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Yasodhara






On the next morning the Buddha took his bowl and set out to beg
his food.

And the news spread abroad: "Prince Siddhattha is going from
house to house to receive alms in the city where he used to ride
in a chariot attended by bis retinue. His robe is like a red
clod, and he holds in his hand an earthen bowl."

On hearing the strange rumor, the king went forth in great haste
and when he met his son he exclaimed: "Why dost thou thus
disgrace me? Knowest thou not that I can easily supply thee and
thy bhikkhus with food?"

And the Buddha replied: "It is the custom of my race."

But the king said: "How can this be? Thou art descended from
kings, and not one of them ever begged for food."

"O great king," rejoined the Buddha, "thou and thy race may claim
descent from kings; my descent is from the Buddhas of old. They,
begging their food, lived on alms."

The king made no reply, and the Blessed One continued: "It is
customary, O king, when one has found a hidden treasure, for him
to make an offering of the most precious jewel to his father.
Suffer me, therefore, to open this treasure of mine which is the
Dharma, and accept from me this gem:"

And the Blessed One recited the following stanza:

"Rise from dreams and loiter not
Open to truth thy mind.
Practise righteousness and thou
Eternal bliss shalt find."

Then the king conducted the prince into the palace, and the
ministers and all the members of the royal family greeted him
with great reverence, but Yasodhara, the mother of Rahula, did
not make her appearance. The king sent for Yasodhara, but she
replied: "Surely, if I am deserving of any regard, Siddhattha
will come and see me."

The Blessed One, having greeted all his relatives and friends,
asked: "Where is Yasodhara?" And on being informed that she had
refused to come, he rose straightway and went to her apartments.

"I am free," the Blessed One said to his disciples, Sariputta and
Moggallana, whom he had bidden to accompany him to the princess's
chamber; "the princess, however, is not as yet free. Not having
seen me for a long time, she is exceedingly sorrowful. Unless her
grief be allowed its course her heart will cleave. Should she
touch the Tathagata, the Holy One, ye must not prevent her."

Yasodhara sat in her room, dressed in mean garments, and her hair
cut. When Prince Siddhattha entered, she was, from the abundance
of her affection, like an overflowing vessel, unable to contain
her love.

Forgetting that the man whom she loved was the Buddha, the Lord
of the world, the preacher of truth, she held him by his feet and
wept bitterly.

Remembering, however, that Suddhodana was present, she felt
ashamed, and rising, seated herself reverently at a little
distance.

The king apologized for the princess, saying: "This arises from
her deep affection, and is more than a temporary emotion. During
the seven years that she has lost her husband, when she heard
that Siddhattha had shaved his head, she did likewise; when she
heard that he had left off the use of perfumes and ornaments, she
also refused their use. Like her husband she had eaten at
appointed times from an earthen bowl only. Like him she had
renounced high beds with splendid coverings, and when other
princes asked her in marriage, she replied that she was still
his. Therefore, grant her forgiveness."

And the Blessed One spoke kindly to Yasodhara, telling of her
great merits inherited from former lives. She had indeed been
again and again of great assistance to him. Her purity, her
gentleness, her devotion had been invaluable to the Bodhisatta
when he aspired to attain enlightenment, the highest aim of
mankind. And so holy had she been that she desired to become the
wife of a Buddha. This, then, is her karma, and it is the result
of great merits. Her grief has been unspeakable, but the
consciousness of the glory that surrounds her spiritual
inheritance increased by her noble attitude during her life, will
be a balm that will miraculously transform all sorrows into
heavenly joy.





Next: Rahula

Previous: The Buddha's Father



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