could not
hold my tears; for now my end is coming on and I shall not see
the glory of this babe. For this son of thine will rule the
"The wheel of empire will come to him. He will either be a king
of kings to govern all the lands of the earth, or verily will
become a Buddha. He is born for the sake of everything that
"His pure teaching will be like the shore that receives the
shipwrecked. His power of meditation will be like a cool lake;
and all creatures parched with the drought of lust may freely
"On the fire of covetousness he will cause the cloud of his mercy
to rise, so that the rain of the law may extinguish it. The heavy
gates of despondency will he open, and give deliverance to all
creatures ensnared in the selfentwined meshes of folly and
"The king of the law has come forth to rescue from bondage all
the poor, the miserable, the helpless."
When the royal parents heard Asita's words they rejoiced in their
hearts and named their new-born infant Siddhattha, that is, "he
who has accomplished his purpose."
And the queen said to her sister, Pajapati: "A mother who has
borne a future Buddha will never give birth to another child. I
shall soon leave this world, my husband, the king, and
Siddhattha, my child. When I am gone, be thou a mother to him."
And Pajapati wept and promised.
When the queen had departed from the living, Pajapati took the
boy Siddhattha and reared him. And as the light of the moon
increases little by little, so the royal child grew from day to
day in mind and in body; and truthfulness and love resided in his
When a year had passed Suddhodana the king made Pajapati his
queen and there was never a better stepmother than she.
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